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The chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi blasted the Defense Department’s criticism of the committee’s investigation of the deadly 2012 attack that took four American lives.
Rep. Trey Gowdy presented his objections in a scathing four-page letter advising Defense Secretary Ash Carter that his legislative affairs assistant had deliberately mischaracterized the committee’s work.
“It is also riddled with factual inaccuracies, which not only does a disservice to the public but also does a disservice to the women and men who work for the Department of Defense,” the South Carolina Republican wrote.
The Associated Press reported:
Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, died during the twin assaults on Sept. 11, 2012. Questions about security at the diplomatic facility have hounded front-running Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time.
In an April 28 letter to Gowdy, Stephen C. Hedger, assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, expressed frustration with what he described as the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s potentially futile calls for witnesses and information. He also cited the inquiry’s “crescendo” of costly, duplicative and unnecessary requests, including a few based on claims made on Facebook or talk radio.
“This type of questioning poses the risk that your final report may be based on speculation rather than a fact-based analysis of what a military officer did do or could have done given his or her knowledge at the time of the attacks,” Hedger wrote.
Gowdy observed that Hedger could have simply voiced his objections to committee members personally or in a telephone call. However, he noted, “that would have denied your assistant secretary the chance at an overtly partisan letter, which was both drafted and leaked for said purposes.”
Gowdy also accused Hedger of coordinating with House Democrats, but said that such a ploy wouldn’t stop the committee’s work.
Your staff is welcome to waste taxpayer dollars writing partisan, factually deficient letters to out Committee, coordinate the language with House Democrats, and then leak it to the media. That is your prerogative. It will not prevent this Committee from interviewing all witnesses who can help us write the final, definitive accounting of what happened before, during , and after the attacks the killed four Americans in Benghazi and injured others. It will just prolong the investigation. I have been encouraged by too many soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines across the country to allow letters from political appointees to stop us.
Jennifer Werner, a spokeswoman for the Benghazi committee’s Democrats, called the committee’s work a waste of time.
“Select committee Republicans should stop blaming everyone else for their own failings and put an end to this wasteful charade of an investigation,” she said.
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