TOPEKA — U.S. Mike Pompeo has been chosen to serve on a House select committee that will investigate the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi.
Pompeo, R-Wichita, is one of seven Republican appointees named to the committee on Friday by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. It will be chaired by U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.
Democrats have five seats on the committee as well, but have dismissed the new committee as political theater and are reportedly undecided on whether to boycott it, according to the New York Times.
The Intelligence Committee, on which Pompeo sits, has already had several hearings on the issue.
“We’ve learned a fair amount. I think that’s absolutely true. But there are still many unanswered questions. We don’t precisely know what decisions were made in the run-up with respect to security,” Pompeo said in a phone call.
He said there are also questions about the conduct of military, intelligence and Obama administration officials on the night of the attacks and afterward.
“I understand there’ll be folks who say this is political theater. … My task that I’ve been given by the speaker and Chairman Gowdy is to focus like a laser on the facts.”
“And then the American people can make their own determination on these things,” he added.
Pompeo said he hopes that the Democrats will decide to participate on the committee.
“It just means the American people will have been done a disservice,” he said of the possibility of a boycott. He said he would be disappointed if the minority party does not join. “There’ll be fewer hands on deck. …We’ll have fewer people to help us unpack the facts.”
Pompeo disputed the notion that interest in Benghazi was aimed at making political gains in either 2014 midterm elections or the 2016 presidential election, for which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to be the Democratic front-runner.
He said that better understanding the security gaps at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi can help guide policy decisions in the future. He also said he wants to make sure that all decision-makers did everything possible to prevent the loss of life when the attacks began on Sept. 11, 2012.
“The core tenet of my military experience is that we don’t leave anyone on the battlefield and we do everything we can to go in and get someone. And I want to make sure that’s what happened that night,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo will be joined by U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks, R-Ind.; Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Martha Roby, R-Ala.; Peter Roskam, R-Ill.; and Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga.