House Oversight: State Dept obstructed Benghazi probe

posted at 12:01 pm on September 16, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Just five days after the one-year anniversary of the attack on our consulate in Benghazi and the murder of a US ambassador and three other Americans, the House Oversight Committee has raised the stakes on the public debate over accountability for the collapse.  A new report from Oversight accuses the State Department of willfully obstructing the Congressional investigation into the attack and the actions of the Obama administration before, during, and after the sacking of the consulate.  As The Hill notes, the report also accuses the Accountability Review Board of obstruction and participating in a softball attempt to sweep the scandal under the proverbial rug:

The State Department willfully obstructed a congressional investigation of the deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi last year, according to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

State Department officials routinely refused requests for documents on its investigation into the September, 2012, attack, including interview transcripts and summaries of eyewitnesses to the attack, according to a committee report obtained by The Hill.

Additionally, members of the independent Accountability Review Board (ARB) tasked with reviewing the events that led up to the Benghazi attack were rife with “actual and perceived conflicts of interest” with State, the House report adds.

“The State Department’s refusal to turn over ARB documents has made an independent evaluation of the ARB’s review difficult,” according to the report.

To that end, ARB members failed to “record or transcribe the interviews it conducted” and refuses to hand over summaries of the interviews, it adds.

Oversight subpoenaed these materials to investigate the issue on its own, as Congress has both a right and a duty to do.  The State Department refused to intercede with the ARB, in part by arguing that the panel was independent of the State Department.  However, as the report notes, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commissioned the ARB as required by law, specifically “the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and
Antiterrorism Act of 1986 (the Act), which states that “in any case of serious injury, loss of life,
or significant destruction of property at, or related to, a United States Government mission
abroad . . . the Secretary of State shall convene an Accountability Review Board.” The Benghazi ARB was the nineteenth Accountability Review Board held since 1988.  While an ARB is supposed to be “thorough and independent,” according to the law, it still exists within the aegis of State, and a permanent ARB staff officer remains in State to serve as the “institutional memory” of the investigation.

State argues, however, that the ARB exists in the same kind of sphere as an Inspector General.  Oversight found itself less than impressed by that argument:

Furthermore, the State Department’s attempts to characterize the ARB as independent have proven to be inconsistent with the Department’s action in response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attacks. In refusing to produce ARB materials subpoenaed by the Committee, the State Department has sought to compare the ARB to “analogous investigative bodies such as Offices of Inspectors General.” If an Inspector General, however, encouraged agency leaders to prevent a witness from testifying before Congress because that witness’s testimony could reflect poorly on the Department, the Inspector General’s credibility would be greatly diminished. An ARB should be held to the same standard, if the State Department is to use the community of Inspectors General as a point of reference.

More to the point, though, why is State making excuses for not cooperating with Oversight?  If the Benghazi debacle was as straightforward as the White House claims, then these materials should have been turned over with alacrity.  Instead, State has dragged its heels or worse, while the ARB acts to protect State from investigation.  Meanwhile, even the few low-level staffers disciplined over the failure have returned to work with no explanation as to how accountability got served by the State Department’s internal investigation.

In a sadly-related note, TPM reports that State didn’t even bother to mark the anniversary with an official commemoration of the four Americans who died in the line of duty.  Instead, Foggy Bottom employees had to organize a memorial on their own:

Staffers at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. held their own private ceremony Wednesday to commemorate the first anniversary of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya after finding out the agency would not be organizing a formal, official memorial service.

The Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attack left four people dead, including the American Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and Sean Smith, an information management officer in the department’s foreign service.

A State Department staffer who worked with Stevens in Libya and asked not to be named told TPM there were about 20 to 25 staffers at the memorial. The informal gathering was put together after staffers inquired and learned the department would not be holding an official event to mark the anniversary.

Secretary of State John Kerry sent out a broadcast e-mail noting the anniversary, but that was the end of official recognition of the first anniversary of Benghazi.  This seems to still be the motto at State:


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“What difference does it make?”

Schadenfreude on September 16, 2013 at 12:03 PM

What a babe!

OmahaConservative on September 16, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Hillary has as much blood on her hands, and her big body, as does obama. Never forget.

1. Benghazi
2. Libya
3. Egypt
4. Syria

…the entire ‘Arab Spring’ bullchit, the ME and all the foreign policy…obama let her run with it. They both own it. Period.

Schadenfreude on September 16, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Yeah, ‘Oversight’ is just the word for all this.

TimBuk3 on September 16, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Name one nation, I triple dare any of you, which is free/freer, due to Hillary/obama.

Schadenfreude on September 16, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Unexpectedly…

workingclass artist on September 16, 2013 at 12:06 PM

What difference, at this point, does it make?

rrpjr on September 16, 2013 at 12:08 PM

When are charges going to be leveled?

DanMan on September 16, 2013 at 12:08 PM

No need for a memorial, they were just “bumps in the road” remember. State can’t allow itself to be distracted from more important things, like outsourcing our diplomatic and military policy to Russia.

