Lawmakers differ on congressional investigation into Libya

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said the congressional investigation is “turning into a witch hunt.” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said the congressional investigation is “turning into a witch hunt.” Gerald Herbert/AP file photo
As Congress continues its investigation into the terrorist attack that left four Americans dead in Libya, Democratic lawmakers are accusing the Republican majority in the House of playing politics.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said the congressional investigation that aims to find out how much the Obama administration knew following the attack is “turning into a witch hunt.”

“We will search the killers down and bring them to justice. The one thing we must not do, though, is … treat it like political football,” he said on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday. “We have a situation where we rushed to a hearing. We don't have substantial evidence yet.”

Cummings also accused Republicans on the Hill of scheduling the hearing to benefit their nominee for president, Mitt Romney.

“The way we're doing it, I think, is basically based on a campaign schedule, trying to give Romney some talking points,” he said. “But I don't think that our men who were killed deserve this. I don't think our diplomatic corps deserves this. We can do better.”

But Republicans argued that the administration's reaction following the attack in Libya is worthy of inquiry. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the administration is either “misleading or they’re incredibly incompetent,” adding that Libya has become President Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” moment, a reference to President George W. Bush's handling of Iraq.

“This whole region is about to explode. Al-Qaida is on the march,” he said on the same show. “The Middle East is falling apart, and they're trying to spin what happened in Libya, because the truth of the matter is, al-Qaida is alive and well and counter-attacking.”

During the vice presidential debate, one of the attacks that Vice President Joe Biden used against Rep. Paul Ryan was an item in the Republican’s budget proposal that Biden claimed would cut money for embassy security. “The congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for,” Biden said on Thursday.

However, in defending Ryan, House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said what happened in Libya was not an issue of money, but of security. He claimed that there is plenty of money in a discretionary fund for security. The State Department, he said, “didn't want the appearance of needing the security.”

“They are making a decision not to put security in because they don't want the presence of security,” he said on CBS, later adding, “The money was there, they chose not to have those security personnel on the ground in Libya.”
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