State Department responds to Benghazi subpoena


Damage at the Benghazi, Libya U.S. consulate. Arwa Damon and team were there 3 days after the attack. Photos show smoke and fire damage emerging from windows, rubble and damage inside the building, blood smears in the bathroom, hand prints on the wall of Ambassador Chris Stevens’ bedroom.

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WASHINGTON, DC — The State Department responded to a congressional subpoena on Friday for information relating to the Obama administration’s response to the deadly terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, last year.

The agency sent the House Oversight Committee 97 pages of documents, but said many had already been shared with the panel chaired by California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa and released publicly.

“We will supplement this response if we identify additional responsive documents,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement disclosing that the agency had replied to the subpoena.

The Oversight panel has not been satisfied with explanations so far about how the Obama administration arrived at “talking points” initially drafted by the CIA that were developed to explain events around the attack last September 11 that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

A request from Congress prompted drafting of the “talking points.”

They have become a political flashpoint in a long-running battle between the administration and Republicans, who accuse it of not bolstering security before the attack, of botching the response to it and of misleading the public for political gain less than two months before the November election.

The GOP suggests the administration removed specific terror references and stuck to an explanation advanced by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in television appearances — later proved untrue — that the attack was the result of a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Muslim film that was produced in the United States.

The White House and its allies in Congress have said any confusion and conflicting information in the early hours and days after the assault stemmed from the “fog of war,” not any deliberate effort to mislead the public.

The Oversight subpoena sought documents and communications from 10 current and former State Department officials that refer or relate to the “talking points.”

Psaki said the State Department spent “countless additional hours re-reviewing” information and provided the panel with documents “that we have identified in searching for records up to the time of Ambassador Rice’s television appearance.”

She said the State Department since December has “demonstrated an unprecedented degree of cooperation with Congress” on the Benghazi issue by taking part in eight hearings and participating in 35 briefings for lawmakers and staff.

“We have accommodated previous requests for information from the House Oversight Committee by providing 25,000 pages of documents for their review,” she said.

By Jill Dougherty

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