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House leader to appoint Benghazi committee

WASHINGTON--The Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives declared Friday he would create a special committee to investigate the Benghazi attack, providing Republicans with a high-profile forum to target the Obama administration's credibility ahead of crucial November elections.

A long-term investigation by a special committee could also provide a vehicle for Republican attacks on former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton ahead of another potential presidential run in 2016. She was in office at the time of the attack.

Speaker John Boehner, the most powerful Republican in Congress, said U.S. officials misled the American people after the Sept. 11, 2012, assault on the U.S. diplomatic post in Libya that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. He said emails released this week showed the White House has withheld documents from congressional investigators and asked, “What else about Benghazi is the Obama administration still hiding from the American people?”

“Americans learned this week that the Obama administration is so intent on obstructing the truth about Benghazi that it is even willing to defy subpoenas issued by the standing committees of the people's House,” Boehner, said in a statement. “These revelations compel the House to take every possible action to ensure the American people have the truth about the terrorist attack on our consulate that killed four of our countrymen.”

Republicans have accused President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and his top aides of seeking to deceive the public about the true circumstances of a major, al-Qaida-linked terrorist attack during the final months of the 2012 presidential campaign — charges which the president and other U.S. officials reject.

Boehner could schedule a vote as early as next week, a senior Republican aide said, which is a formality given the Republicans' control of the House. Democrats controlling the Senate have shown no interest in launching a similar probe. Boehner has been under intense pressure from rank-and-file conservatives and outside groups for a year to make the move.

For Boehner, a special group, known as a select committee, raises the profile of one of the Republicans' main points of attack against Obama ahead of November's elections, which could swing the Senate to Republican control. Benghazi is a rallying cry for the conservative Republican base and will be critical for fundraising and getting voters to the polls in typically low-turnout contests in the middle of Obama's term in office.

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