Boehner demands release of State Department emails on Benghazi attack


Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) Jan. 18, 2012 on Capital Hill in Washington, D.C. Republicans are playing a dangerous game with the debt ceiling.


Alex Wong

US House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday demanded the release of State Department emails said to contain the administration's "talking points" on last year's attack on the US consulate in Libya's Benghazi, which claimed the lives of four Americans, including the US ambassador.

Boehner's comments came a day after lawmakers heard testimony from whistleblowers alarmed by the government's handling of the attack.

Republican lawmakers have been increasingly critical of the Obama administration's response to the violence in Benghazi, accusing the authorities of not acting on intelligence, with some even suggesting a cover-up. Democrats, meanwhile, charge Republicans with trying to use Benghazi to smear US President Barack Obama. 

Point being, Washington is obsessed – lawmakers have held a total of nine hearings on the affair, observed political satirist Jon Stewart.

At the most recent hearing on Wednesday, witnesses said the attack was not connected to protests over an anti-Islam video on YouTube that had outraged Muslim communities in the region, contradicting the White House's portrayal of events at the time. 

More from GlobalPost: Benghazi hearing: Diplomats call attack terrorism, dismissing YouTube narrative

Also Wednesday, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina read out part of one of the emails Boehner wants released. Gowdy said it was sent by Beth Jones, the acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department, the day after the attack on September 11, 2012.  According to him, the email stated

"I spoke to the Libyan ambassador and emphasized the importance of Libyan leaders continuing to make strong statements ... When he said his government suspected that former Gaddafi regime elements carried out the attacks I told him that the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists."

Boehner on Thursday questioned why the attack was framed otherwise, telling reporters he wanted to see the State Department's correspondence on the matter.

"I would call on the president to order the State Department to release this email so the American people can see it," Boehner told journalists, according to Reuters.

Also Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry promised to "leave no stone unturned" while investigating the incident, according to CNN

The lead witness at Wednesday's Republican-led House Oversight Committee hearing was Gregory Hicks, who was deputy chief of mission in Tripoli, Libya during the attack on September 11, 2012.

Asked how he felt when he heard US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice say the attack was connected to protests over the YouTube video, Hicks said he was "stunned."

“My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed,” he said.

Hicks later described the YouTube video as a "non-event in Libya." Read more about Wednesday's hearing here