WASHINGTON — The political spectacle over the Benghazi investigations has cost the Pentagons millions of dollars — and the tab shows no sign of ending soon.
All 17 Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday demanded that its chairman, Darrell Issa, R-Calif., finally pull the plug on his probe into the September 2012 attacks at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya which killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
The failure of U.S. security efforts has been subjected to at least six congressional investigations, plus numerous hearings and briefings.
U.S. Rep. Adam Smith of Bellevue, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, last month asked the Pentagon to estimate for the first time the cost of “ongoing, and fruitless, inquiries” over Benghazi.
Earlier this month, Elizabeth King, assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, responded that complying with repeated and sometimes-duplicative congressional records have cost it “thousands of man-hours” at estimated cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers.
Smith also wrote to Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, calling for an end to the “witch-hunt.”
Smith said the probes were a financial strain on the Pentagon. In February, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined a leaner 2015 budget which would shutter military bases, shrink the Army National Guard, raise co-pays and deductible for health coverage for troops and retirees and slash commissary subsidies.
In December 2012, the Accountability Review Board, led by former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Thomas Pickering, officially concluded the Benghazi mission had “grossly inadequate” security and suffered from “lack of proactive leadership” from senior State Department officials.
But that report, and at least two more from the Senate and the House, found no evidence for Issa’s assertions — which he has refused to renounce despite debunking by multiple fact checkers — that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally ordered security reductions and may have held back American forces from responding to the attacks.