By Julian Pecquet - 11/01/12 11:21 PM EDT
The chairman of the House Oversight panel sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a scathing letter on Thursday accusing the administration of hiding information pointing to Libyan authorities' possible involvement in the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
The letter comes after Foreign Policy reported earlier in the day that reporters in Benghazi had found evidence that a local police officer appeared to have photographed the inside of the mission on the morning of the attack. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died when Islamist militants attacked the mission that night.
“Given the location where they were found, these documents appear to be genuine and support a growing body of evidence indicating that the Obama administration has tried to withhold pertinent facts about the 9/11 anniversary attack from Congress and the American people,” the lawmakers said.
According to Foreign Policy, reporters over the past few days found several half-burned drafts of letters that appear to have been written by Stevens on the day he died. One of them was addressed to the head of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Benghazi office, the other to Benghazi's police chief.
“Early this morning at 0643, Sept. 11, 2012, one of our diligent guards made a troubling report,” the first letter reads. “Near our main gate, a member of the police force was seen in the upper level of a building across from our compound. It is reported that this person was photographing the inside of the U.S. special mission and furthermore that this person was part of the police unit sent to protect the mission. The police car stationed where this event occurred was number 322.”
The attack on the consulate has become a major foreign-policy headache for Obama less than a week before the election, with a steady stream of new revelations fueling Republican accusations that the administration has not been forthcoming about its response to security threats prior to the attack and has shifted its explanation of what transpired on Sept. 11.
Issa gave Clinton until next Thursday to provide his office with any “cables, telegrams or emails” that might touch on the concerns highlighted in the letters, and, if any exist, to explain why they weren't provided to the committee earlier as part of its probe into the attack and the administration's response.