Issa: State Department ‘withholding information’ on Benghazi

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa on Tuesday accused the Obama administration of “withholding information” about the Benghazi terror attack. The California Republican has subpoenaed more documents related to the talking points on the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate that left four Americans dead.

In a subpoena sent Tuesday, Issa requested “all documents and communications referring or relating to the Benghazi talking points” sent to or from a list of ten current and former State Department officials.

“The State Department has not lived up to the Administration’s broad and unambiguous promises of cooperation with Congress,” Issa said in a letter sent Tuesday to Kerry. “Therefore, I am left with no alternative but to compel the State Department to produce relevant documents through a subpoena.”

On May 15, the White House released 100 pages of emails and documents on the subject. Those same documents, according to Issa’s letter, were forwarded to the committee several days later in response to a request.

Issa said that was not sufficient information, saying that information “crucial” to his committee’s investigation was being “withheld.”

In the emails, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland raised concerns about including some information, such as any mention of al-Qaida involvement in the attack, for fear that it would leave the State Department open to criticism.

But Issa said questions remain because the correspondence “suggests that she did not raise these concerns in a vacuum.”

The deadline for Secretary of State John Kerry to turn over the documents is Friday, June 7, 2013, at noon.

State Department spokesman Patrick H. Ventrell pushed back on the idea that the State Department had been anything but helpful in the Oversight Committee’s investigation.

“We have demonstrated an unprecedented degree of cooperation with the Congress on the issue of Benghazi, engaging in over 30 hearings and briefings for Members and staff, and sharing over 25,000 pages of documents with Committees,” Ventrell said in a statement.

“The State Department remains committed to working cooperatively with the Congress and we will take stock of any new or outstanding requests for information, and determine the appropriate next steps,” he said.

“Secretary Kerry and the President are focused first and foremost on implementing the ARB’s recommendations and going above and beyond — to ensure that our men and women have the security they need to carry out their vital missions. All of us — in the Administration, in the Congress, in the media — we should all be focused on the issue of protecting the American diplomats and development experts who are working every day to advance America’s national interest and global leadership,” he added.

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