House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced Monday that he has appointed Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to head a select committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks.
“With four of our countrymen killed at the hands of terrorists, the American people want answers, accountability, and justice,” the speaker said in a statement. “Trey Gowdy is as dogged, focused and serious-minded as they come. His background as a federal prosecutor and his zeal for the truth make him the ideal person to lead this panel. I know he shares my commitment to get to the bottom of this tragedy and will not tolerate any stonewalling from the Obama administration.”
“I plan to ensure he and his committee have the strongest authority possible to root out all the facts. This is a big job, but Rep. Gowdy has the confidence of this conference, and I know his professionalism and grit will earn him the respect of the American people,” Boehner said.
Gowdy assumed office in 2011, shortly after the historic 2010 “red wave” midterm elections. He previously served as federal prosecutor.
“Twenty months after the Benghazi attacks, there remain unresolved questions about why the security was inadequate, our response during the siege itself, and our government’s interaction with the public after the attack,” Gowdy said in a statement Monday. “All of those lines of inquiry are legitimate and should be apolitical. Facts are neither red nor blue.”
“Four of our fellow citizens were murdered, and a facility emblematic and representative of our country was attacked and burned on the anniversary of 9-11,” the statement added. “Our fellow citizens are full well capable of processing the truth about the attacks and aftermath, and most assuredly entitled to hear it.”
News of the South Carolina congressman’s appointment comes shortly after the House speaker announced last week that he would form a special committee to investigate attacks that claimed the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
Boehner said in a statement that he decided to form the special committee “in response to the release of emails showing the White House was more involved in misleading the American people than previously known and the revelation that the Obama administration had withheld these documents from a Congressional subpoena.”
Newly declassified White House emails, which were obtained and released last week by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, reveal that top Obama administration officials coordinated in 2012 to portray the Benghazi attacks as being “rooted in [an] Internet video” and not “a broader failure of policy.”
The new emails, many of which were written by then-White House deputy strategic aommunications Adviser Ben Rhodes, have called into question the White House’s handling of the deadly 2012 attacks.
The “goal” going forward, one Rhodes email said, is “to underscore that these protests are rooted in [an] Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”
“[W]e’ve made our views on this video crystal clear. The United States government had nothing to do with it,” Rhodes added.
In response to the new trove of White House emails, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced last week that he had subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry to testify before Congress on the attacks.
The State Department’s “response to congressional investigation of Benghazi has shown a disturbing disregard for its legal obligations to Congress,” Issa said in a statement. “Compliance with a subpoena for documents is not a game. The State Dept has failed to meet its legal obligations.”
“I expect [Secretary Kerry] to identify docs the [department] is withholding, has delayed, or has simply avoided searching for,” the California Republican added.
Issa also praised Boehner’s decision to appoint Gowdy to chair the special committee.
“Speaker Boehner could not have chosen a Member more committed to getting the full truth about the before, during, and after of the Benghazi terrorist attacks than Congressman Trey Gowdy,” Issa said in a statement. “Trey has been an integral contributor to the Oversight Committee investigation and takes the knowledge we have gained, through subpoenas and individual testimony, to his new role leading the new Select Committee.”
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This post has been updated.