Local congressman named to Benghazi committee

Local Congressman Jim Jordan will serve as one of seven Republicans on a committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, House Speaker John Boehner announced Friday.

Jordan, R-Urbana, is a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and has spent months investigating the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks at the consulate, that took the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others.

The attacks were initially billed as a spontaneous reaction to anti-Muslim videos posted online in the United States. Within days, however, it became clear that it was a terrorist attack.

“When considering the appointments for this committee – a committee that I expect to carry out an investigation worthy of the American lives lost in Benghazi, fellow Ohioan Jim Jordan was a natural choice,” Boehner said. “For years now, Jim has been unwavering in his resolve to hold the federal government accountable through his leadership on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He has proven that he’s as determined and persistent as they come.”

Two different House committees – the Intelligence committee and the committee on Oversight and Government Reform – have investigated the attacks. In announcing the creation of a select committee last week, Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., said he was attempting to streamline current investigations in hopes of getting to the truth faster.

Jordan and Boehner’s congressional districts border each other. Jordan represents Champaign, Shelby, Logan Auglaize and part of Mercer and other north central Ohio counties. Boehner represents part of Mercer County and all of Butler, Clark, Miami, Preble and Darke counties.

Jordan will join chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Reps. Susan Brooks, R-Ind.; Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas; Martha Roby, R-Ala.; Peter Roskam, R-Ill.; and Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., on the panel.

Democrats have five seats on the panel. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was weighing Friday whether to name any Democrats to the panel at all, or to boycott it completely. She and other Democrats argue that the committee is nothing more than a chance to fire political potshots at the President Barack Obama and his administration.

John Feehery, a former spokesman for former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said Democrats run the risk of not being in the loop or having any input if they boycott the panel. But if they participate, they risk giving the panel some legitimacy that “they don’t think is necessarily deserved.”

He said that the selection of Jordan was part of an attempt by Boehner to seek balance on the committee.

“I think he wants a combination of people who are firebrands - which would explain Jordan - and folks who are probably a little more even-tempered,” he said, saying that Boehner appears to have sought regional and gender balance as well as seeking members with a prosecutorial background like Brooks.

But Jim Manley, a former spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said he believes Democrats should boycott the panel.

“As far as I’m concerned no Democrat should participate in these hearings,” he said, saying it was an attempt to capitalize on the attacks in the leadup to the November 2014 elections.

During a panel discussion for the Heritage Foundation Thursday, Jordan said the new committee must answer three questions: what happened before the attacks, what happened during the attacks and what happened after the attacks.

Before the attacks, he said, more than 200 requests for additional security were denied. During the attacks, there was little effort to fight back. “Why weren’t we running to the sound of the guns?” he asked. And after, he said, he wants to know who started the narrative that it wasn’t a terrorist attacks.

“There’s unanswered questions,” he said. “The committees that have been looking at this have worked hard on it, but sometimes it’s just more effective and efficient to have one central place where you’re going to gather that information, answer those three questions and ultimately get to the truth.”

On Friday, Jordan thanked Boehner for the appointment to the panel and said “the focus of our efforts should be to get to the truth about the Administration’s actions before, during and after the attacks in Benghazi in which four Americans lost their lives. I am confident that with bipartisan cooperation under Trey Gowdy’s leadership, we can do just that.”

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