Issa: 'Disturbing and Perhaps Criminal' That WH Withheld Key Benghazi Documents
(CNSNews.com) - Documents relating to the Sept. 11, 2012 terror attack in Benghazi -- released by the White House just days ago under a Freedom of Information Act Request -- should have been turned over to Congress a year and a half ago, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told a hearing of the House Oversight Committee on Thursday.
Some of the newly released documents indicate that the White House -- two months before the presidential election -- encouraged Susan Rice to blame the deadly Benghazi attack on a protest stemming from an obscure anti-Muslim video.
"In pushing the false narrative that a YouTube video was responsible for the deaths of four brave Americans, it is disturbing and perhaps criminal that these documents -- that documents like these -- were hidden by the Obama administration from Congress and the public alike, particularly after Secretary Kerry pledged cooperation and the president himself told the American people in November of 2012 that, quote, 'every bit of information we have on Benghazi has been provided,'" Issa said.
Issa said the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which he chairs, continues to get documents from the State Department -- more than 3,200 of them since late March. He said many of them have never been seen by anyone outside the administration.
"And all of which -- I repeat, all of which -- should have been turned over more than a year and a half ago when the committee launched its investigation."
Issa said some of the documents, which were brought to light only days ago through a FOIA request by a group called Judicial Watch, show that the "White House produced the talking points that Ambassador Rice used, not the intellligence committee."
On Wednesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney repeatedly insisted that Susan Rice used talking points prepared by the intelligence community. He said one of the White House emails obtained by Judicial Watch was not about Benghazi at all -- but about protests in the larger Muslim world.
That email, written by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, talked about preparing Susan Rice to go on five Sunday talk shows two days later. It listed four "goals," including "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”
"This committee's job is to get to the facts and to the truth," Issa said at the opening of Thursday's hearing. "I for one will continue to chip away at this until we get the whole truth."
Testifying at Thursday's hearing were Retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell; Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Kori Schake, research fellow at the Hoover Institution; and Frederic Wehrey, senior associate for the Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.