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News Wrap: Independent Panel to Investigate Libya Attack and Death of Ambassador

September 20, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
In other news Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will appoint an independent panel to investigate the circumstances of a recent attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Also, Pakistan aired ads featuring President Obama and Secretary Clinton in an effort to quell violent protests over an anti-Islam film.
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KWAME HOLMAN: An independent panel will investigate the attack in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. He died on Sept. 11, when gunmen assaulted the American Consulate in Benghazi.

Three other Americans also were killed in the attack. The assault came during protests against an anti-Islamic film made in the U.S. The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan put out ads today condemning that same film. The ads ran on Pakistani television and featured clips of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemning the film. Still, hundreds of demonstrators tried to reach the embassy in Islamabad by pushing aside huge shipping containers that cordoned off the area. Riot police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

A report on a bungled operation against gun-trafficking in Arizona drew praise today from House Republicans. They have been investigating Operation Fast and Furious for months. At a hearing, the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, listed a string of mistakes by federal law enforcement officials trying to track illegal guns. Hundreds of the weapons ended up with Mexican drug gangs.

INSPECTOR GENERAL MICHAEL HOROWITZ, Department of Justice: What we heard from the agents was they had made a conscious decision that the long-term effort — that having a long-term investigative strategy that dismantled a large organization was the greater good that they were undertaking, to dismantle the organization, stop the trafficking, and that that was what they believed was in the best interest of the public safety.

As we found, that was an incorrect calculation.

KWAME HOLMAN: Horowitz has referred 14 people for possible disciplinary action based on his findings. But he found no evidence Attorney General Eric Holder knew about the troubled operation.

Committee Chair Darrell Issa praised the overall report, but suggested Holder and other officials could have done more.

REP. DARRELL ISSA, R-Calif.: Nothing in this report vindicates anyone. If you touched, looked, could have touched, could have looked, could have asked for information that could have caused you to intervene, to complain, to worry, to talk to people, and you didn’t and you are in our government, or even if you aren’t in our government, but were aware of it, you fell short of your responsibility.

KWAME HOLMAN: House Republicans already have voted to find Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to release some internal documents related to Fast and Furious. Democrats have dismissed that effort as a partisan witch-hunt.

There was word today that Bank of America will cut 16,000 jobs by year’s end. The Wall Street Journal reported the cost-cutting plan was outlined in a document given to senior bank management. The cuts are part of an already announced effort to eliminate 30,000 positions. It will mean fewer Bank of America branches and a smaller mortgage unit.

The day’s other economic news mostly held Wall Street in check. First-time jobless claims dipped a bit last week, but they remained too high to suggest strong hiring. And manufacturing fell again in the Mid-Atlantic region. In response, the Dow Jones industrial average managed a gain of about 19 points to close near 13,597. The Nasdaq fell six points to close below 3,176.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.