President Barack Obama may have won re-election, but Republicans in Congress are making it clear that he has not dodged hard questions on the administration‚??s handling of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) led the charge, sending a letter Wednesday to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterating demands for access to State Department cables detailing security requests made by the consulate before, during, and after the deadly attacks and for real-time updates in the ongoing investigation.
‚??It is disappointing that we have yet to receive any response from your Department and that we are receiving more information from the press than from the Administration,‚?Ě Ros-Lehtinen wrote.
She also asked Clinton to present State Department officials to testify in a hearing to be held later this month.
Others in Congress want Clinton herself to appear.
Clinton has publicly taken responsibility for any security missteps or miscommunication regarding the Benghazi murders, but has avoided a Congressional hearing and downplayed a slow trickle of damning media reports showing the instability of the Benghazi region prior to the attacks and the insufficiency of the State Department‚??s response to the consulate‚??s requests for added security and aid.
‚??Her absence is profound,‚?Ě said Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) A member of the Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Government Reform committees, Kelly authored a Nov. 2 letter with 52 co-signers, asking Obama and Clinton what they had learned in security briefings about Benghazi prior to the attacks.
‚??People need to know why this was handled so casually,‚?Ě Kelly said.
The House and the Senate are both poised to hold hearings this month that will illuminate these issues.
The House Intelligence Committee will conduct a Nov. 15 closed hearing with National Intelligence Director James Clapper and CIA director David Petraeus in attendance. The Senate Intelligence Committee plans a closed hearing on Benghazi the same day.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will also hold a closed-door hearing on the matter that week. It‚??s not clear who will testify at the Senate hearings.