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  • Select Committee on Benghazi: Precedent Exists

    In the aftermath of the September 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, the Obama Administration announced efforts to investigate the facts behind the attack and the state of U.S. security at overseas diplomatic facilities.

    While the reports, undertaken by the State Department’s Accountability and Review Board (ARB) and inspector general, have yet to be released, an additional investigation by Congress via a select or special committee could shed light on many unanswered questions.

    In Congress, the House of Representatives and Senate have select, special, and joint committees that direct their attention to specific issues, conduct oversight, and investigate fraud, waste, and abuse of power (e.g., the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence). Joint committees are bicameral (e.g., the Joint Committee on Taxation). These committees were enacted by a congressional resolution and are permanent. However, select committees can also serve as temporary forums for investigating emerging issues that do not fall under existing standing committee jurisdictions or overlap jurisdictional boundaries.

    The most notable select committees include the Senate’s Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (also known as “the Watergate Committee”) and the joint Congressional Committee Investigating the Iran–Contra Affair. In 1973, in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a resolution introduced by the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D–MA) passed unanimously in the Senate to form a select committee to investigate President Richard Nixon’s participation in the break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices. In 1987, the House and Senate formed a joint select committee to investigate President Ronald Reagan’s involvement in the sale of arms to Iran.

    However, in neither case was there a loss of American life or a direct assault on U.S. security. A more relevant precedent for the establishment of a select committee is the 1946 Joint Congressional Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack. Following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the committee was established by a joint congressional resolution to investigate the facts and circumstances leading up to and following the attack. The committee’s final report further identifies its responsibility:

    To find lessons to avoid pitfalls in the future, to evolve constructive suggestions for the protection of our national security, and to determine whether there were failures in our own military and naval establishments which in any measure may have contributed to the extent and intensity of the disaster.

    This is not intended to equate the terrorist attack in Libya with the Japanese assault (considered an “act of war”) on Pearl Harbor; it is intended merely to demonstrate that there is precedent for Congress establishing a special committee to investigate a violation of U.S. territorial integrity.

    In the case of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Congress has held briefings, hearings, and floated countless letters between Administration officials and members. Yet, as Senator Lindsey Graham (R–SC) acknowledged last month, the risk of stove-piping emerges as conflicting accounts muddle the investigatory process.

    Because the Benghazi attack covers multiple congressional committee jurisdictions, the establishment of a joint select committee presents an opportunity for a proactive and coordinated approach by Congress.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Select Committee on Benghazi: Precedent Exists

    1. kevy99 says:

      Why hasn't a select committee been formed yet? This should have been done within a week of Susan Rice appearances when it was known full well she was lying.

    2. John says:

      Why wasn't nearby help sent as soon as possible? Or at least armed drones? Why did those men die?

    3. Greg says:

      Great idea. Another government committee. If we don't watch out, they will threaten to pass a resolution calling for and investigation into the reasons why there hasn't been a committee formed sooner.

      The press doesn't care, or at least when it comes to their guy. He could rape a butcher a bus full of nuns on live TV and it wouldn't even get mentioned.

      How many Americans died in Watergate? None, and that brought down a sitting president.

      How many Americans died in Monicagate? None, and that president was impeached.

      How many Americans died in Bengazi? Four inculding an embassador. And its not a big deal.

      How many Americans and Mexicans died from Fast and Furious? Hundreds, and nobdy cares.

    4. I knew Rice and Hillary Clinton were lying from the beginning. Am I better informed than the CIA, let me know, so I can get a job and pay for all my losses since Obama elected.

    5. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Wasn't a "select committee" formed for Fast & Furous? What did that get for the American people? A useless impeachment in the House of Holder. But is he still in office severing Obama. Yea, that did a lot of good. After the attack we knew without doubt any Benghazi investigation would end in the same way. No answers. Now today, the only interest is on the right. Those on the left, including the Obama supporting media, will not report on this matter which will end the matter, just like Fast & Furous.

    6. O2BMe says:

      The Obama administration is good at manipulating and hiding. They will stall and nothing will ever be done about the death of these Americans or about the deaths of our border guard and the hundreds of Mexican dead. For someone who won the Nobel Peace prize this seems ironic.

    7. 4-4Hero's says:

      Just another thing media will cover up for Obama. No doubt in my mind…Obama & Clinton knew what was taking place in Benghazi but chose to look the other way because of the up coming election. Just a continuation of his ineptness; however this time 4 courageous American's were slaughtered.

      Had there been four black faces in that death lineup there would have been rioting in the street, a march on DC and cries for impeachment –especially had the president been white.

      The media is complicit in this debachal of sweeping the facts under the carpet.

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