Roby appointed to panel to investigate Benghazi
Rep. Martha Roby was appointed Friday to a select committee that will investigate the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Roby, in her second term representing Montgomery and southeastern Alabama, is one of seven Republicans chosen by House Speaker John Boehner. Democrats will have five seats, but Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., remained undecided Friday on whether they will participate.
Roby's high-profile assignment will put her on a national stage throughout the investigation, which could last the rest of the year and become a political flashpoint in the 2014 elections.
Republicans say there are unanswered questions regarding security lapses, the military's response to the attacks and the initial suggestion from the White House that the attacks resulted from a spontaneous protest rather than from a coordinated plan by terrorists.
On Friday, Roby described the select committee's work as a nonpolitical fact-finding mission.
"You gather your witnesses, you depose them under oath and you present the evidence you found," she said. "We want facts, not opinions, to get to truly what happened and do it in a setting that would allow for that to come out."
House Republicans, who already have held four committee investigations of the attacks, changed strategy and decided to create the select committee after a Freedom of Information Act request turned up documents that had not been provided to Congress.
The House voted Thursday, mostly along party lines, to create the select committee.
Roby is not new to the Benghazi issue. She chaired the House Armed Services subcommittee that investigated the military's response to the attacks, which killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
That subcommittee report, released in February, concluded Obama administration officials should have anticipated the terrorist threat in the region. It also said the White House overstated its security preparations around the globe before the incident, which took place on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Roby's subcommittee largely absolved the military of blame, saying the Pentagon did everything it could with the resources available. It also found that no order was issued telling U.S. forces not to respond to the attacks.
"We did a very thorough job, but we did leave the door open when we said this was an interim report and that if information surfaced that there were others we needed to talk to, we would," Roby said.
Roby said she hopes Democrats will participate in the select committee.
"Facts are not Republican or Democrat. They are stubbornly impartial," Roby said. "I think the Democrats would be doing a disservice to not have a seat at the table."
Democrats participated in the Armed Services subcommittee investigation, which involved mostly classified briefings, but refused to endorse the final report. During the probe, however, some Democrats commended Roby for keeping the inquiry less political than some other Benghazi investigations.
The new select committee, chaired by GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, is consolidating Roby's report with the work of three other House panels that have investigated Benghazi: the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Intelligence Committee, and the Foreign Affairs Committee.
"I expect this committee to carry out an investigation worthy of the American lives lost in Benghazi," Boehner said.
The other Republicans he appointed are Reps. Susan Brooks of Indiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, Peter Roskam of Illinois, and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.
House Democrats said the select committee is a political stunt that will recycle issues already explored in 13 previous congressional hearings and 50 briefings.
"We've been there, done this," Pelosi said Friday.
Roby and Gowdy arrived in Congress at the same time, in 2011. Gowdy is a frequent guest on a conservative talk radio show based in Montgomery in Roby's district.
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