At a hearing yesterday, the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee continued holding the Obama administration accountable for its failure to level with the American people about the nature of the terrorist attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi last year. At his weekly press conference today, Speaker Boehner backed the committee’s efforts by calling on President Obama to release e-mails – which his administration is withholding – that would shed light on what the administration knew about the attacks, and what it told the American people. Here’s more:
“I hope you all tuned in to yesterday’s hearing on the tragedy in Benghazi. We learned that on September 12 – the day after the attacks and four days before Susan Rice’s TV appearances – a senior State Department official emailed her superiors to relay that the Libyan ambassador – she had told the Libyan Ambassador that the attack was conducted by Islamic terrorists.
“The State Department would not allow our committees to keep copies of this email when it was reviewed. And I would call on the president to order the State Department to release this email so that the American people can see it.”
In his remarks, Boehner took the Obama administration to task for claiming it made only ‘stylistic’ changes to the talking points U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used in her five Sunday show television appearances five days following the attack. In fact, the recent interim report on Benghazi released by five House committees shows substantive changes to the talking points were made at the behest of the White House and the State Department – not the intelligence community, as the administration claims. As Boehner explained:
“We also know that the White House continues to claim it only made ‘stylistic’ changes to the talking points used by Susan Rice, ignoring the fact that senior White House officials directed the changes be made to those talking points.
“Our committees’ interim report quotes specific emails where the White House and State Department insisted on removing all references to the terrorist attack to protect the State Department from criticism for providing inadequate security. While a few of our Members were able to review these emails, they were not allowed to keep them or to share them with others. I would call on the president to release these unclassified inter-agency emails so that the American people can see them.”
“Last November the president said that … [he] would ‘be happy to cooperate’ with the Congress ‘in any way’ the Congress wants,” Boehner noted regarding the president’s November 14, 2012 statement suggesting his administration would cooperate fully. “This is his chance to show his cooperation so that we can get to the truth of what happened in Benghazi.” After months of stonewalling by the administration, Congress is committed to using every resource at its disposal to get the answers the American people deserve.