State Dept. turns over Benghazi documents

The State Department said late Friday that it turned over 97 pages of documents to congressional investigators examining the administration's response to the Sept. 11 terror attack in Benghazi.

Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said the production was in response to a subpoena from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and related to the development of talking points prepared ahead of media appearances by members of Congress and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.

Rice, who was elevated to national security adviser by President Obama earlier this week, has come under heavy criticism for her suggestion in a series of television appearances that the violence had grown spontaneously out of protests over an anti-Islam video.

The White House later acknowledged that the incident was a planned terror attack and said Rice’s comments were based on early intelligence assessments. Republicans, though, questioned whether administration officials sought to downplay terrorism ahead of the November, 2012, elections.

Psaki said nearly all the documents turned over Friday had been previously shared with the committee and released publicly. She also suggested that the subpoena was an attempt by congressional Republicans to politicize the attack.

"Unfortunately, the documents provided today will not advance the most critical goal we all share which is how to best protect the men and women working overseas to advance our foreign policy and strengthen our national security," Psaki said.

The spokesperson also argued the State Department had "demonstrated an unprecedented degree of cooperation with Congress," citing participation in eight congressional hearings and 35 inter-agency briefings for members of Congress. Psaki also said the State Department had previously turned over some 25,000 pages of material for congressional review.