Dems blast GOP over 'false' Benghazi charges on Clinton

Republicans should apologize to Hillary Clinton for the “false accusations” that she personally signed off on security cuts at the Benghazi mission prior to last year's attack, the top Democrat on the House oversight panel said Thursday.

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The allegations are “false, extremely irresponsible, and lack even a rudimentary understanding of how State Department cables are processed,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) wrote in a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “I respectfully request that you retract your erroneous staff report and apologize to Secretary Clinton on behalf of your Chairmen and your Republican conference.”

In a 46-page progress report earlier this week, five committee leaders claimed that Clinton had personally signed off on an April 19, 2012, memo to then-Ambassador Gene Cretz rejecting requests for more security at the mission; Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in a terrorist attack five months later. The report suggested Clinton lied about not seeing the memo during congressional testimony in January.

Democrats have reviewed the cable, Cummings said, and could find no evidence that Clinton ever saw it – just as she told Congress.

The cable “does not bear Secretary Clinton's signature,” Cummings wrote. “In fact, it does not include the signature of anyone in the Department. 

“Instead, it includes a preformatted section with the Secretary’s name typed at the bottom of the page next to the word “signature,” just as in thousands of other cables sent from State Department headquarters every year. Although a telephone call could have clarified this issue in a matter of moments, you chose not to check with the Department before making these highly inflammatory and erroneous accusations in a public forum.”

The Republican report went on to accuse the White House and senior State Department officials of altering talking points drafted by the intelligence community in order to protect the department in the days after the attack. And it criticized President Obama, saying he “failed to proactively anticipate the significance of September 11 and provide the Department of Defense with the authority to launch offensive operations beyond self-defense.”