Congress ignores Obama, pushes ahead on Benghazi

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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President Barack Obama and other executive-branch officials have made clear that they don’t think that further discussion is needed on the Benghazi attacks, but Congress is not done with the issue.

At a press briefing Tuesday, President Barack Obama denied knowledge of allegations from some Republican senators that survivors of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi were being blocked from testifying before Congress.

“I’m not familiar with this notion that anybody’s been blocked from testifying,” Obama said. “What I’ve been very clear about from the start is that our job with respect to Benghazi has been to find out exactly what happened, to make sure that U.S. embassies — not just in the Middle East but around the world — are safe and secure and to bring those who carried it out to justice.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, who assumed his cabinet post several months after the attack, said Tuesday that the Department of State remains committed to working with Congress to clarify remaining questions on the subject. However, Kerry added that there is a lot of false information floating around that needed to be dispelled.

“I do not want to spend the next year coming up here talking about Benghazi,” Kerry said.

Still, Republican members of Congress remain unconvinced that all there is to say has been said on the subject.

On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee announced a hearing on the attacks scheduled for next Wednesday.

“This administration has offered the American people only a carefully selected and sanitized version of events from before, during, and after the Benghazi terrorist attack,” Committee Chairman Darrel Issa charged. “Not surprisingly, this version of events casts senior officials in the most favorable light possible.”

“Next week’s hearing,” he promised, “will expose new facts and details that the Obama administration has tried to suppress.”

On Wednesday, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for similar hearings to be held on the other side of the Capitol.

“[E]ight months after Benghazi, too many important questions remain unanswered,” Johnson said.

“I was shocked that President Obama, in his press conference yesterday, revealed that he was ignorant of these developing events,” Johnson continued. “This leads me to believe that this administration has no interest in providing answers to the American people. The House will be conducting new hearings on May 8th. I strongly urge the Senate to hold new hearings on Benghazi and include in those hearings people who were on the ground in Libya during the attacks.”

Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte sent a letter to Obama on Wednesday asking the administration to release the names of the survivors so that Congress could speak to them and “gain a clearer understanding of what happened before, during, and after the attack” that left four Americans dead. The senators offered to respect confidentiality concerns.

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