After an extended period of quiet , the special committee for investigating the attacks in Benghazi may be readying for action.
Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. announced Friday he has hired a retired three-star general to lead the panel's legal team.
Lt. Gen. Dana K. Chipman was the senior military lawyer for the Army for four years as judge advocate general at the Pentagon, Gowdy's office said. He retired last November after 33 years on active duty.
Gowdy lauded his new chief counsel as someone with character and integrity, along with solid legal credentials, saying Chipman has "dedicated his professional life to the apolitical service to our country and reached the highest levels of his profession."
Gowdy added in a statement, "If you are serious about conducting a fair, thorough, fact-centric investigation devoid of gratuitous partisanship, it stands to reason you would select someone with those same characteristics to lead the investigation."
Chipman testified on the issue of sexual assault in the military before the Senate Armed Services Committee in June 2013.
The Air Force Times first reported the hire, and noted that ranking Democrat Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland will hire his own staff for the minority side. Cummings' office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Republicans formed the committee to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, earlier this year, but have little to show for the effort. Democrats considered protesting what they called a political sideshow given the number of investigations already conducted, but ultimately named five panel members.
As CQ Roll Call reported in July , only about half of the expected 30 hires had been made because of security clearance backlogs. Republicans provided $3.3 million for the 12-member Benghazi committee to spend by the end of the year, more than the budgets of at least two House standing committees. The panel can keep working in 2015 with a renewed budget.
The committee plans to hold a first public hearing in September.
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