WASHINGTON: The congressman leading the Republican investigation into last year’s terrorist attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on Friday ordered retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering to submit to questioning behind closed doors next week over an internal State Department review Pickering helped lead into the attacks.
The subpoena from Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is the latest chapter in an acrimonious battle between the Obama administration and Republicans over the attacks, with the Republicans claiming the White House tried to cover up the role of Islamist extremists to protect President Barack Obama’s re-election bid.
Pickering had told Issa in a letter that he would be happy to appear at a public session of Issa’s committee but would not submit to questioning in private beforehand. Issa instead ordered Pickering to appear for a private deposition May 23 but said that he would consider withdrawing the subpoena if the veteran diplomat agreed to voluntarily appear.
Four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, died in the attacks, which struck a U.S. diplomatic compound and, hours later, a CIA annex nearby. The attacks occurred on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.