The Select Committee keeps plugging away
Out of the spotlight, the House Select Committee on Benghazi quietly conducted its sixty-first interview Thursday.
Today, the committee interviewed a witness from the national security community. This was the 61st interview conducted to date.
— Benghazi Committee (@HouseBenghazi) December 10, 2015
The Select Committee is on track to interview 70 witnesses prior to releasing its report. According to the Committee’s press shop:
“The Select Committee is on track to complete more than 70 witness interviews before releasing its report in just a few months. And while our investigators are still waiting to receive some documents necessary to complete their work, they have already obtained and reviewed roughly 100,000 pages. These witnesses and documents come from the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the White House, the CIA and elsewhere, and the majority of them were never examined by a congressional committee. For example, the Select Committee is the first and only Benghazi investigation to include the Secretary of State’s emails, and the first to request Ambassador Chris Stevens’ emails. This thorough, fact-centered approach to finding the truth will provide the final, definitive accounting of what happened before, during and after the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks, and help prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”
Yesterday, the Select Committee interviewed its 60th witness to date, questioning Jeffrey Feltman, the former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. This was one of five scheduled interviews announced by the Select Committee last week.
The current interview breakdown is as follows:
Total number of witnesses interviewed so far: 60
Witnesses never before interviewed by a congressional committee: 51
Eyewitnesses to the attacks never before interviewed by a congressional committee: 7
Total number of pages of documents obtained and reviewed: approximately 100,000
Pages of documents never before obtained or reviewed by a congressional committee: approximately 67,000
State Department emails related to Benghazi and Libya obtained and reviewed despite the fact that the Obama administration was not in possession of them: 15
Earlier this week, an email obtain via FOIA by Judicial Watch taunted the partisans seeking to politicize the Benghazi tragedy. A partially redacted version of the email appeared to contradict the testimony of key Obama administration officials made in 2013, namely that immediate response to the rapidly escalating situation at the Benghazi embassy was not possible.
Democrats then responded to the Judicial Watch email by release the unredacted email. The Hill covered that messy little spat:
On Wednesday, Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi released an unredacted email showing that the Defense Department had identified military forces to send to Benghazi to assist American officials under attack.
Republicans quickly fired back, however, accusing the minority party of trying to undermine their investigation for political reasons.
The Democrats released their email a day after conservative legal group Judicial Watch released a slightly redacted version, which it had won access to under the Freedom of Information Act. At the time, conservative outlets such as Fox News said that the email was a “smoking gun” that undermined testimony from former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
But the unredacted version of the email makes clear that the forces under discussion to move to Benghazi were the same ones that previous investigations had claimed were on the move: a Marine Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams (FAST) and a special operations force out of Croatia.
“This email is yet another example of how conservative conspiracy theorists use bits of information out of context to rehash baseless allegations that have been debunked time and again,” a Democratic committee spokesman said.
Late in the day, Republicans fired back.
The decision to release the email “is further proof that Democrats are focused solely on playing politics and protecting Hillary Clinton,” committee spokesman Matt Wolking said, “not on conducting a serious investigation and getting the truth for the families of the four Americans who lost their lives.”
Democrats seized upon a poorly worded statement by Rep. Kevin McCarthy to paint the Select Committee which was established with bipartisan support and made up of both Democrats and Republicans, as a means to destroy Hillary Clinton’s presidential run. Democrats also claim the Select Committee is one of the longest running Congressional investigations, which as the Committee’s spokesman pointed out, was a claim proved false by PolitiFact.
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