GOP picks for Benghazi panel include vocal conservatives

 

McClatchy Washington Bureau

Among the Republicans named Friday by House Speaker John Boehner to the new Benghazi panel are some of the Obama administration’s most outspoken critics.

Democrats have not named anyone, and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday she wants assurances Democrats will have a strong voice on the committee. She wants to meet with Boehner, but no meetings are current scheduled.

Among the Boehner appointees to the committee, which will have seven Republicans and five Democrats, are Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas.

Pompeo last month grilled Michael Morell, former CIA deputy director, last month at a House Intelligence Committee hearing, pressing Morell on whether the committee had been misled.

"I think that in looking back at some of the things we could have done better, there is no doubt in my mind that we led people to think about this in not exactly the right way," Morell said.

Pompeo kept pressing, asking again "were we misled." "No," Morell said.

"My, my, my, I have a different view," Pompeo responded.

Among others, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., also serves on the intelligence committee. He spoke last year on CNN, questioning the administration’s explanation that the attacks were not planned, but part of a protest that became violent.

"I don't think there was any doubt that they knew it was a coordinated attack," the congressman said. He cited the "accuracy of the mortar fire that came."

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, another appointee, has long been known at the Capitol as a vocal, brash administration critic. After Obama gave his State of the Union address in January, Jordan combined Benghazi with other matters and blasted the president.

"Americans are reluctant to believe a new round of promises from a President and an administration that has not been forthcoming about issues ranging from job creation, to the unfair targeting of Americans by the IRS, to health care, to the tragic loss of life in Benghazi," Jordan said.

Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., who has been active in probing the military response to the incident, has also had questions about what happened in Benghazi. "No heroic military effort to respond to the Benghazi attack could overcome the White House’s clear lack of preparedness to protect Americans in a dangerous part of the world," she said last year.

Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., is a chief deputy whip and considered close to Boehner. Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., a freshman who Tuesday defeated a tea party-backed candidate in the Republican primary, is a former federal prosecutor.

Pelosi had pressed for an evenly divided committee; Republicans noted that ratios that reflect the overall makeup of Congress are common. Republicans control 232 House seats to Democrats’ 199, and committees are divided according to that ratio. An exception is the Ethics Committee, which is divided equally.

Special committees are often subject to the ratios. When Pelosi, then speaker, created a special panel to study energy independence and global warming in 2007, it had nine Democrats and six Republicans. As soon as Republicans got control of the House in 2011, they abolished the panel.

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