The Washington Post

Issa defends tying Benghazi to al-Qaeda

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. issued subpoenas earlier this year for State Department documents related to the widely debunked talking points about the cause of the deadly attack on U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Sunday defended his past assertion that the administration lied about the causes of the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, by failing to acknowledge that al Qaeda played a role.

"It was accurate," Issa said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "There was a group that was involved that claims an affiliation with al-Qaeda."

Issa and other critics had accused the administration of resisting labeling the raid as an al-Qaeda terrorist attack in order to protect the president during an election year. In an April letter to the president, he and the Republican chairmen of four other committees asked "why the administration decided to communicate to the American people that the attacks were a spontaneous demonstration inspired by a YouTube video, rather than explaining the likely al-Qa'ida affiliation of those responsible." But, in an investigation published this weekend, the New York Times reported that the 2012 attack was led by local anti-American militants and not al-Qaeda.

"It is not about al-Qaeda as the only terrorist organization," said Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and a leading critic of the administration's handling of the attack. "They went out on five stations and told the story that was at best a coverup for the CIA or, at worst, something that cast away this idea that there was a real terrorist operation in Benghazi," Issa said.

The Times also reported that the attack was "fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam," which Issa also disputed.

"Interviewing people in Benghazi after the fact, after the world has been told about this video, is really not in real time," Issa said Sunday. "We have seen no evidence that the video was widely seen in Benghazi, a very isolated area, or that it was a leading cause."

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Juliet Eilperin · December 29, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.