South Carolina congressman tapped to lead House Benghazi panel

Reuters News
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Posted: May 05, 2014 2:48 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former prosecutor and outspoken critic of the Obama administration's handling of the 2012 Benghazi attacks was picked on Monday to lead a Republican-led congressional investigation of the deadly assault that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

South Carolina U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy, a member of the House Oversight Committee, will lead a panel investigating the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya, in which three other diplomats were also killed.

"I know he shares my commitment to get to the bottom of this tragedy and will not tolerate any stonewalling from the Obama administration," House Speaker John Boehner said, announcing Gowdy's selection as chairman of the select committee.

Boehner said he was forming the new panel on Friday, the same day the Oversight Committee announced a rare subpoena of a cabinet officer, Secretary of State John Kerry, to testify about Benghazi on May 21.

The State Department said on Monday it was still looking into whether Kerry would appear as demanded. He is scheduled to be in Mexico on that date.

Democrats accuse Republicans of using the attacks for political purposes, with an eye toward discrediting then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, considered a likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate.

Eight different congressional committees have investigated the attacks, holding more than a dozen hearings and 50 briefings, and examining 25,000 pages of documents.

Republicans accuse President Barack Obama's administration of attempting to mislead Americans about the Benghazi attacks out of fear it would tarnish his foreign policy record as he ran for re-election in November 2012.

U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said on Monday that House Democrats had not yet decided whether they would participate in the special committee. He said they had not yet received any details of the Republicans' plans for the panel, including how many members of the two parties would be represented on it.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Bernadette Baum)