Socratease on September 16, 2013 at 12:08 PM

More to the point, though, why is State making excuses for not cooperating with Oversight? If the Benghazi debacle was as straightforward as the White House claims, then these materials should have been turned over with alacrity. Instead, State has dragged its heels or worse, while the ARB acts to protect State from investigation. Meanwhile, even the few low-level staffers disciplined over the failure have returned to work with no explanation as to how accountability got served by the State Department’s internal investigation.

In a sadly-related note, TPM reports that State didn’t even bother to mark the anniversary with an official commemoration of the four Americans who died in the line of duty. Instead, Foggy Bottom employees had to organize a memorial on their own:

Nothing says “f-y” to about 65-80 percent of Americans like an Obama-Hillary coupling.

Lourdes on September 16, 2013 at 12:09 PM

“All of them, witches” comes to mind…

Lourdes on September 16, 2013 at 12:10 PM

“Just a bump in the road.”

Who honors anniversaries of just bumps in the road?? They’re just bumps.

Now, dancing on coffins while telling the most outrageous lies imaginable … State is all over that.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on September 16, 2013 at 12:11 PM

How’s the video maker doing? Yah know, even without facts it was his fault after all…

patman77 on September 16, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Socratease on September 16, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Beat me to it! I spent too much time reworking my wording …

Good job.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on September 16, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Is Hillary still running..?

d1carter on September 16, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Who will be going to jail..?

d1carter on September 16, 2013 at 12:12 PM

There was some bad stuff going on in Benghazi…someone did not want anyone to know. Who could it be..?

d1carter on September 16, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Please, God, do not allow this woman to become our President! If she does, she will simply finish the job that Obama has started! It will be the end of this country.

NavyMustang on September 16, 2013 at 12:14 PM

“Charles Woods, Father of Navy SEAL Who Died at Benghazi, Says ‘Obama Let His Son Die’…”

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2013/09/charles-woods-father-of-navy-seal-who-died-at-benghazi-says-obama-let-his-son-die/

workingclass artist on September 16, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Someone needs to go to jail Ben.

neyney on September 16, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Nice

Schadenfreude on September 16, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Hillary has as much blood on her hands, and her big body, as does obama. Never forget.

1. Benghazi
2. Libya
3. Egypt
4. Syria

…the entire ‘Arab Spring’ bullchit, the ME and all the foreign policy…obama let her run with it. They both own it. Period.

Schadenfreude on September 16, 2013 at 12:04 PM

You forgot Vince Foster and the others who died at politically convenient times for the Clintons. Not casting any accusations just saying that the Clintons have lucked out more than once by sudden death.

Happy Nomad on September 16, 2013 at 12:17 PM

What a babe!

OmahaConservative on September 16, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Huffing paint remover is no way to go through life, son.

CurtZHP on September 16, 2013 at 12:22 PM

State didn’t even bother to mark the anniversary with an official commemoration of the four Americans who died in the line of duty. Instead, Foggy Bottom employees had to organize a memorial on their own:

Benghazi happened a long time ago.

Happy Nomad on September 16, 2013 at 12:24 PM

OK – the State Department obstructed the investigation into Benghazi.

Memo to the Oversight Committee, Chairman Issa, and the GOP House Leadership –

What the **** are you going to do about it?

Lois Lerner is still on a taxpayer funded vacation despite increasing evidence that she and the IRS Chief Counsel abused their positions to target TP organizations for political purposes.

Eric Holder is still sitting under a Contempt of Congress charge for his non-compliance and perjury related to Fast and Furious.

John Clapper committed perjury while under oath before House hearings, and what has been done?

The State Department, DoD, and WH have lied and stonewalled for over a year about Benghazi, and what has been done?

HHS is using Obamacare to launch unprecedented invasions of privacy regarding the health records of Americans, and what has been done to protect the public?

CFPB is launching unprecedented data-mining invasions of American financial and credit transactions, building political databases, and what is the House doing to protect us?

It’s past time to start taking these issues to the next level and growing a pair to actually punish those who abuse their power. Until then, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Athos on September 16, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Kerry sent out a broadcast e-mail noting the anniversary, but that was the end of official recognition of the first anniversary of Benghazi.

Kerry : “We Got A Lot More Important Things To Move On To”

lynncgb on September 16, 2013 at 12:26 PM

the report also accuses the Accountability Review Board of obstruction and participating in a softball attempt to sweep the scandal under the proverbial rug:

By allowing testimony of the group not individually.
Apparently when it involves this administration, Best Practices are to be ignored. Any reputable interviewer, investigator, or interrogator would first separate the persons of interest so as to be able to find discrepancies in their testimonies. I don’t think there has been a level of corruption this insidious since, well since there is no metric to measure this treachery by.

fourdeucer on September 16, 2013 at 12:27 PM

How much worse could the parents of these men, be made to feel? I have so much contempt for this administration and the media that covers up their crimes. I’m going to link this article to my Facebook page and ask everyone I know to share it as well. The State Dept. needs to be humiliated for this.

