On the eve of the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s first open hearing, the panel’s Democrats on Tuesday will unveil a website dismissing some recurring Republican questions about the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack as “asked and answered.”
What was President Obama doing during the deadly September 11, 2012, terrorist strikes on American facilities in Benghazi, Libya? In the months before the attacks, did Hillary Clinton personally reject pleas for tighter security? And why was the United States “the last flag flying” in Benghazi after other world powers had fled the volatile city?
Those questions and 10 others will be featured on the new site, which goes live one day before the committee holds its first open hearing. It will be accessible through the committee Democrats’ site.
“As I have talked to people across the country about their unanswered questions relating to the attacks in Benghazi, I have found very few who realize just how much work has already been done,” the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said in a statement provided to Yahoo News.
The effort seems designed in part to convince the committee’s chairman, Republican Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, to limit the scale and scope of an investigation that many Democrats fear could be used as a political weapon against Clinton if she runs for president in 2016.
Cummings said he hoped the site would help “to ensure that we make full use of the extensive investigations that have already been completed to define our scope, avoid duplication, and conserve taxpayer dollars.”
Gowdy has noticeably toned down his rhetoric about Benghazi since the committee was formed. And the panel’s first hearing will focus on a subject suggested by Democrats: How well the State Department has implemented advice from an independent board that investigated the tragedy.
Yahoo News got a preview of the site on Monday in the committee Democrats’ austere basement headquarters in a House of Representatives office building. Cummings’ office did not inform Gowdy’s office about the project, which was 14 weeks in the making, until late Monday afternoon. The South Carolina lawmaker himself makes 28 appearances on the site.
The website looks like the kind of slick online messaging that a well funded presidential campaign might produce. But Democrats underline that they’re not purely doing damage control for the Obama administration or for Clinton. They point out that the section on embassy security steers readers to sharp criticisms of the State Department.
Time pressures limited the number of questions to 13, Democrats say, and the site is not meant to be comprehensive. But visitors can look up a question and then follow links to see what Congress’ nine previous investigations have turned up. They can also search the 13 questions to see which lawmakers have been asking them, or hunt for specific keywords.
For the nondigital, Democrats have put their findings in a 133-page “Compendium of Investigative Resources.”
The full list of asked-and-answered questions:
Did Secretary Clinton personally authorize cables that reduced State Department security?
Why was security in Benghazi inadequate despite repeated requests?
Why was the U.S. the “last flag flying” in Benghazi?
Did the Pentagon fail to deploy military assets that could have saved lives on the night of the attacks?
Did the Pentagon fail to deploy F-16s that would have saved lives?
Did the Pentagon order four military personnel in Tripoli to “stand down?”
Did CIA Deputy Director Morell alter the talking points for political reasons?
Did Ambassador Rice intentionally misrepresent the facts on Sunday talk shows after the attacks?
What is the origin of the idea that a video motivated the attacks?
Where was the President and what did he do on the night of the attacks?
Did Secretary of State Clinton order Secretary of Defense Panetta to “stand down”?
Was the CIA security team improperly prevented from departing for the Benghazi diplomatic compound?
Did the U.S. engage in illegal gunrunning from Libya to arm rebels in Syria?
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