Benghazi Bickering Continues in Congress

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted September 16, 2013 at 2:02pm

Congress continues to tumble down the partisan rabbit hole of Benghazi.

On the same day that House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., released a report criticizing the State Department’s review of Benghazi, the ranking Democrat on the committee, Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, released a report criticizing Issa’s review.

In a press release Monday, Cummings said the unofficial committee report was “completely partisan” and that Issa “apparently” didn’t want committee members to see the report before he leaked it to the press. Cummings maintained that rather than “focusing on the reforms recommended” by the State Department Accountability Review Board, “Republicans have politicized the investigation by engaging in a systematic effort to launch unsubstantiated accusations against the Pentagon, the State Department, the President, and now the ARB itself.”

Cummings released his own report Monday, titled “Fact v. Fiction: Top Ten Unfounded Allegations About the Attacks in Benghazi.

Issa maintained that the State Department review was “not fully independent.”

“The panel did not exhaustively examine failures and it has led to an unacceptable lack of accountability,” Issa said in a release Monday. “While Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen have honorably served their country, the families of victims and the American people continue to wait for more conclusive answers about how our government left our own personnel so vulnerable and alone the night of the attack.”

Issa’s 98-page report charges that the ARB investigation was not comprehensive, that the State Department obstructed the congressional investigation, and that the ARB may have been affected by conflicts of interest.

The dueling reports issued on the same day are just the latest components in a year’s worth of partisan bickering over the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Issa has emerged as a chief critic of the administration’s handling of Benghazi, while Cummings has become the White House’s chief defender in Congress.