By Julian Pecquet - 09/16/13 06:37 PM EDT
Democrats are lambasting Republicans' latest Benghazi report as just the latest in a series of “completely partisan” productions from the House Oversight panel.
Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) over the weekend released a report slamming the State Department's independent investigation and accusing the State Department of obstructing his panel's probe. Issa's committee is holding a hearing Thursday with the lead auditors and with family members of the four Americans killed in last year's attack on the U.S. mission.
“This Republican report is not an official Committee report, but rather a completely partisan staff report that the Chairman apparently didn’t want Committee Members to see before he leaked it to the press,” the top Democrat on the panel, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), said in a statement Monday.
“Rather than focusing on the reforms recommended by the ARB [Accountability Review Board], Republicans have politicized the investigation by engaging in a systematic effort to launch unsubstantiated accusations against the Pentagon, the State Department, the President, and now the ARB itself.”
These include allegations that the administration could have deployed assets to save Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the three other Americans who died in the attack; told special forces to stand down; and “deliberately misled” the public about what happened the night of Sept. 11, 2012.
Issa's staff defended the report.
“If it had been left up to Ranking Member Cummings, the American people would still be left with the Administration’s deeply politicized explanation that the Benghazi terrorist attack was just a protest of a YouTube video that got out of hand," spokesman Frederick Hill told The Hill in an e-mail. "The report released by Chairman Issa contains 235 footnoted facts along with the release of 350 pages of transcribed interviews. Ranking Member Cummings frequently espouses a misguided view that congressional oversight is partisan when it questions the assertions of senior Administration officials.”
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