By Jonathan Easley - 10/21/12 04:08 PM EDT
Democrats on Sunday expressed fury over House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) release of State Department cables that they say has jeopardized the lives of those working with the U.S. on the ground in Libya.
David Axelrod, senior campaign adviser to President Obama, accused Issa of “recklessly putting their lives at risk.”
“Chairman Issa in the House Republican side released a ream of documents that he asked for that included the names of people on the ground in Libya who are cooperating with us and helping us on these security issues jeopardizing their lives, carelessly, recklessly putting their lives at risk,” he said on NBC’s Meet The Press.
“That’s disgraceful, and the way they’ve handled this is disgraceful,” he added.
Issa is investigating the administration’s readiness and response to an attack last month on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, dead.
On Friday, Foreign Policy magazine reported that the 166 pages of “sensitive but unclassified” State Department communications Issa released failed to redact the names of those operating covertly on behalf of the U.S. in Libya.
“This idea of Chairman Issa that he's going to dump the names in public of Libyans who are risking their lives to support America and keep us safe in an effort to get a political toehold in this election is unconscionable,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told Fox News. “It is unacceptable.”
It’s the latest controversy in the still-unfolding saga surrounding the attacks, which both sides have accused the other side of politicizing.
Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans for weeks have been lambasting the president for taking too long to qualify the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead on Sept. 11 as a result of terrorism.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice and many senior administration officials initially blamed the assault as being sparked by anger over an anti-Islam video. The administration later said intelligence suggested it was a planned attack.
The administration contends they’ve been reporting what they get from the intelligence community as they get it, so the timeline will change as more information becomes available.
Republicans have also questioned why more security wasn’t present at the consulate before the attack. In a radio interview earlier this week, vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said this was evidence Obama’s foreign policy was “unraveling.”
“I think that’s nonsense,” Axelrod shot back on Sunday. “There’s only one candidate here who’s tried to exploit it from the beginning. Even while the flames were burning in Benghazi, Mitt Romney was sending out political press releases on this and the whole Republican Party has followed…and to hear Paul Ryan make this case, who as Budget Committee chair wanted to cut back on our requests for security funding for these embassies and consulates, makes it even worse.”