Senate Democrats on Monday blocked a request from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to approve a resolution supporting the creation of a select committee to investigate Benghazi.
Cruz took to the Senate floor just days after the House approved its own select committee, and said the Senate needs to support a committee because the Obama administration has still failed to answer 10 key questions about the 2012 attack against the U.S. consulate. Cruz also said that while Democrats claim the Obama administration will not rest until the attackers are brought to justice, there has not been any apparent progress.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called for the Senate to support a Benghazi select committee, but was shot down by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on Monday. (AP Photo)
"Here we are eight months later," he said. "The perpetrators still have not been caught and the confusion about what occurred on September 11, 2012, in Benghazi has only gotten worse."
After listing out his unanswered questions, Cruz asked for unanimous consent that the Senate immediately pass the resolution. But Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) blocked it and said the request was politically motivated.
"This request is, in my view, without merit," Menendez said. "It's an effort to follow the footsteps of the unfortunate, politically motivated creation of just such a special committee by the House of Representatives just in time for mid-term elections."
Cruz disputed Menendez's claim that his request was political, and said Democrats opposed his request for a select committee on Benghazi 18 months ago, well before the 2014 mid-term elections.
Menendez then argued that some of Cruz's unanswered questions are political in nature, such as whether President Barack Obama slept the night of the attack that left four Americans dead. Menendez said a better question might be whether Obama was even told about the attack that night.
"I don't know," Menendez said. "The bottom line is… would that have saved anyone. I don't know that either."
Cruz pounced on that statement as an example of why a select committee is needed.
"The Democratic senator from New Jersey, the chairman of the Foreign Relations COmmittee, just told this body that he has no idea if President Obama was even told four Americans were under terrorist attack," Cruz said. "He doesn't know what if anything the President could have done to save them.
"I would suggest that's exactly the reason we need this committee."
Menendez said the Senate would be better served passing a bill to boost funding for embassy security. But when Cruz said he would support that bill if Menendez stopped blocking the Benghazi resolution, Menendez indicated that he would not make such a trade because the committee would be political in nature.
Below are Cruz's 10 questions that he said need to be answered by further investigation into the Benghazi attack, and the Obama administration's handling of that attack:
1) Why was the State Department unwilling to provide the requested level of security to Benghazi in the summer of 2012?
2) Do President Obama's daily intelligence briefings in the run-up to September 11, 2012, support the assertion that there was no credible threat of a coordinated terrorist attack on Benghazi during the time? And do the daily intelligence briefings following that date support the claim the administration made that the cause was an Internet video? And why hasn't the White House declassified and released those briefings, just like President George W. Bush did with his pre-September 11, 2001 briefings?
3) Why did we not anticipate the need to have military assets at the ready in the region on the anniversary of September 11, of all days?
4) Did President Obama sleep the night of September 11, 2012? Did Secretary Clinton? Neither has answered that very simple question — were they awake or asleep while Americans were under fire? When was President Obama told about the murder of our Ambassador?
5) If the Secretary of Defense thought there was "no question that this was a coordinated attack," why did Ambassador Susan Rice, Secretary Clinton and President Obama all tell the American people that the cause was a spontaneous demonstration about an Internet video?
6) Why did former deputy CIA Director Mike Morrell edit the intelligence community talking points to delete the references to Islamic extremists and Al Qaeda?
7) Why did the FBI not release pictures of the militants taken the day of the attack until eight months after the fact? Why not immediately, as proved so effective in the Boston bombing?
8) Why was Secretary Clinton not interviewed for the A.R.B. [Accountability Review Board] report? And if all the relevant questions were answered in the A.R.B. report… why did the State Department's own Inspector General office open a probe into the methods of that very report?
9) Why have none of the terrorists who attacked in Benghazi been captured or killed?
10) What additional evidence that the White House engaged in a partisan political campaign to blame the Benghazi attack on the Internet video is contained in the additional emails requested by Judicial Watch but withheld by the White House on the grounds that it would put a "chill on internal deliberations?"