Mon, Oct 19, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Gowdy denies Libya probe is anti-Clinton

AP, WASHINGTON

US Representative Trey Gowdy is a man under fierce pressure as he leads a US congressional investigation of the deadly 2012 attacks on US facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that is dismissed by Democrats as a partisan effort to target former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Gowdy, a Republican, is pressing ahead in an effort to ascertain the facts about the night of Sept. 11, 2012, when extremists hit two US facilities in Benghazi, Libya, and killed four Americans, including US Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Gowdy, the chairman of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Benghazi, on Thursday faces the star witness in the 17-month, Republican-led investigation that has already surpassed the 1970s-era Watergate probe in length. Clinton, is to testify in the highly anticipated open hearing on Capitol Hill.

Gowdy said in a recent interview that the hearing is to be “Benghazi-centric,” focusing on security before and during the attacks.

Some questions are likely on Clinton’s use of a private e-mail account and server for government business, but his approach might “shock you with fairness,” Gowdy said.

Clinton has said the use of a private server was a mistake.

Gowdy has cast himself as a fact-finder as he deals with Republicans eager to portray the attacks as a major security failure of US President Barack Obama’s administration and Democrats who call the inquiry a pointless partisan exercise that comes following seven other investigations into the attacks.

The panel has interviewed more than 50 witnesses— including seven eyewitnesses whom Gowdy said were never questioned by other congressional committees — and reviewed thousands of documents about security lapses, the military response and the administration’s initial, inaccurate accounts of why the attacks occurred.

House Speaker John Boehner, the driving force behind the creation of the committee in May last year, said he chose Gowdy because “he is one of the most professional, capable and respected members of Congress.”

Democrats said the US$4.5 million inquiry is a costly partisan hunt to destroy Clinton’s White House bid and complain that they have been frozen out of some of the committee interviews.

They point to the recent comments of two Republicans who suggested Clinton is the panel’s target.

Clinton called the panel an “arm of the Republican National Committee.”

“At this point, Trey Gowdy’s inquiry has zero credibility left,” Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon said.

Gowdy is on the defensive on another front, too.

A former Republican staffer recently said he was unlawfully fired in part because he sought a comprehensive probe into the attacks instead of focusing on Clinton.

Air Force Reserve Major Bradley Podliska also complained that the committee was engaged in social activities such as an informal wine club nicknamed “Wine Wednesdays.”

Gowdy said Podliska was fired for mishandling classified information and other mistakes.

Still, the chairman felt compelled to issue a statement saying his panel “is not focused on Secretary Clinton, and to the extent we have given any attention to Clinton, it is because she was secretary of state at all relevant times covered by this committee’s jurisdiction.”

US Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat, said Gowdy “is under immense pressure” from his party to deliver something after 17 months.

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