By Julian Pecquet - 02/03/13 07:45 PM EST
John KerryJohn KerryUS to consider removing Colombian rebel group FARC from terror list Kerry fires back at McCain: I'm not 'delusional' The Yulin Dog Meat Festival: an abomination worth our attention MORE will immediately have to deal with the aftermath of his predecessor's biggest crisis, the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, when he starts his first day at the State Department on Monday.
At least three congressional panels are planning further hearings on the terrorist attack that killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
And Republican lawmakers are still demanding that the agency answer questions about the lack of security at the U.S. mission in Libya as well as the inaccurate initial description of the attack.
“I think (Republican lawmakers) are entirely optimistic about working with Mr. Kerry,” said one Republican aide. “I certainly think we'll be engaging with him as well.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee, led by Sen. Carl LevinCarl LevinThe Fed and a return to banking simplicity What Our presidential candidates can learn from Elmo Zumwalt Will there be a 50-50 Senate next year? MORE (D-Mich.), will host the first Benghazi hearing of the Kerry era, tentatively scheduled for Thursday. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will testify, an aide told The Hill, a condition Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamKerry fires back at McCain: I'm not 'delusional' Conservative group presses GOP to vote against spending bill Week ahead: Funding fight dominates Congress MORE (R-S.C.) had demanded in exchange for not blocking the nomination of former Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelCreating a future for vets in DC Republicans back Clinton, but will she put them in Pentagon? There's still time for another third-party option MORE (R-Neb.) to replace Panetta.
Levin and his former Republican counterpart, Sen. John McCainJohn McCainKerry fires back at McCain: I'm not 'delusional' House to vote on ObamaCare mandate exemption Tuesday Debate must expose divide between Trump, Clinton on climate change MORE (R-Ariz.), want the hearing to focus on the Pentagon's role in the attack, notably the lack of military response.
“We've got planes, ships, all kinds of things all over the Mediterranean,” said McCain. “And obviously a seven-hour period went by without any capability of getting any of those assets to the scene of the attack.”
Sen. James InhofeJames InhofeDem slams House waterways bill over splash parks provision Democrats blast GOP for ‘sabotaging’ House waterways bill GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase MORE (R-Okla.), who has taken over from McCain as ranking member on the committee, has other plans however. He told The Hill he wants the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, and former CIA Director David Petraeus to testify about the intelligence talking points that initially linked the attack on a protest gone awry.
“I can't speak for Carl [Levin] or for any of the rest of them, but my concern will be to bring out the fact that in my opinion this is the greatest single cover-up in the history of America,” he said. “I'm talking about the Pentagon Papers, Iran-Contra.”
The House oversight panel is also preparing for additional hearings on the security situation, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told The Hill recently.
Issa , the panel’s chairman, and six Republican colleagues on the committee – Reps. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Scott DeJarlais (R-Tenn.), Paul GosarPaul GosarLawmakers seek answers on Pentagon employees' casino, strip club charges House conservatives are winning Ryan faces new pressures from House conservatives MORE (R-Ariz.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), John Mica (R-Fla.) and Blake FarentholdBlake FarentholdCongress' new opportunity to protect free speech: Voting to pass SPEAK FREE House leader promises vote on exempting Olympic medals from taxes House panel to vote on exempting Olympic medals from taxes MORE (R-Texas) – recently visited embassies across North Africa and the Middle East to survey their security needs and protocols.
And the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), vowed to make Benghazi a priority when he was named chairman.
Kerry himself has vowed to implement the recommendations of a bipartisan review board that issued a report on Benghazi in December.
“There are certain things I intend to issue instructions on the minute I come in,” Kerry told The Boston Globe in an interview Thursday. “I won’t go into the details, but Benghazi, embassy security, issues regarding some of the analysis that I want to track with respect to Iran, with respect to Syria. Trouble spots.”
Issa, Royce and Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzHouse to vote this week on contempt for former Clinton IT staffer FBI releases interviews with Clinton aides The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the oversight subpanel on national security, also partnered on a letter this week asking the State Department to clarify the role played by Clinton and her two deputies in providing for security in Libya.
It also asks the department to explain why a security team was pulled out of the country shortly before the attack and why the mission in Benghazi remained open despite the increasingly volatile situation.
Finally, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulConservative group presses GOP to vote against spending bill Saudi skeptics gain strength in Congress Senators challenge status quo on Saudi arms sales MORE (R-Ky.), who said last week Clinton should have been fired over Benghazi, are collecting signatures on a letter demanding that Congress open an investigation into the attack. The letter faults the State Department for the talking points and for blaming a lack of congressional funding for the lack of security in Benghazi.
“This is not a money problem,” the letter states. “It is a leadership and management problem entrenched within the State Department.”