WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday he is determined to answer any questions related to the deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, as the House Republican leader pushed for more information from the Obama administration.
One day after a lengthy House hearing on the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, Kerry said that anyone culpable of wrongdoing will be dealt with appropriately. He said he is withholding judgment on testimony in Congress suggesting that senior State Department officials were pressured or demoted for objecting to the administration’s initial and since-debunked explanations for the attacks.
After an independent Accountability Review Board found systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies in the State Department, four employees in the Near East Affairs and Diplomatic Security sections resigned or were reassigned.
Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died when insurgents attacked the facility in two night-time assaults several hours apart.
Top administration officials first said the attackers were spontaneous protesters, angry about an anti-Islamic video circulating on the Internet. The officials later acknowledged that the attackers were well-equipped terrorists acting under plans.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Thursday asked President Barack Obama to direct the State Department to release internal emails, sent the day after the Benghazi assault, that deal with the cause of the attacks.
Boehner said that Republican investigators learned that “a senior State Department official emailed her superiors to relay that she had told the Libyan ambassador the attack was conducted by Islamic terrorists.” Boehner said the State Department “would not allow our committees to keep copies of this email when it was reviewed.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., read from the email during Wednesday’s committee hearing.
State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Thursday that the department was following up directly with the House leadership.