News / USA

Kerry Subpoened to Testify on Benghazi Attacks

FILE - An exterior view shows the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a day after it was attacked and set on fire September 11, 2012.
FILE - An exterior view shows the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a day after it was attacked and set on fire September 11, 2012.
Cindy Saine
The Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner, says the chamber will vote to create a new select committee to investigate the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans.  The announcement Friday came just hours after a House committee investigating the attack issued a subpoena to Secretary of State John Kerry to testify.

The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Republican Darrell Issa, has held four hearings on the 2012 attack in Benghazi that left the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans dead.  At a hearing Thursday, Issa rejected calls from Democratic lawmakers to end the Benghazi investigations.  

"The American people, more than anyone else in this body, have the absolute right to know why four men are dead in an attack that could have been prevented," said Issa.

On Friday, Issa issued a subpoena for Secretary of State John Kerry to appear before the House Oversight Committee to answer questions at a public hearing May 21.  Issa says he wants Kerry to explain why the State Department initially withheld emails that show White House official Ben Rhodes coordinated talking points for then-Ambassador Susan Rice to emphasize that the events at the Benghazi consulate were rooted in an Internet video and not a broader failure of policy.  The attacks came weeks before the November 2012 presidential election, and some Republicans say the Obama administration obstructed the truth about the attacks to protect the president's image.

Speaking for the State Department, Marie Harf pointed out that Issa issued a subpoena before even inviting Secretary Kerry to testify.  Kerry is on a trip to Africa.

"It's highly unusual for a subpoena to be issued before there is even an official invitation for testimony. I think everyone can make their own judgments about that. I'm not sure the secretary is even aware of the request, again, given his travel," said Harf.

American University professor Stephen Vladeck says congressional panels do have a constitutional right to conduct oversight:

"You know, as a matter of law there is no question Congress has the power to subpoena cabinet officials like Secretary Kerry.  As a matter of policy I think one can wonder if this is going to the well once or 16 times too often," said Vladeck.

Republican Speaker Boehner also announced Friday that the House will vote on creating a special committee to probe the Benghazi attack.  Such select committees in the past have held major investigations like the Watergate break-ins and wire-tapping under President Richard Nixon.

Professor Vladeck said he does not believe the probe will yield any important new information.

"It certainly smacks of politics in a way that suggests that the real focus of the investigation is on attempts  to discredit former [Secretary of State] Clinton and her staff.  I think if there was a "smoking gun" that really highlighted gross misconduct and gross negligence on the part of the Obama administration, we would have seen it by now," he said.

Hillary Clinton was secretary of state at the time of the attacks, and is considered the likely Democratic frontrunner if she decides to run for president in 2016.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid