Benghazi panel to interview ex-CIA Director Petraeus

Matthew Daly
Associated Press

Washington — A House committee looking into the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, was bringing in former CIA Director David Petraeus for an interview Wednesday as the investigation enters its third calendar year — and a presidential election year.

Petraeus was the first of four former Obama administration officials scheduled to appear before the Republican-led committee in the next week. The committee will question former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Friday.

All four interviews were to be conducted behind closed doors.

The committee said it interviewed 64 witnesses last year, including 53 people who had never been interviewed by a congressional committee looking into the September 2012 attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The panel also has reviewed about 100,000 pages of documents.

The committee hoped to release a report “within the next few months,” said spokesman Matt Wolking.

“The American people and the families of the victims deserve to know the truth about what happened before, during and after the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks, and we must do everything we can to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future,” Wolking said.

The 12-member committee has spent more than $5 million since its creation in May 2014.

Democrats say the inquiry has gone on longer than the 9/11 Commission took to investigate the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s senior Democrat, called the Benghazi investigation “hyperpartisan and ineffective.”

Instead of following the bipartisan model set by the 9/11 Commission, Cummings said the House committee chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and other Republicans “continue to drag out this political charade closer to the 2016 presidential election, and the American taxpayers continue to pay the price.”

Cummings and other Democrats say the committee has long since lost its focus on Benghazi and become a vehicle for Republicans to attack Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner for president. Clinton was secretary of state during the Benghazi attacks.

Republicans say the committee has been hindered by stonewalling by the State Department and other executive branch agencies.

“While we are still waiting to receive crucial documents from the State Department and the CIA, and still waiting for important witnesses to be made available, the committee is diligently working to complete its thorough, fact-centered investigation,” Wolking said.