Issa vows to expand Benghazi probe, faults State's accountability

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) vowed to expand the scope of his Benghazi probe Tuesday after four State Department employees disciplined over the attack were reinstated by Secretary of State John Kerry. 

Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said Kerry's actions showed the administration was not living up to its promise to punish those responsible for security failings at the Benghazi consulate, where U.S. Ambassador Christopher Smith and three others were killed in a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2012.

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“Instead of accountability, the State Department offered a charade that included false reports of firings and resignations and now ends in a game of musical chairs where no one misses a single day on the State Department payroll,” Issa said in a statement.

The four employees were placed on administrative leave last December after an independent State Department review faulted the agency for security lapses and “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies.” 

The so-called Accountability Review Board, however, did not recommend anybody be fired because it “did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty.”

Issa called the department's personnel actions “more of a public relations strategy than a measured response to a failure in leadership.” 

Issa has led the charge on Capitol Hill to investigate what Republicans say are unanswered questions about Benghazi, using his panel's subpoena powers to access State Department records and witnesses. The renewed focus ahead of the one-year anniversary of the attack comes as Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is under growing pressure to create a select committee to probe the attack.

“In the course of our investigation, the Oversight Committee learned that the State Department’s review of these four individuals did not include interviews with them or their supervisors to either substantiate or challenge allegations,” Issa said Tuesday. “The Oversight Committee will expand its investigation of the Benghazi terrorist attack to include how a supposed ‘Accountability Review Board’ investigation resulted in a decision by Secretary Kerry not to pursue any accountability from anyone.”

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