While the world continues to play Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego with Edward Snowden, Congress continues its probe in another area of security and counterterrorism. House Oversight Chair Darrell Issa reprimanded Secretary of State John Kerry’s chief of staff for dragging his feet on requests to depose twelve more State Department officials, and issued subpoenas for four of them to testify before they had a chance to be “rehearsed or coached”:
House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Tuesday subpoenaed four State Department officials as part of his investigation into the administration’s response to the Benghazi mission attack.
In a sharply worded letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Issa wrote that State chief of staff David Wade has been uncooperative since being first approached in mid-May with the request to make 13 State Department personnel available for depositions. …
The newly deposed individuals are Eric Boswell, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s former assistant secretary and its former principal deputy assistant secretary; Scott Bultrowicz, the director of the Diplomatic Security Service; and Elizabeth Dibble and Elizabeth Jones, the former principal deputy assistant secretary and the acting assistant secretary at the Bureau Near Eastern Affairs, respectively.
Issa has already deposed the two co-authors of last year’s Accountability Review Board (ARB) investigation into the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
There may be eight more subpoenas coming, according to this letter. Only one of the 13 requested officials has been made available to Oversight for depositions, almost six weeks after Issa identified the baker’s dozen to State. Issa’s accusation of rehearsing or coaching witnesses didn’t come out of the blue, either (emphasis mine):
In fact, it is my understanding that interviews will not occur until the middle of July because the State Department is just now preparing documents and other materials for the witnesses to review. I respect the witnesses’ interest in preparing to answer the Committee’s questions; however, I am concerned that waiting weeks or months to while the Department prepares witnesses to be interviewed creates the risk that their testimony will have been rehearsed or coached. It does not require weeks of preparation to answer questions truthfully.
Two questions arise from this request. First, why are these witnesses only now familiarizing themselves with documents and materials relevant to the Benghazi attack and the security conditions that preceded it? This has been under investigation since it happened. The ARB conducted its entire investigation within three months of the attack. Shouldn’t they already be familiar with these materials, as the ARB should have asked about them a few months ago?
Also, what materials are they reviewing, anyway? Does Oversight have access to them? If so, then it should be no problem to make the materials available for reference in the deposition. If not, then Issa’s going to need a few more subpoenas to hand out at Foggy Bottom.