By Julian Hattem – 12/10/15 08:53 AM EST
Republicans and Democrats are sparring over a newly released email that Democrats say disproves a conservative myth about the 2012 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
On Wednesday, Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi released an unredacted email showing that the Defense Department had identified military forces to send to Benghazi to assist American officials under attack.Republicans quickly fired back, however, accusing the minority party of trying to undermine their investigation for political reasons.
The Democrats released their email a day after conservative legal group Judicial Watch released a slightly redacted version, which it had won access to under the Freedom of Information Act. At the time, conservative outlets such as Fox News said that the email was a “smoking gun” that undermined testimony from former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
But the unredacted version of the email makes clear that the forces under discussion to move to Benghazi were the same ones that previous investigations had claimed were on the move: a Marine Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams (FAST) and a special operations force out of Croatia.
“This email is yet another example of how conservative conspiracy theorists use bits of information out of context to rehash baseless allegations that have been debunked time and again,” a Democratic committee spokesman said.
Late in the day, Republicans fired back.
The decision to release the email “is further proof that Democrats are focused solely on playing politics and protecting Hillary Clinton,” committee spokesman Matt Wolking said, “not on conducting a serious investigation and getting the truth for the families of the four Americans who lost their lives.”
The committee has long been the focus of partisan divide and has been repeatedly accused of being established to tear down Clinton’s political career. Despite recent speculation that Democrats would abandon the effort after Clinton’s marathon testimony in October, they have decided to remain onboard.