(Photo: Reuters/Jose Luis Magana)
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during Monday's briefing that any further investigation by Congress into the Benghazi attacks would be "highly partisan efforts to politicize a tragedy," based on "conspiracy theories" that have been reported as facts by some media outlets and Republican politicians.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced Monday afternoon that he will appoint South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy to head a bi-partisan select committee that will investigate the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, after the House votes to approve the committee.
At the same time as Boehner's announcement, Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson for the State Department, said during Monday's briefing that after being subpoenaed last Friday by Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to testify on May 21 about Benghazi, Secretary of State John Kerry will not appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on that date because he will be in Mexico on official business.
Harf added that Kerry would not cancel his trip to Mexico to testify at the hearing because it would "be a waste of his time and taxpayers' money."
Clare Lopez, a former CIA officer who is part of the Citizens' Commission on Benghazi that was created by the conservative media watchdog group Accuracy in Media, told Fox News host Mike Huckabee on his weekend program that documents recently obtained by Judicial Watch reveal that the White House, and not just the CIA, removed any mention of Benghazi being a terrorist attack, and instead placed the blame on protesters who were incited by the YouTube video, "Innocence of Muslims."
"As we now know, CIA acting director Mike Morell took part in the alteration of the talking points. But the White House — at the highest levels in the White House — altered those talking points to remove references to al Qaeda and to it being a terrorist attack for the crass political purpose of shielding a presidential campaign," Lopez asserted.
Harf suggested during Monday's State Department press briefing that Kerry might consider providing testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sometime after May 21, even though the Benghazi attacks happened under his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, if Issa coordinates with the State Department instead of opting to issue a subpoena.
Lopez told Huckabee that if the committee does have an opportunity to ask Kerry questions about Benghazi, she believes they should ask about archived documents that should've been saved at the State Department during Clinton's tenure.
This would include "all of the records of telephone calls, the video of the mission and the attack that night, as well as cable traffic from other departments — military commands, for instance — about what they were doing and how ready they were to step in or to go forward and to mount an attempt at a rescue of our people."
She added that Kerry needs to explain why the military was "held back" from taking action in an attempt to rescue the Americans who were under siege.
Among the findings of the CCB is that that the Department of State, Department of Defense, the White House and the National Security Council intelligence community "all participated and agreed in helping to facilitate the delivery of weapons to al Qaeda, the militias that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, and ultimately the same militias that came back and attacked our mission and killed our people."
The 30-page CCB report, "How America Switched Sides in the War on Terror" highlights the group's key findings which includes the following:
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the U.S. government's support for the Brotherhood-led Libyan Transitional National Council in its revolt against Muammar Qaddafi on March 18, 2011.
- The U.S. facilitated the delivery of weapons and military support to al Qaeda-linked rebels in Libya.
- Qaddafi had expressed his willingness to abdicate shortly after the beginning of the 2011
- Libyan Muslim Brotherhood leadership of the TNC and the al-Qaeda-affiliated militia (Ansar al-Shariah) have been named responsible for the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.
- There were military assets at the U.S. base in Sigonella, in Sicily, Italy, that could have been deployed to Benghazi and possibly saved the lives of Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty who were killed at the CIA Annex.