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State Department challenges GOP interim report on Benghazi attack

April 25, 2013 at 11:47 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, April 25 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department stood by its probe of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, against a House Republican report questioning its actions.

The progress report was assembled by members from committees on the Armed Services, Judiciary, Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Government Reform and is being distributed to House GOP members.

The Interim Benghazi Progress Report's conclusions call into question the fault of the State Department and conflicts with the State Department's internal investigation conducted by an Accountability Review Board, ABC News reported Thursday.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters Wednesday the department disputes the progress report's findings on the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other diplomatic staffers were killed.

"They are not consistent with what we believe in terms of our transparency and the work that we've done, so we don't agree with their conclusions," Ventrell said.

Among other things, the interim progress report claimed security requests for the consulate were sent to top officials within the State Department and were denied. The report found, but did not provide, a memo it said was signed by former Secretary Hillary Clinton in April 2012 denying a request for additional security, which contradicts Clinton's congressional testimony in January before she stepped down from her post.

The report also cited emails between senior State Department and White House officials report authors claimed showed that the motivation behind changing intelligence talking points after the attack was to protect the State Department's reputation, not protect classified information or the FBI investigation, as stated by the intelligence community and the State Department, ABC News said.

Ventrell said the State Department exhibited an "unprecedented level" of transparency and cooperation with Congress in its investigation.

"There's been eight hearings, there have been 20 briefings, and as ... the House Republicans noted in this report, there have been 25,000 pages of documentation which we've handed over to them in response to their requests," said Ventrell. "We've provided all this information and we've continued to be transparent."

House Democratic members sitting on the committees with the Republicans responsible for the report issued a letter criticizing the investigation process and called the findings partisan. No Democratic members were invited to participate.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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