Some Democrats have suggested their party not participate in the House select committee
looking into the Benghazi attacks, but one prominent Republican thinks that would be a mistake.
"I think this is a serious matter," former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Wednesday on Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto."
"I think they do their political party harm, and, indeed, the country harm, more importantly, by not participating, so I hope they will," Rumsfeld said.
If Democrats boycott, he said, the task of Chairman Trey Gowdy and the committee will be more difficult because they will have to see that "both sides of every issue is developed for it to be highly credible with the American people."
Democrats say the hearings are a political witch hunt intended to harm their party in November's midterm elections as well as a possible presidential run in 2016 by Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of State when the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya was attacked on Sept. 11, 2012.
They also point to intelligence failures by the George W. Bush administration, including the fact that the United States invaded Iraq on faulty information that the country had weapons of mass destruction.
Rumsfeld admitted there are times of intelligence failures, but said that in the case of the Iraq War, Democrats such as Sen. Jay Rockefeller saw the same intelligence as Bush and concluded there was an imminent threat.
Rumsfeld also stressed that the president, secretary of State and CIA director have tough jobs, and it is common to try to determine facts, then develop talking points based on those facts. But he is skeptical that's what happened after Benghazi.
"To the extent facts are ignored and the talking points reflect hope and a desire to be politically correct and to fit into a campaign structure, that's just not being straightforward with the American people," he said.
Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, died in the attacks, which were initially blamed by government officials on an anti-Muslim YouTube video. Republican critics have accused the administration of not wanting to admit the attacks were pre-planned acts of terrorism because it would have hurt President Barack Obama's re-election chances.
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