WASHINGTON — Rep. Tom Cole called Monday for a special committee to investigate the terrorist attack that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, in Libya last year.
Cole, R-Moore, said he had signed on to legislation that would create a select committee to review the killings in Benghazi, which are the subject of an ongoing investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Monday afternoon, the legislation had 139 co-sponsors, including Reps. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa; Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne; and Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville.
Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, who is not co-sponsoring the legislation, is a member of the Oversight Committee and has been questioning witnesses before the panel. He said Monday that he wouldn't support a select committee “until we have exhausted all possible leads and have hit complete road blocks on key unanswered questions.”
Lankford said Monday he was proud of the “tenacious efforts of the Oversight Committee on which I sit and the four other committees of jurisdiction that have worked to find the truth about the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi terrorist attack.
“In the past six months, we have learned a great deal about what led up to the attack, and we have identified multiple questions that still lack an answer. We continue to make progress in the investigation, even though the administration has slow-walked details surrounding that night.”
Cole said the oversight committee's hearing last week, in which three State Department officials testified about the security shortfalls in Benghazi and unheeded warnings about the threats, “made great strides in finding more answers and uncovering new developments.''
Cole said, however, that there was much work left that could best be done by a bipartisan select committee. Since five different House committees have jurisdiction over aspects of the investigation, a select committee could streamline the process and produce a definitive report, Cole said.
“Eight months after the unthinkable terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, we are still seeking answers to what happened that night,” Cole said. “After all this time, we should have resolved what circumstances led to the murder of four Americans, what was done to prevent the attack, and how it was handled and presented by President (Barack) Obama and Secretary of State (Hillary) Clinton.”
At a glance
Obama accused of hiding facts
Republicans insist that the Obama administration misled Congress and the American people in the immediate aftermath of the attack, trying to play down an act of terrorism that would reflect poorly on President Barack Obama weeks before the 2012 presidential election.
Emails disclosed Friday showed that State Department and other senior administration officials pushed for references to prior warnings and al-Qaida to be deleted from the talking points used by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice five days after the attack. One email suggested that Congress could use those issues as ammunition against the State Department.