WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 10: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) chairs a hearing on Capitol Hill on October 10, 2012 in Washington, DC. The hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee focused on the security situation in Benghazi leading up to the September 11 attack that resulted in the assassination of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens. (Credit: Getty Images)
In the spirit of transparency, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Friday released 166 pages of unclassified State Department communications regarding Libya. But hidden in the scores of documents were the unretracted names of several Libyans working with the U.S. government.
Obama administration officials say Issa's document dump has compromised several Libyans working with the U.S. and put their lives at risk, Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin reports.
Issa posted the sensitive State Department documents on the House Oversight Committee's website Friday afternoon as part of his investigation into the security errors and multiple inconsistencies in the Obama administration's evolving story relating to the deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. The attack left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead.
However, now the documents are getting attention for all the wrong reasons. Foreign Policy has more details:
Issa didn't bother to retract the names of Libyan civilians and local leaders mentioned in the cables, and just as with the WikiLeaks dump of State Department cables last year, the administration says that Issa has done damage to U.S. efforts to work with those Libyans and exposed them to physical danger from the very groups that had an interest in attacking the U.S. consulate.
"Much like WikiLeaks, when you dump a bunch of documents into the ether, there are a lot of unintended consequences," an administration official told The Cable Friday afternoon. "This does damage to the individuals because they are named, danger to security cooperation because these are militias and groups that we work with and that is now well known, and danger to the investigation, because these people could help us down the road."
One administration official accused Issa of doing harm to the investigation for the sake of creating negative news stories days before the final presidential debate, which will focus on foreign policy. In previous investigations, Issa has acknowledged and respected the need to protect information that could be important to completing the administration's own investigations, the official noted.
"He's trying to gather all the facts, but he's blurting out all the evidence before the State Department and FBI investigation is done," the official said.
Among the Libyans reportedly identified in the communications are a female human rights activist, a Benghazi port manager and a local militia commander.
House Oversight Committee spokesman Frederick Hill defended the document release, saying the State Department has not complained to them directly so far.
"Certainly there are people who made reckless decisions and put lives in danger in this situation and these people have motivations to discredit efforts to hold them accountable rather than having their true motivations be the security of people on the ground," Hill said.
To read Foreign Policy's entire report, click here.