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Benghazi presents Obama with another headache

Critics accuse White House of being inconsistent about the attack on the US mission in Libya's second city.
Last modified: 3 Oct 2012 00:35
Barack Obama attended a ceremony for the return of the remains of four Americans killed in Benghazi [EPA]

What did the Obama administration know and when?

That's what the Republican led House Oversight Committee says it wants to know regarding the September 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

On Tuesday, the head of that Congressional Committee, Darrell Issa, sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ask why requests for more protection by the US Mission in Libya were denied.

Issa alleges in his letter that multiple US officials flagged at least 13 security threats over a period of six months prior to the attacks that the Obama administration says erupted in reaction to an anti-Muslim film released on the Internet.

'Concerns ignored'

The Committee states this information was provided by "individuals with direct knowledge of the events in Libya". The state department has repeatedly denied concerns were raised and ignored.

Still, critics of the Obama administration accuse it of being inconsistent with its accounts of what happened in the Benghazi attack.

Members of Congress have charged that the protests were not spontaneous as the Obama administration originally described, but in fact, were an organised attack.

Now, Congressman Issa is accusing the Obama White House of ignoring the violence he alleges had been escalating for months.

Indeed, the state department did issue a warning in August cautioning travellers to avoid Benghazi and Tripoli due to increased threats of assassinations and bombings.

Some US politicians are demanding answers, and it seems they may get some or - at least - will try.

On Wednesday, October 10, 2012, the Oversight Committee holds a hearing to determine if US officials in Libya did seek out security before the attack, and if those requests were ignored.

'Curious timing'

It is a legitimate question, given lives were lost, but Democrats on Capitol Hill say the timing of this hearing is curious.

Congress is not in session. Most or all members of Congress are currently away from Washington, campaigning in the lead up to the Presidential and Congressional election that will take place on November 6.

That means in order for this Oversight Committee hearing to be held, both Republican and Democrat Committee members will have to interrupt election campaigning to return to Capitol Hill. This almost never happens.

Adding to the unusual scheduling of this hearing, Republican Darrell Issa has long been a critic of President Obama's when it comes to national security.

Democrats are now charging that given the Republican led Committee's rush to schedule this hearing into what happened in Libya, it will likely to have little to do with a thorough security investigation, and a lot more to do with political point scoring in advance of Americans going to the polls in November.