Pentagon to Benghazi panel: Back off

RUD TAKALA

The Pentagon is sick of a House panel’s demands regarding the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, and sent a letter to the committee Thursday night calling on them to do a better job with their urgent requests for interviews.

“The department has spent millions of dollars on Benghazi-specific congressional compliance, including reviews by four other committees, which have diligently reviewed the military’s response in particular,” Stephen Hedger, the department’s assistant secretary of Defense for legislative affairs, wrote in a Thursday letter addressed to the Select Committee on Benghazi.

“The department is working diligently to accommodate your staff’s multiple and changing requests,” Hedger said. “[H]owever, we are concerned by the continuous threats from your staff to subpoena witnesses because we are not able to move quickly enough to accommodate these new requests.”

The letter was released by committee Democrats, who have charged that the investigation into the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on American facilities in Libya is aimed at impugning former secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Republicans have suggested they hope to finalize their report on the issue by mid-summer, revealing what the State Department knew about the issue and whether officials responded appropriately.

“The number and continued pace of these requests since February 2016 are in tension with your staff’s statements that the committee expects to finish its investigation in the near term,” Hedger wrote. “Perhaps because of this conflict, the committee’s requests are accompanied by unrealistic timelines for the department to identify the correct service members (who are often only identified by positions), locate them if deployed or retired, and schedule interviews, which in some cases require them to return from overseas.”

The letter concluded with a complaint that Pentagon officials were being asked to talk about issues they deemed speculation, and a request that the department be left out of it.

“DoD interviewees have been asked repeatedly to speculate or engage in discussing on the record hypotheticals posed by Committee Members and staff, regardless of the interviewee’s actual knowledge or expertise to provide appropriate analysis or insight … I would respectfully request that you ensure pending interviews remain focused on obtaining facts rather than encouraging speculation,” Hedger wrote.

310950319-Defense-Dept-letter-to-House-Select-Committee-on-Benghazi

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