But on the first anniversary of the attack, there is not “anyone in custody who can tell us” specifics, including when, where and by whom the plot was hatched, and whether the Sept. 11 date was selected in advance or was a last-minute choice of opportunity, a counterterrorism official said.
“That is a huge gap,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation. “What we lack is a source of information that puts us where we need to be.”
Although the Benghazi attack has been overshadowed by political and foreign policy crises since hearings on the matter were held earlier this year, it remains a live issue for federal investigators and for House Republicans determined to prove that the Obama administration is covering up failures that occurred before, during and after the assault.
Throughout the summer, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has engaged in increasingly acrimonious exchanges with the State Department and the independent Accountability Review Board that it appointed to investigate. He issued two subpoenas for documents last month and, with the support of Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), plans to hold additional hearings this fall.
“What we’ve learned in a year is that stalling, delay and information that goes unchallenged is part of how you make it an old story to make it go away,” Issa said in an interview last week, adding that the administration “didn’t heed the warnings in advance, didn’t respond . . . or even try to” once the attack on the diplomatic facility and a nearby CIA annex began, and “made false statements” in its aftermath.
On Tuesday, Issa sent a letter to Secretary of State John F. Kerry complaining about the State Department’s unwillingness to facilitate testimony by two Diplomatic Security agents who were at the CIA facility in Benghazi during the attack, one of whom was severely wounded and remained hospitalized this summer.
Kerry is clearly irritated by GOP pummeling of what he considers an issue that already has been examined exhaustively. “I do not want to spend the next year coming up here talking about Benghazi,” he told a House committee in April. Last week, he snapped at a Republican lawmaker who interjected Benghazi accusations into a House briefing on Syria.
Democratic lawmakers have expressed equal exasperation. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the Oversight Committee’s ranking minority member, said Issa should concentrate on ensuring that recommendations to avoid such attacks are fully carried out “rather than trying to pick a needless partisan fight.”