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Trio of Republican senators wants special panel on Benghazi

Published Nov. 15, 2012

WASHINGTON — Three Republican senators on Wednesday demanded the creation of a special panel to investigate the September attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz,. joined Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., in saying the standard congressional committees aren't up to the task of unraveling the complex series of diplomatic, military and intelligence missteps tied to the tragedy in Benghazi.

"While we await the findings and recommendations of the (Obama) administration's internal review, it's essential for the Congress to conduct its own independent assessment," McCain said at a news conference. "There is no credibility amongst most of us considering the administration and the numerous controversies and contradictions that have been involved in their handling of this issue."

Obama said his administration is working with Congress and conducting its own "full-blown investigation" into the consulate assault, which came on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"It is important for us to find out exactly what happened in Benghazi, and I'm happy to cooperate in any way Congress wants," Obama said at his first post-election news conference. "We have provided every bit of information that we have, and we will continue to provide information."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, rejected the need for a special panel and said her committee is adequate to probe the security lapses before and during the nighttime military-style raids on the consulate.

"We have spent a great deal of time on this," Feinstein told reporters. "We have arranged for three hearings on the intelligence aspects. We're the committee that should do it, we're the committee with responsibility for oversight and that has the authority to do it."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he didn't think a special committee is necessary.

"At this point, I think that the standing committees of the House, whether they be the (State Department) oversight committee or the intelligence committee, are working diligently on these issues," Boehner said.