By Thomas Ferraro
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday named the five members of her party who will serve on a special panel investigating the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
After weeks of deliberating over whether to participate in a Republican-led panel that Democrats predict will be partisan, Pelosi announced the members who will round out the committee. House Speaker John Boehner already has appointed the seven Republican members.
Referring to the special investigating committee, which will look into the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attack that has been probed by other House panels, Pelosi said, “It is not necessary to put the families (of those killed) or our country through this partisan exercise once again.”
In remarks to reporters, she said Democrats will participate “to try to bring some openness and transparency” to the panel’s work.
The following Democratic representatives will be members of the panel:
Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee; Adam Smith of Washington, the senior Democrat on House Armed Services; Adam Schiff, a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Linda Sanchez of California, an Ethics Committee member; and Tammy Duckworth, of Illinois, who serves on the Armed Services Committee and is an Iraq war veteran.
Pelosi also said that negotiations with Boehner on the operation of the special congressional panel had not produced any agreement.
Those discussions centered on whether Democratic members of the panel would have input on witnesses that would be subpoenaed and whether Democrats could participate in interviewing witnesses prior to hearings.
The attacks led to the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. House Republicans have launched multiple investigations into the Obama administration’s handling of embassy security in the run-up to the attack and the steps it took in the aftermath.
Democrats have accused Republicans of creating the panel for political purposes, including keeping the spotlight on Hillary Clinton, who was Obama’s secretary of state at the time of the Benghazi violence. Clinton, a Democrat, is weighing a 2016 run for president.
Boehner has insisted that the special committee will conduct a “serious, fact-based inquiry.”
The special committee will be chaired by Republican Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina.
(Editing by Susan Heavey and Nick Zieminski)