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Bonner Column: Special Committee Needed to Probe Benghazi Terror Attacks

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Last week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held hearings on the September 11, 2012, terror attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

For the last eight months, the committee, along with several others, has been probing the events surrounding the deadly attacks with limited results due to a lack of cooperation and a prevailing dismissive attitude from Obama administration officials. I believe a select committee with subpoena power must be convened in order to finally establish the facts of what the Obama administration knew at the time of the attacks and who made the decision not to deploy forces and why.

Over the months following the attacks, we have witnessed an evolution of positions from the administration over the nature and cause of the attacks, ranging from denial to partial admission, to arrogant protestations from outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of "What difference does it make?"

In December, the administration released an internal report on the Benghazi attacks acknowledging two facts already widely known: the attackers were terrorists, not merely angry protestors, and the Obama administration failed to provide adequate security for our ambassador and personnel in Benghazi. The report fell short of answering key questions, including: Who gave the order for special operations personnel to stand down -- preventing them from aiding our personnel under attack? And, what was the actual military capability and readiness level to respond to the consulate's requests for help?

The three State Department whistleblowers who testified last week also prompted questions about possible attempts to punish government employees who summoned the courage to challenge the official accounts of what happened in Benghazi and in Washington on September 11, 2012. It's long past time for America to get to the bottom of the Benghazi attacks.

I have joined with 139 of my House colleagues in calling for a bipartisan select congressional committee with subpoena power to investigate the attacks on our consulate. I have cosponsored legislation, H.Res.36, to establish such a committee which will have the authority to subpoena officials from the Defense Department, State Department, intelligence community, Justice Department and the White House in order to ascertain the full facts.

Americans deserve to know not only the truth of what happened on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi, but also the decisions of our top government officials before, during and after the deadly attacks that took the lives of our ambassador and three other Americans.

Giving Working Families Flexibility:

Last week, the House passed legislation sponsored by my colleague, Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, to allow private sector workers the choice of receiving either paid time off or comp time for overtime hours worked.

For nearly 30 years, government workers have been allowed to choose between taking paid time off and receiving comp time when they work overtime. However, private sector workers have not been afforded this flexibility to choose what best fits their individual circumstances.

Rep. Roby's Working Families Flexibility Act would extend the choice of comp time or paid time off to non-public sector employees. Under her legislation, all existing worker protections in current law would be preserved, including the 40-hour work week as well as how overtime compensation is accrued. Workers' choice of comp time would be voluntary and not compulsory.

Given the hectic demands on today's working families, it is an idea long overdue to extend the same overtime flexibility to private sector workers as government employees.

Honor Flight Nine:

More than 90 local World War II veterans boarded what has been described as the final Honor Flight South Alabama last Wednesday for a day trip to Washington, DC.

I was proud to join Senator Jeff Sessions, U.S. Rep. Martha Roby and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin of Daphne in personally welcoming our heroes to the National World War II Memorial and to thank them for their service.

These men and women of America's "Greatest Generation" inspired awe and prompted cheers upon their arrival among the stately columns of the majestic memorial. I'd like to note that students visiting Washington from St. Luke's in Mobile took time away from their tour schedule to greet our veterans. And, a special thanks to the man most responsible for the success of all nine South Alabama Honor Flights, Dr. Barry Booth.


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