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Cummings Renews Call on Speaker Boehner to Retract Partisan, Flawed Benghazi Report

Apr 26, 2013
Press Release
Washington Post Fact Checker Gives GOP Claims “Four Pinocchios”

Washington, DC—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statement renewing his call on House Speaker John Boehner to retract a highly partisan Republican staff report issued earlier this week that falsely suggested former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally signed an April 2012 cable regarding security in Benghazi and lied about it under oath:

“Speaker Boehner needs to immediately retract this erroneous report, remove it from his webpage, and apologize to Secretary Clinton for mischaracterizing a key document and making false allegations against her in the press.  It was incredibly reckless—or worse—if these public accusations were made knowing that the documents do not support them.”

Yesterday, Cummings sent a letter to Boehner revealing that the April 19, 2012, cable showcased in the Republican staff report as “bearing Secretary Hillary Clinton’s signature” in fact does not bear the former Secretary’s signature, but instead includes only her typed name at the bottom of the page, just as in thousands of other routine cables sent from State Department headquarters every year.

“Although a telephone call could have clarified this issue in a matter of moments, you chose not to check with the Department before making these highly inflammatory and erroneous accusations in a public forum,” Cummings wrote in his letter to Boehner.  “The allegations in your staff report are false, extremely irresponsible, and lack even a rudimentary understanding of how State Department cables are processed.”

Speaker Boehner has not responded to Cummings’ letter and has not addressed the GOP staff report in public since its major deficiencies were uncovered.

Today, the Washington Post Fact Checker awarded Four Pinocchios” to the false accusations in the GOP staff report that were highlighted by Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa on national television when promoting the faulty staff report:

“Issa has no basis or evidence to show that Clinton had anything to do with this cable—any more than she personally approved a cable on proper e-mail etiquette.  The odds are extremely long that Clinton ever saw or approved this memo, giving us confidence that his inflammatory and reckless language qualifies as a “whopper.”

In addition, Richard Shinnick, a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service and member of the Accountability Review Board that reviewed the Benghazi attack, stated: 

“Every single cable going out is signed ‘Clinton,’ it is the normal procedure.  Millions of cables come into the operation center every year, not thousands, millions.  And they are all addressed Hillary Clinton.  So you can make a story that Hillary saw a cable and didn’t act on it or sent a cable out; it’s all bullsh*t, it’s all total bullsh*t.  I can’t be any clearer than that.”

Issa has been criticized previously for the partisan nature of his investigation.  Ignoring requests to first hold a classified briefing for Committee Members, he rushed to hold an “emergency” hearing on October 10, 2012—just days before the Presidential debate on foreign policy—that quickly devolved into a “political food fight.”  He withheld documents from Democratic Committee Members, effectively excluded Democratic Committee Members from a delegation to Libya, and prevented access by Democratic Members to a key witness.

Issa also made public more than 100 pages of sensitive State Department communications two days before the Presidential debate on October 21, 2012, without redacting the names of local militia commanders and others and without checking with the State Department or other government agencies about the potential impact of his release on national security.  During a transcribed interview with one witness, the Chairman referred to the Department’s concerns about releasing sensitive information as “crap.”

Yesterday, Issa’s spokesman defended the erroneous GOP staff report, claiming again that Secretary Clinton “outright denied security” because her “signature” was on the April 19, 2012, cable.

113th Congress