House Democrats have decided to participate in the Republican-led inquiry into the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya. In a brief statement, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she will appoint the full complement of five Democrats to the 12-member panel, tapping lawmakers who have been deeply involved in previous congressional investigations of the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.
The new committee members are Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee; Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee; Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee; Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), the senior Democratic House whip; and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a member of the Oversight and Armed Services committees.
Democrats have been divided over whether to boycott the investigation, which they claim is designed to smear the party’s reputation going into a presidential election cycle. Republicans insist the committee is needed to answer questions about the attack that still linger in the minds of the public and family members whose loved ones died that night in Benghazi.
Those questions again rose to the surface of congressional debate on the first of this month, when retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Lovell testified about the attack on the American diplomatic compound. Lovell said the U.S. State Department kept the military from responding when militants stormed the embassy compound. Lovell’s testimony came just days after the release of emails showing the White House encouraged the spread of misinformation about the origination of the attack.
One of the many noteworthy things about Lovell’s testimony was most Americans were unaware of it. The major networks, and much of the media as a whole, simply shrugged it off.
ABC News devoted 46 seconds to the hearing that evening. CBS and NBC ignored it all together. Last week, NBC’s political director Chuck Todd appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and suggested Benghazi was a tired, flatlining story that Republicans were desperately trying to shock back to life.
“I’ll hear from Republicans that say there are unanswered questions,” Todd said. “Well, no. All the questions have been answered. There’s just some people that don’t like the answers, who wish the answers were more conspiratorial, I guess.”
In a press conference that went viral, Congressman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., asked pointed questions about the attack, including why a military rescue was not attempted. Lovell’s testimony suggested it might have been the State Department’s call, but who within the State Department made the decision not to ask the military to help, and why?
Lovell’s testimony also revealed President Barack Obama was not in the Situation Room during the attack. The White House won’t say where he was or clarify his role in directing the response.
Republicans aren’t the only ones with lingering questions. Family members of those who died in Benghazi say they don’t have the answers they want, either.
Patricia Smith is the mother Sean Smith, a U.S. diplomat who was killed in the attack. She told WORLD that, shortly after her son died, she spoke with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama, and others as the caskets arrived in the United States. They all promised to keep in touch and personally give her the answers as the facts became clearer.
“Hillary and Obama and (Vice President Joe) Biden, (former CIA director Leon) Panetta—all at the casket ceremony—and Susan (Rice, former National Security Adviser) all, every one of them, told me, we’re with you. … It was the fault of the video, and if we find out anything different, we’ll let you know. And that’s the last I’ve heard from any of them.”
Listen to Kent Covington’s full report on the latest Benghazi developments on The World and Everything in It: