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Duckworth tapped by Pelosi for House Benghazi Committee

WASHINGTON — House Democrats decided to participate in the GOP-created Benghazi select investigation committee, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Wednesday naming Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., to the panel, throwing a spotlight on the fast-rising freshman and highlighting her military credentials.

Duckworth will serve on the same, potentially politically contentious panel along with Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., tapped by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, for the committee to keep an eye on the interests of Team Boehner.

For both ambitious Illinois lawmakers, the Benghazi assignment is a major step up.

The new House investigation is the latest in Congress of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Libya where four U.S. diplomats were killed.

Duckworth has been part of prior Benghazi probes as a member of the Armed Services Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

At a press conference with Pelosi on Wednesday in the Capitol, Duckworth took a swipe at colleagues with no military experience trying to second guess command decisions.

“I sat in a committee where the testimony of (Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) a man with over 30 years of military experience on whether or not there were capacities for military aircraft to make it to Benghazi in time was questioned by someone with no military experience, questioning his judgment as a military commander,” Duckworth said.

“So I’m proud to be on this committee, and I’m going to stand for the truth. I’m going to start from square one. I want to make sure that no American diplomat, no American life, no American service member is ever put in the same kind of jeopardy where we don’t have the resources there to protect them as they carry out this nation’s business around the world.”

Duckworth is close to President Barack Obama and served in his administration as a Veterans Administration assistant secretary. A wounded Iraq war vet, Duckworth is a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois National Guard.

Roskam, who served with Obama in the Illinois Senate, is a strong critic of the president.

The panel will have seven Republicans and five Democrats. The committee is expected to be working into 2015, so there are obvious political implications for the 2014 mid-terms and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she contemplates a 2016 presidential bid.

Pelosi and other House Democrats considered not participating in what they see as a GOP showboating exercise. But Pelosi ultimately decided to not boycott the probe “to be there to fight for a fair hearing and process, to try to bring some openness and transparency to what’s going on.”

The other Democratic members of the Select Committee on Benghaz are:

Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member, Committee on Oversight & Government Reform

Adam Smith (D-WA), Ranking Member, Armed Services Committee

Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), Committee on Appropriations (Subcommittee on State & Foreign Operations), Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Linda T. Sanchez (D-CA), Committee on Ways and Means (Subcommittee on Oversight)

My column on Roskam and the Benghazi Committee is HERE.