Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Wednesday promised the Select Committee on Benghazi that he chairs would continue to ask questions and hold more hearings next year, until all questions are answered about the 2012 attack in Libya that killed four Americans.
"I also pledge that we're going to keep asking questions until we have a complete understanding of what happened," Gowdy said at a Wednesday morning hearing. "And to that end, we will have hearings in January, in February, in March."
"And that means access to all the documents, and that means access to all the witnesses with knowledge," he said. "This committee will be the last best hope for answering the questions surrounding these attacks in Benghazi."
Gowdy's committee has so far held just two hearings, and got off to what many saw was a slow start this year. But Gowdy has said not all of his work would be done in hearings, and that some would be done more quietly in order to hear more accurate information.
For many Republicans, the Benghazi committee is about figuring out how the Obama administration failed to secure the U.S. consulate against a terrorist attack, and why the administration initially failed to call it a terrorist attack. Officials first said an anti-Muslim video caused a spontaneous protest, but later withdrew that explanation after a few weeks.
Gowdy noted that the one person the U.S. has charged so far is being charged with a terrorist act, and said that shows the administration has come along way from its first explanation for the attack.
"We should not move on until there is a complete understanding of that and why the official position of our government is so different today than it was in the days and the weeks after Benghazi," he said. "The facts haven't changed. The evidence hasn't changed. But the way our government characterizes Benghazi has changed a lot."
Gowdy's committee heard from two witnesses on Wednesday, including Gregory Starr, assistant secretary of State for diplomatic security. Starr said State has implemented 25 of 29 security recommendations made by the Benghazi Accountability Review Board, and said those recommendations have helped save lives in other U.S. posts throughout the world.
Among other things, he said officials are better trained, and upgrades have been made to various facilities to help boost security. He said the remaining four recommendations include more infrastructure improvements, including upgrades to security cameras.
The other witness was Steve Linick, inspector general for the State Department. Linick noted recent OIG reports that say State needs to do a better job understanding security needs at its various posts, and that in some cases, exceptions to security protocols are being made that could put people at risk.
In another example, he said a June review found that six private security contractors hired overseas had not been properly vetted by officials.