Issa defends release of Libya diplomatic cables

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Sunday pushed back against criticism that his release of diplomatic cables had endangered the lives of Libyans, accusing the administration of “falsely politicizing the issue.”

In particular, Issa disputed claims from an administration official that a human-rights activist identified in the cables was in danger in Libya, claiming that a past visit to the U.S. by the activist had already been publicly documented.


“The Libyan-rights activist who was highlighted by the Obama administration in news accounts as having not been ‘publicly associated with the U.S.’ until the Oversight Committee released documents had actually been brought to the U.S. in December 2011 by the State Department and her trip is highlighted on the Internet,” said Issa in the statement, released late Sunday night.

“President Obama should be ashamed of yet another example where his administration has been caught trying to mislead the American people about what happened in Libya,” he continued. 

“Obama administration officials and their surrogates are clearly reeling from revelations about how the situation in Benghazi was mishandled and are falsely politicizing the issue in a last-ditch effort to save President Obama’s reelection effort,” Issa added.

Top Democrats and members of President Obama’s reelection team had blasted Issa over the weekend for the release of State Department cables, which they said had compromised Libyans covertly working with the U.S.

Issa is probing the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, dead, and on Friday he issued a sharply worded letter to President Obama, calling on the administration to explain why security measures in Libya were downgraded before the attack.

Congressional Republicans and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney have hammered the administration, accusing officials of taking too long to identify the attack on the Benghazi compound as an act of terrorism and questioning why more security precautions were not taken before the assault.

Accompanying Issa’s letter were 100 pages of diplomatic messages detailing embassy requests for additional security in Libya.

On Friday, a report in Foreign Policy magazine online said that the documents had failed to redact the names of many Libyans working with the U.S.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairmen John KerryJohn KerryBudowsky: President Biden for the Nobel Peace Prize Bishops to debate banning communion for president In Europe, Biden seeks to reassert U.S. climate leadership MORE (D-Mass.) led the criticism from Democrats, calling the disclosures “irresponsible and inexcusable.”

Senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod on Sunday accused Issa of “recklessly” putting the lives of Libyan allies at risk in an effort to “score political points in the final weeks before an election.”

Issa on Sunday rejected that criticism, saying that his disclosures had not endangered lives and that the administration was seeking to deflect tough questions about the consulate attack.

“I applaud the bravery of this activist and other Libyans who are willing to speak publicly and work in positions that put them in regular contact with diplomatic officials,” Issa said in his statement. “They deserve better than to have the Obama administration parade them out as part of their election campaign strategy to distract Americans from legitimate questions about the handling of security and the response to a terrorist attack.”