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Democrats Join House Benghazi Panel They Opposed Forming

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- Democrats named five lawmakers to the U.S. House select committee investigating the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took the advice of senior lawmakers who said it would be better to have people in the room for hearings that Democrats have criticized as overtly political. Other Democratic lawmakers had favored boycotting them entirely.

“I believe we need someone in that room to simply defend the truth,” said Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He will be the ranking Democrat on the Benghazi panel, Pelosi said.

Other Democratic members named are Representatives Adam Smith of Washington state, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee; Adam Schiff and Linda Sanchez of California; and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

Congress started investigating the Benghazi attacks less than a month after they occurred on Sept. 11, 2012, calling attention to the Obama administration’s initial statement that the violence stemmed from “spontaneously inspired” demonstrations over an anti-Islamic video.

Officials later said attackers with links to terrorist groups stormed a diplomatic compound and set fire to it. That attack, and another one hours later at a CIA annex, killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

House Vote

The House voted 232-186 on May 8 to create a select committee to investigate the attacks and the White House response, which Republicans have called a cover-up.

Democrats have said the panel is politically driven, designed partly to damage Hillary Clinton, a potential presidential candidate in 2016 who was secretary of state at the time of the attacks.

Pelosi of California, who has said that past House inquiries didn’t give Democrats an adequate say in decisions, met yesterday for an hour with House Speaker John Boehner to discuss terms of participation in the panel.

Representative Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican and former prosecutor who will lead the committee, said in an interview yesterday that the seven Republican members will hold an organizational meeting this week.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Allen in Washington at jallen149@bloomberg.net; Derek Wallbank in Washington at dwallbank@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net Laurie Asseo, Michael Shepard

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