Three Senate Republicans are calling for the creation of a select committee to investigate the Obama White House’s failure to stop the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya, dead.
Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), and Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) sent a letter to Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) calling for the establishment of a temporary select committee in order to answer the questions still swirling around the assault. The trio is calling for the creation of a temporary committee due to the complexity of the issue and its relevance to a variety of congressional committees.
"This tragedy has raised many important questions that affect the national security of the United States and the safety of those Americans who serve our country abroad," the letter states. "We believe that the complexity and gravity of this matter warrants the establishment of a temporary Select Committee that can conduct an integrated review of the many national security issues involved, which cut across multiple executive agencies and legislative committees—including Foreign Relations, Intelligence, Armed Services, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs."
The Republican senators listed a host of issues they would like to see addressed:
Among the issues we believe a Select Committee would need to examine are the following: the intelligence and other threat reporting that preceded the attack, the security measures and manpower decisions taken to protect our people in Benghazi prior to the attack, the military force posture in the region at the time of the attack and the resulting ability of our Armed Forces to respond in the event of a crisis, the response of U.S. government officials once the attack began, the public characterization of the attack in Benghazi in the days and weeks that followed, the adequacy of intelligence and intelligence-sharing during the attack, as well as other important issues. In addition, the Select Committee should make recommendations to guide executive and legislative action, as necessary, to affect changes to policy elsewhere in the world in light of lessons learned in this tragedy.
Earlier in the week, McCain, Graham, and Ayotte coauthored an op-ed in theWashington Times along with Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wisc.) asking five key questions about the Benghazi attack: why was security inadequate; why were armed forces not prepped to respond to a terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11; why did the Obama administration initially blame the violence on a YouTube video; did the administration deny aid to the besieged consulate in real time; and whether or not the administration believes the tide of war is actually "receding" in the face of renewed violence.
Pressure on the administration is mounting, as other media outlets have joined Fox News Channel in airing the conflicting reports emanating from sources with knowledge of the government response to the attacks. The Washington Postoffered up an editorial slamming the president for putting politics ahead of national security.
"[The] White House appears determined to put off any serious discussion of Benghazi until after the election," the Post wrote. "Sooner or later, however, the administration must answer questions about what increasingly looks like a major security failure—and about the policies that led to it."
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, wondered how the administration could leave such a volatile area so lightly defended:
Over the summer, the Red Cross and the U.K. closed their offices in Benghazi after attempted terrorist attacks and assassinations. A bomb went off outside the U.S. mission on June 6 but hurt no one. Ambassador Chris Stevens told his superiors in an August cable about a "security vacuum" in Benghazi. A different classified State cable sent in August, and obtained by Fox News this week, noted the growth of al Qaeda training camps and expressed concern about the Benghazi mission’s ability to defend against a coordinated attack. It said it would ask for "additional physical security upgrades and staffing."