Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi! Schiff gets seat on Select Committee

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May 23, 2014

News analysis by Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California

The nakedly partisan move to create a Select Committee of the US House of Representatives to investigate the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya ended up looking as though it may backfire on the Republican caucus.

Representative Adam Schiff on the floor of the US House of Representatives.

Representative Adam Schiff on the floor of the US House of Representatives.

At issue are attacks against the American Embassy at Benghazi occurred on Sept. 11, 2012 that left American ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, along with three other Americans dead at the hands of terrorists.

Although Ambassador Stevens called for help, but it failed to materialize. Fox News accused the White House of deception in its Sunday talk show report of what happened.

Despite at least six investigations, both bi-partisan and non-partisan, no evidence of wrongdoing or cover-up has been found.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told WeHo News, “There’s no ‘there, there.’ We’ve had at least eight investigations into this… There is no controversy over this, there is no cover-up. It’s a tragedy – that’s what it was, a tragedy.”


Still, seeing a fundraising tool and a way to energize their base, the Republicans have milked the investigation for all it’s worth, and created the Select Committee. Select Committees can continue on after the close of a Congress, leaving it potentially open-ended.

Former-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Former-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Until now, chief investigator Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the Government Reform Committee, drew scorn when he cut off the microphone of the ranking Democratic committee member, Rep. Elijah Cummings, rather than hear objections to the manner of interrogatory.

The Democrats openly discussed boycotting the investigation before realizing that to sit at the table and block attacks would look better than standing aside.

Calling it Benghazi obsession, Rep. Schiff made the circuit of the talk shows to make the point that another investigation was a colossal waste of time.

With Joy Ann Reid on MSNBC’s The Reid Report, ha said, “You have to ask yourself after umpteen committees that have investigated Benghazi, when is enough, enough? What powers would this committee have that, for example, Darrel Issa and the Government Reform Committee haven’t already had? He has run that committee with an iron fist, had the power of subpoena. We saw what bipartisanship looks like on Benghazi most graphically, and one of the iconic images of this congress, when Darrell Issa tried to cut the microphone when Elijah Cummings was talking — that’s their idea of a bipartisan investigation.”

Representative Schiff, a former-prosecutor, asked why the Democratic Party should dignify another investigation. “…Why participate in that, why legitimize that? I come down on the side of recommending that we not do that. It’s not as if this was our first hearing, first committee on this…The Republican chair of the Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon, said at a certain point you’ve got to say when is asking the same questions over and over and getting the same answers.

“I’m clearly on the side that Democrats shouldn’t give this anymore credibility than this deserves –and it doesn’t deserve any credibility.”

To WeHo News he said, “Ambassador Stevens would be appalled to see what’s happening.”

Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi.

Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi.

Yet Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday that she appointed the following Members to the Select Committee on Benghazi.  Pelosi also announced that Congressman Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland will serve as Ranking Member.

The following Democratic Members will serve on the Select Committee on Benghazi:

·         Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member, Committee on Oversight & Government Reform

·         Adam Smith (D-WA), Ranking Member, Armed Services Committee

·         Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), Committee on Appropriations (Subcommittee on State & Foreign Operations), Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

·         Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA), Committee on Ways and Means (Subcommittee on Oversight)

·         Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Armed Services Committee, Committee on Oversight & Government Reform

West Hollywood’s congressman said, “I’ve been involved in the investigation into Benghazi from day one as a Member of the Intelligence Committee because like every other American I want to know what happened, why it happened, how we can keep it from happening again, and I want to bring to justice those that perpetrated this horrible attack. But almost 18 months later, and after 8 reports from House and Senate committees and the Accountability Review Board, the questions that this select committee purports to investigate have been asked and answered time and time and time again.

Rep. Adam Schiff represents the 28th Congressional District, of which West Hollywood is part.

Rep. Adam Schiff represents the 28th Congressional District, of which West Hollywood is part.

“This morning, Leader Pelosi asked if I would serve on the select committee on Benghazi. While I do not believe that yet another committee to investigate Benghazi is either needed or warranted, I said that if it was felt I could add value I would serve.

“We must keep our focus where it should have been all along – on the deaths of those four brave Americans, on finding those responsible and bringing them to justice, and on implementing changes to our overseas security to make sure this never happens again. It is my hope that this latest investigative effort does not degenerate into a select committee on talking points, and that we retain a focus on the things that really matter – improving security and finding the killers.”

Response to the two parties choices to man the committee has noted a difference in length of service and experience.

The Republican bench will consist of Reps. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.), Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.). They join Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who was named chairman of the committee.

Observers compare the war horses (Schiff, Cummings, Sanchez, Smith) with the GOP’s list of short-timers and are projecting difficulty for the Republicans. Today, Darrell Issa further mucked things up by claiming the existence of a “still-classified State Department email,” showing that “one of the first responses from the White House to the Benghazi attack was to contact YouTube to warn of the ‘ramifications’ of allowing” the “Innocence of Muslims” video to remain on the site,” according to New Republic’s Brian Beutler.

Ranking member Cummings released a statement saying, “This latest document leak makes the strongest case yet for Democrats seeking procedures to protect against these kinds of abuses. In what has become an irresponsible pattern, Chairman Issa unilaterally released a cherry-picked document excerpt –- claiming it means one thing when in fact it means the opposite -– and he disregarded the fact that his ‘new evidence’ was reported publicly two years ago.

“He did this without consulting Democrats, and it is unclear whether he even consulted Rep. Gowdy, who also sits on the Oversight Committee. These actions undermine the credibility of both the Oversight Committee and the new Select Committee, and Speaker Boehner should uphold his promise to end this circus.”

I fully expect the Democratic panel to show that the GOP wears no clothes on this one.

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