Setting up a special House committee to investigate Benghazi would do more harm than good, Rep. Darrell Issa indicated Wednesday in explaining his preference to continue with the joint inquiry divided between five committees.
The California Republican is chairman of Oversight and Government Reform, a key committee at the heart of the House GOP effort to uncover the facts behind the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Issa said he wouldn't block the creation of a special committee, for which many conservative activists have called, if his colleagues decided to move in that direction.
But Issa said the House Republicans' months-long investigation would stop and the new inquiry would effectively start from scratch. He said a special committee might lack the expertise brought to bear by the chairmen of the five committees and their staffs, who specialize in the issues relevant to the Benghazi investigation.
"The select committees immediately stop everything because they have to hire staff, they have to hire counsel, they have to find facilities, they have to cobble things together, and there needs to be an appropriation of money," Issa said. "If I'm proceeding forward, my view will always be, 'Let me keep going, you guys go think about that.' But don't stop what we're doing in the months it would take to stand up some alternate means.
"There is expertise in each of these committees," Issa continued. "We can leverage as much expertise in Judiciary or in Foreign Affairs as we need. ... A select committee would not likely have as many people who understand foreign affairs, diplomatic activities and so on, as [Foreign Affairs.] So if you were to have a special committee, it would have less total resources in that area."
In addition to Issa's panel, investigating committees include Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Judiciary. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., is sponsoring a resolution that would create a special committee. His bill had more than 130 cosponsors, all Republicans, at last count.
"There's always a next scandal," Issa said. "As soon as the next scandal comes, someone else is asking for a select committee; you can't have 10 select committees."