BettyRuth on September 16, 2013 at 12:28 PM

“The State Department willfully obstructed a congressional investigation …”

Stop right there!
I gotta know right now!
Before we go any further!

Who is going to jail?

Tsar of Earth on September 16, 2013 at 12:30 PM

She should have at least come out to pledge to keep Youtube guy in her dungeon indefinitely no matter what.

forest on September 16, 2013 at 12:30 PM

No question in my mind that if O-Loser, Shrillary and Ketchup Boy had their way, this country would never hold another memorial for 9-11-2001 either.

GrannyDee on September 16, 2013 at 12:34 PM

OT, or not – the azzhole is feeding on carrion, again.

Schadenfreude on September 16, 2013 at 12:36 PM

This is pretty damn concerning.

So anyway, did you guys catch the X-Factor last night? Wow can that one girl with the frizzy hair sing or what? Yeah?

Bishop on September 16, 2013 at 12:37 PM

The Benghazi ARB first met in early October 2012. A principal source of information for the ARB was a series of interviews with key individuals, sometimes in a group setting, but more often individually.20 Interviews Admiral Mullen described as “substantive” in nature lasted between two to four hours, while other interviews lasted about an hour.21 While all ARB members were present for most interviews, this was not universally the case.22 The ARB did not transcribe its interviews; rather reports indicate that ARB staff members took handwritten notes.23 The State Department represented to the Committee that the ARB had access to approximately 7,000 documents numbering thousands of pages.24 Ultimately, the unclassified report delivered to Congress on December 18, 2012 contained five findings and 24 recommendations.25

Page 15

fourdeucer on September 16, 2013 at 12:40 PM

No clear thinking American can be surprised at this revelation. It was obvious from day 1. Blaming a video?

rjoco1 on September 16, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Will this news only be important enough for members of Congress to speak about it on cable news, or will this rise to the level of a strongly worded letter? I believe those are the only two choices, right?

Shump on September 16, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Hillary has as much blood on her hands, and her big body, as does obama. Never forget.
1. Benghazi
2. Libya
3. Egypt
4. Syria
…the entire ‘Arab Spring’ bullchit, the ME and all the foreign policy…obama let her run with it. They both own it. Period.
Schadenfreude on September 16, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Add to these Waco TX. Under Bill Clinton With strong if not total input from Hillary. This was a use of Chemical weapons on US Citizens on US Soil that killed 73 Men, Womean and Children. “No fault found every one got promoted”.

Ya! right continue the dynasty for another 8 bloody years. Over my dead body. The time has come we can no longer tolerate the lies, and miss directions from our government. They spy on us with out warrent and classifiy the information not for the purpose of National Security but for the purpose to protect their wroungful actions. We have given them sufficient time to act in an acountable manner and they have not.

We suffer, lose our homes and yet plan to raise the price of milk to $38.00/gal. “To teach the Republicans a leson”. All the time they take thier Million dollar a day vacations “because it is our resposibility to let them do so” , and M. Obama said “let them drink water”.

jpcpt03 on September 16, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Most honest, most open, most transparent administration, evah!

YOU BETCHA!

GarandFan on September 16, 2013 at 12:55 PM

two words:

CRIMINAL

PROSECUTION

TX-96 on September 16, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Will this news only be important enough for members of Congress to speak about it on cable news, or will this rise to the level of a strongly worded letter? I believe those are the only two choices, right?

Shump on September 16, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Perfect.

We take umbrage to all the hysterical over reaction by different Dem caucuses and the DNC to any republican misstep. But the DNC does it right. Our side has nothing. We are as limp as can be. The Dems fight and stand up for their “beliefs”(scams).

Every Gdamned R politico publicly agrees that Benghazi is a scandal but not one of them is risking his/her useless career to bring the traitors to justice. Same with the IRS , NSA and all the rest. I’ve given up on them and I’m the type of fool who has made calls and worked booths at state fairs.

BoxHead1 on September 16, 2013 at 1:09 PM

State Department obstruction? When has that ever happened?
Hmm, lets see…does the name McCarthy ring a bell?

flawedskull on September 16, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Allow me to add Schadenfreude at 12:04PM
1. Benghazi
2. Libya
3. Egypt
4. Syria

5.Vince Foster
AND
6. Jim McDougal (Clinton partner in the Whitewater & other swindles) died in prison with a controllable heart condition that was not medicated because Killery wanted him DEAD.

Missilengr on September 16, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Thanks, The House Oversight Committee stating the obvious.

There were jobs to protect. Especially Hillary’s.

TerryW on September 16, 2013 at 3:04 PM

“The State Department willfully obstructed a congressional investigation …”

So…?

… Didn’t you see that picture of the Rodeo Clown!!!

(vapors)

Seven Percent Solution on September 16, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Act of corruption under a corrupt politician? What a surprise..

RdLake on September 16, 2013 at 5:48 PM

My wish is that Hill will be present at the next attack upon an embassy, with the same outcomes as Benghazi.

My response will be, “What difference does it make?”

avagreen on September 17, 2013 at 11:58 AM