Republicans are pushing back against a New York Times investigation that found no tie between al-Qaida and the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
After more than a year of explosive GOP oversight and intelligence hearings on Capitol Hill, Republicans have found themselves on the defensive in the wake of the new findings that the attack on the consulate, which killed four including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, was not the work of al-Qaida.
"These are terrorist groups some of them linked to or self-claimed to be al-Qaida linked," House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said during an appearance on Meet the Press Sunday. "There was a group there that was involved that is linked to al-Qaida."
The newspaper report also reignited the question of whether an offensive video, "Innocence of Muslims", might have spurred or exasperated the attack. The White House initially claimed the attack was a direct response to the video, a claim Republicans immediately discredited. The 13-minute film was written by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula
Issa and others stuck by their claim and argued they had seen no evidence showing the video was viewed widely enough to evoke such spontaneous outrage.
"Career professionals have said under oath there was no evidence of any kind of reaction to a video," Issa said. "This was a planned attack."
House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said that based on his classified briefings, the Times' published investigation was "just not accurate."
When "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace asked Rogers where the Times got the story wrong, Rogers said that the 4,000 intelligence cables he has looked at show al-Qaida had a link to the attack.
"There was aspiration to conduct an attack by al-Qaida and their affiliates in Libya. We know that," Rogers said.
Rogers stopped just short of accusing the Times report of being politically motivated, a way to exonerate potential 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton from responsibility for security shortcomings in the region. Clinton was acting as Secretary of State when the attack occurred.
"I find the timing odd," Rogers said.