WASHINGTON -- Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Sunday attacked Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, for releasing sensitive documents on Friday that included the names of Libyans working with the United States, calling it an inexcusable threat to their safety.
"This idea of Chairman Issa, that he's going to dump the names, in public, of Libyans who are risking their lives to support America and keep us safe, in an effort to get a political toe-hold in this election, is unconscionable," Durbin said on "Fox News Sunday." "It is unacceptable."
Issa and other Republicans have been highly critical of the Obama administration's handling of the attack last month on a United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which cost the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American staffers.
The Obama administration at first maintained that the attack had been spontaneous and related to protests over an anti-Muslim video, though the president called it an "act of terror" the following day. The administration has since backtracked and said it was a planned terrorist attack.
Issa is now holding an investigation into whether the White House mishandled the attacks, including by failing to grant the additional security Stevens requested in the days before he was killed.
In the process, though, Issa released documents that were "sensitive but unclassified" and included the names of Libyans helping the United States government. He did not redact their names, a move the administration criticized last week.
"Much like WikiLeaks, when you dump a bunch of documents into the ether, there are a lot of unintended consequences," an administration official told Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin on Friday.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was also critical of Issa's release of the documents, saying Saturday it was "irresponsible and inexcusable, and perhaps worst of all it was entirely avoidable."
Durbin said the document dump "shows the lengths many will do to to try to politicize this tragic situation."
He made the statement during a debate with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who praised Issa's move and called the administration's explanation "convoluted" and "distorted."
"Thank god for some Republican control of one branch of the government," he said. "If you left it up to this administration to inform the American people [they] would still be believing this was a spontaneous riot spurred by a video. There was no mob, there was no riot, so no. I am totally convinced this is going to go down in history as one of the most major breakdowns of national security in a very long time, it's Exhibit A of a failed national security strategy."
Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod echoed Durbin's remarks during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," saying Issa was jeopardizing the lives of Libyans who helped the United States, "carelessly, recklessly putting them at risk, all to score political points in the final weeks before an election."
"That's disgraceful," he said. "The way they've handled this issue is disgraceful."
This article was updated to include comments from David Axelrod.
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