Nearly a year to the day four Americans – U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods – were killed in an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa has demanded that the State Department comply with his request to interview survivors of the attacks and implied that the Committee may be forced to use the “compulsory process” if cooperation is not forthcoming.
In a letter to Secretary of State, John Kerry, Issa wrote, “The survivors of the attacks are the only people who can give testimony to the Committee about what happened on the ground in Benghazi. Details provided by the survivors will not only help the Committee determine what took place during the attack, but will also help the Committee and other interested parties determine ways to prevent future tragedies.”
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On August 23, 2013, the State Department informed the Committee that it was, “not prepared to support the request for transcribed interviews.”
According to CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson this afternoon on Twitter, Kerry is still not prepared to support the request and has informed Congress that he “will not honor the request to make Benghazi survivors available for questioning.” She also tweeted that “House oversight republicans say they may issue subpoenas if sec Kerry doesn’t change his mind.”
Issa’s letter, which can be read in full here, further states, “The State Department has further restricted the Committee’s access to these witnesses, claiming that they must be insulated from congressional investigators as they ‘would very likely be witnesses in any criminal proceedings relating to the Benghazi attacks’… The Department’s concerns about jeopardizing law enforcement efforts were not at issue during its own internal ARB investigation, and should not be an issue with the congressional investigation.”
“I must receive confirmation that the Department will make these witnesses available to Committee investigators by September 16, 2013,” the letter states. “Otherwise, I will have no alternative but to consider the use of compulsory process. “