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Issa Subpoenas Four as Battle Over Benghazi Escalates

The fight between Republican lawmakers and the State Department has escalated yet again. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa subpoenaed four influential State Department officials on Monday night as a part of his investigation into the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi last year.  Presumably, the maneuver will subject the officials to an under-oath ...

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The fight between Republican lawmakers and the State Department has escalated yet again. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa subpoenaed four influential State Department officials on Monday night as a part of his investigation into the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi last year. 

Presumably, the maneuver will subject the officials to an under-oath grilling by committee investigators on a range of details pertaining to last year's terrorist strike. In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Issa accused the State Department of "dragging its feet to slow down the Committee's investigations," and announced the subpoena of Eric Boswell, former assistant secretary of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security; Scott Bultrowicz, former principal deputy assistant secretary and director of the Diplomatic Security Service, Bureau of Diplomatic Security; Elizabeth Dibble, former principal deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs; and Beth Jones, acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

The officials all led bureaus that came under scrutiny by the Accountability Review Board (ARB), the investigative task force co-chaired by retired Amb. Thomas Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen. Their names have also surfaced in past hearings on Benghazi. However, in his letter, Issa made it clear he wasn't blaming them for failing to cooperate with his investigation.

The fight between Republican lawmakers and the State Department has escalated yet again. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa subpoenaed four influential State Department officials on Monday night as a part of his investigation into the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi last year. 

Presumably, the maneuver will subject the officials to an under-oath grilling by committee investigators on a range of details pertaining to last year’s terrorist strike. In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Issa accused the State Department of "dragging its feet to slow down the Committee’s investigations," and announced the subpoena of Eric Boswell, former assistant secretary of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security; Scott Bultrowicz, former principal deputy assistant secretary and director of the Diplomatic Security Service, Bureau of Diplomatic Security; Elizabeth Dibble, former principal deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs; and Beth Jones, acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

The officials all led bureaus that came under scrutiny by the Accountability Review Board (ARB), the investigative task force co-chaired by retired Amb. Thomas Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen. Their names have also surfaced in past hearings on Benghazi. However, in his letter, Issa made it clear he wasn’t blaming them for failing to cooperate with his investigation.

"By its very nature, a subpoena can carry the implication that the witness is being uncooperative," Issa wrote. "In this case, that is an unfortunate and misleading consequence since it is the Department, and not the individuals themselves, that appears to be dictating the timetable. "

The State Department did not immediately comment.

The growing number of Issa-directed subpoenas in recent weeks is a testament to the breakdown of relations between the Oversight Committee and the State Department in this investigation. In May, Issa briefly subpoenaed Pickering for resisting a closed door, transcribed interview with House investigators. Days later, Issa subpoenaed a net of communications from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top aides.

Issa maintains that the ARB failed to hold higher-level State Department officials accountable for security failures surrounding the attack. Pickering contends that his investigation was thorough and contained numerous substantive criticisms of Foggy Bottom. Both have agreed, in theory, to participating in another public hearing on Benghazi, but it has yet to be scheduled.

"The Committee has a bipartisan interest in holding a public hearing to examine the Accountability Review Board as soon as possible," Issa said. "Based on the interview schedule that my staff laid out in April, it was my expectation that we would have interviewed a half dozen witnesses at this point."

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