Clinton said that the State Department’s Accountability Review Board will begin work this week and the letter revealed the names of all five board members. In addition to former Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Pickering, who will lead the board, the other members will be former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen (ret.), Catherine Bertini, Hugh Turner, and Richard Shinnick.
Clinton asked Issa to withhold any final conclusions about the Benghazi attack until the review board finishes its work and reports to Congress, which could come as early as November or as late as early next year. She pledged to work with Issa’s committee and asked him to submit any requests for information or witnesses at hearings to the State Department’s Office of Legislative Affairs.
How’s the Accountability Review Board going to get to the bottom of what happened when the FBI still can’t get access to the crime scene? The news tonight from Reuters is that the State Department’s still negotiating with the Libyan government to get people in there, nearly three weeks after the attack. Even the locals can’t quite believe the foot-dragging:
Three weeks after the attack that killed four Americans in this city, the investigation of its causes remains in its initial stages, with just a handful of suspects detained, the crime scenes minimally secured and Walid Faraj waiting for a phone call from someone, anyone, asking him what he saw on the night he was injured while protecting the U.S. mission…
“Since that day, nobody has called, nobody cared,” said Faraj, 28, who lost a tooth in the attack and whose legs are peppered with small wounds from the firefight. “How is it the Americans didn’t anticipate anything?”
Witnesses are scattered across Benghazi, a port town where the uprising that toppled Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi began. But many witnesses say they haven’t heard from investigators.
The Washington Post is on the scene but Hillary Clinton’s crack investigative team is nowhere to be found. Between this and her letter to Issa, I’m wondering if the White House has finally transitioned from trying to cover up what happened with “spontaneous protest” nonsense to simply stonewalling the investigation until the election is safely past.
ABC has something new out tonight about Stevens warning a retired military officer in late August, just a few weeks before his death, not to travel to Libya because it was too dangerous with so many militias still running around. That’s the backdrop for the light security footprint that State imposed on him.
Update: Take three minutes to watch this important Fox News vid revealing how State did nothing — actually, less than nothing — when the Libyan contractors hired to protect the consulate complained to their British parent company that security at the building was substandard. State refused to intervene, and then, when an American firm was hired to provide additional security, State … shut it down. T-minus eight days and counting until those House hearings.
Update: Cover up.
Within hours of last month’s attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, President Barack Obama’s administration received about a dozen intelligence reports suggesting militants connected to al Qaeda were involved, three government sources said…
The stream of intelligence flowing into Washington within hours of the Benghazi attacks contained data from communications intercepts and U.S. informants, which were then fashioned into polished initial assessments for policymakers.
Officials familiar with them said they contained evidence that members of a militant faction, Ansar al-Sharia, as well as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, were involved in the assaults…
One official said initial reporting suggested militants had begun planning attacks on U.S. targets in Benghazi before Sept. 11, but may well have decided to use the protests as a pretext for moving forward that day.
Note well: Even the “initial reporting” pointed to a pre-planned attack with the protest just window dressing exploited by the jihadis. And yet they pushed the “spontaneous” line afterward for days. Question: If U.S. intel had a dozen or so bits of info pointing to terrorism within a few hours of the attack, why did the CIA circulate talking points for legislators pushing the “spontaneous” nonsense? That’s the next blank to be filled in. Exit quotation from Saxby Chambliss: “It seems increasingly clear that the briefings provided to Congress and the public about the Benghazi attack were at best incomplete and at worst misleading.”