The White House and the Obama campaign continue to criticize House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s decision to release 166 pages of “sensitive but unclassified” State Department cables related to Libya on Friday.
The criticism, which has since been offered by both Democrats and Republicans, comes largely because of Issa’s decision to not redact the names of Libyans working with the U.S. government. The cables, in part, relate to the September 11 attack in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and four others.
Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for President Obama, called Chairman Issa’s decision largely political on Morning Joe Monday.
“Darrell Issa dumped out all of those documents, and it occurred to me that dumping that out the Friday before a foreign policy debate was really all about politics,” she said.
Cutter also continued the Obama campaign’s attack on Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s decision to issue a statement in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack. She tied Issa’s decision back to Romney as well.
“The politics were set by Mitt Romney on the day of that tragedy when he came out and shot from the hip and before he had any facts, blamed the United States and blamed the president. He set the tone for his party,” she said. “He said ‘OK, go ahead and play politics with this.’ As a result, those documents that were released had important information, revealed names of Libyans that are on the ground that are helping us stay secure. We’re putting lives at risk because we’re playing politics, and we’re making the country less secure.”
Issa, a Republican congressman from California, released the cables on the committee’s Website and wrote a letter to the president on Friday with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah.
“The American people deserve nothing less than a full explanation from this administration about these events, including why the repeated warnings about a worsening security situation appear to have been ignored by this administration. Americans also deserve a complete explanation about your administration’s decision to accelerate a normalized presence in Libya at what now appears to be at the cost of endangering American lives,” Issa and Chaffetz wrote.
The Republican Party has been highly vocal of the administration’s handling of the Benghazi attack.
Tonight’s third and final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., will focus on foreign policy and the Benghazi attack is likely to come up.
Cutter said she expects the president to say the the administration will continue to investigate the attack.
“I think he’ll say this investigation is ongoing, and we are working it hard. We want to get to the bottom of what happened so that we can make sure it never happens again,” Cutter replied.