Lawmakers in the House have proposed establishing a Watergate-style investigatory committee aimed at exploring every aspect of the Sept. 11, 2012, terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, that claimed the lives of four Americans.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.) and a delegation of his colleagues introduced a resolution Tuesday to establish a House select committee, much like the one that investigated and ultimately brought down former President Richard Nixon.
The committee “would combine all existing investigations into a single and exhaustive review of the event and the subsequent revelations that followed, much like the select committees that were established during Watergate and the Iran Contra scandals of the 1970s,” Wolf said in a statement.
Wolf, a vocal critic of the administration’s response to the attacks, already petitioned House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) to create a select committee last month.
The Benghazi commission would be comprised of top lawmakers serving on key House committees, including the Intelligence, Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Judiciary committees.
Boehner would appoint five additional Republicans. Two additional Democrats would be appointed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.).
“The Congress has an obligation to fully investigate this attack in order to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities as it does its legislative work, particularly when it comes to national security and defending the homeland,” Wolf wrote in his letter to Boehner.
“It also has a responsibility to educate the American people on the circumstances surrounding the attack, which led to the death of four Americas, including a U.S. ambassador.”
“Too many questions remain surrounding the Benghazi attack and response,” Wolf wrote in the letter to Boehner. “The Congress owes it to the families of the victims of this terrorist attack, and the American people, to fully investigate this tragedy.”
The Benghazi committee would have the ability to summon central administration figures and others to testify about the attacks with full subpoena power.
It is likely that lawmakers would subpoena United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, who has become the face of the administration’s botched response to the attacks.
Rice, a possible nominee to be the administration’s next secretary of state, promulgated erroneous talking points claiming the attacks were the result of a “spontaneous” protest.
However, evidence indicates the White House and its intelligence agencies were aware soon after the assault that terrorists had carried out the attacks.
The resolution proposing the Benghazi committee garnered initial support from 14 Republican lawmakers, including: Reps. Paul Broun (R., Ga.), John Campbell (R., Calif.), Joe Wilson (R., S.C.), Louie Gohmert (R., Texas), John Abney Culberson (R., Texas), Robert Aderholt (R., Ala.), Chip Cravaack (R., Minn.), Mo Brooks (R., Ala.), Robert Wittman (R., Va.), Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.), Tim Griffin (R., Ark.), Patrick Meehan (R., Pa.), Bill Posey (R., Fla.), and Steve King (R., Iowa).
The Benghazi panel has also received an endorsement from former Sen. Fred Thompson (R., Tenn.), who famously served as legal counsel on the Watergate Select Committee that investigated Nixon.
“The scope of the questions that involve an array of officials, and sensitive agencies and departments of our government, is unprecedented,” Thompson wrote at Real Clear Politics. “The inquiry into what happened and why, along with who is or should be accountable, calls for a focused, responsible effort equal to the seriousness and the complexities the issues.”