The once-ballyhooed House Select Committee on Benghazi will hold its first public hearing next week, more than four months after it was created.
The House voted to create the panel in May, and after party leaders named members to the committee, it promptly disappeared from view. Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) has said it took time to hire staff, find office space and collect documents from the handful of other committees that had probed the terrorist attacks that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.
The hearing scheduled for Sept. 17 will examine the implementation of recommendations of the State Department's Accountability Review Board, according to an announcement Wednesday. The lawmakers will hear from three witnesses, including the former director of the Secret Service:
Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security
Mark J. Sullivan
Chairman, The Independent Panel on Best Practices
Former Director of the United States Secret Service
Member, The Independent Panel on Best Practices
Former Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
The committee has no set deadline to report back to the House. While Democrats were initially concerned Republicans would time the new investigation to generate anti-Obama headlines ahead of this year's midterm elections, the committee's slow start now has them worried that Gowdy will drag his feet long enough to cause trouble for Hillary Clinton during her expected run for president in 2016.
A former federal prosecutor, Gowdy is out to prove he's not merely a headline-hogging inquisitor. He's said that most of the committee's work will take place out of the spotlight and that public hearings – which in Congress tend to devolve into grandstanding spectacles – will be infrequent.
The first hearing comes as public attention has shifted decisively away from the events of two years ago and onto the new terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The debate over what happened at the U.S. consulate in 2012 was rekindled last week, however, with news that a new book will feature interviews with American commandoes who were told to stand down by an unidentified CIA station chief on the night of the attack.