Video: Pickering tells Attkisson ARB was no whitewash

posted at 12:01 pm on September 20, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The co-chair of the Accountability Review Board wants to assure CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson that the report on the Benghazi attack was not a whitewash for Hillary Clinton.  However, Thomas Pickering didn’t bother to interview the former Secretary of State about the systemic security failures surrounding the attack on the consulate.  Oh, and his co-chair Admiral Mike Mullen also took some time out to advise Clinton on her testimony to Congress — while he was pursuing .

But hey, other than that, the ARB was totally independent. Right? Riiiiiiiiiiiiight:

Allahpundit mentioned Stephen Hayes’ Twitter take on yesterday’s grilling of Pickering and Mullen by the House Oversight Committee, and Hayes has a more formal analysis today for the Weekly Standard.  The hearing was an utter debacle for the ARB’s credibility, Hayes concludes:

Among the revelations:

*Secretary of State Hillary Clinton handpicked the two leaders of the ARB who were given the job of investigating her department.

*Cheryl Mills, the chief of staff and senior counselor to Secretary Clinton, was intimately involved with the ARB panel from the beginning. She called the leaders at Clinton’s behest to ask them to serve, she was briefed regularly on the investigation as it unfolded and she received a draft copy of the report before it was finalized.

*Several senior Clinton advisers were provided draft copies of the ARB report before it was released to the public.

*The vice chairman of the ARB testified that he called Mills to warn her that an impending appearance of Charlene Lamb before Congress would be problematic for the State Department. Lamb had done poorly in her interview with the ARB, Mullen said, and he called Mills because he was worried that a poor performance before Congress would cause problems for the State Department and its leadership. When Representative Jim Jordan asked Mullen if he would have placed the call to Mills if Lamb had performed well, he said no.

Is that what an “independent” investigation does — warn its subjects about testimony in advance so they can prepare a rebuttal/response?  And do they water down a report when the subjects demand it?  Apparently so. But it’s not a whitewash!

*The chairman of the panel acknowledged at least one instance in which language in the report was softened after an early draft was sent to Clinton and her top aides. “The draft, as I believe it went to her, said the security posture was grossly inadequate for Benghazi, period. And we made the editorial correction recognizing that there was certainly a very real point that ‘grossly’ was probably not applicable to Benghazi in light of the changes that the State Department had made, but it was clearly applicable to dealing with the specific circumstances of the attack.”

The consulate was sacked, the ambassador assassinated, and three other Americans got killed trying to defend a retreat from it, all after State decided to rely on local militia for security and failed to recognize the danger that prompted all our allies to flee the city earlier.  If that’s not “grossly inadequate” without qualifiers, then the phrase has no meaning at all.  But it’s not a whitewash!

As for Mullen’s declaration that the “physics” of a military response prevented the DoD from defending Americans during the attack, the process of making that determination skipped quite a few people in position to know:

*The ARB did not speak with nine key military officials on the ground in Libya or Germany who were deeply involved in the US response to the attacks. Among those who was never interviewed: Lt. Colonel Steven Gibson, who was on the ground in Tripoli and whom State Department official Greg Hicks has testified was on the receiving end of the “stand-down” order that Obama officials have repeatedly disclaimed.

But it’s not a whitewash!

Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.


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Yeah, what they are trying to spread over this is definately not white!

questionmark on September 20, 2013 at 12:05 PM

I’m just glad that Charlene Lamb’s body has not been found in a park around DC…

d1carter on September 20, 2013 at 12:07 PM

At the risk of being redundant (since it cites some of Stephen Hayes’s summation), this analysis deserves a read, too.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/09/benghazi-scandal-management.php

onlineanalyst on September 20, 2013 at 12:09 PM

You have to wonder, with people with the resumes of Pickering and Mullen, did they just become unbelievably incompetent, or were they bought off in order to allow their reputations be flushed down the drain, as they led the farce known as the ARB.

There are plenty of incompetents at senior levels of the Obama Administration, not to mention a number of mid-level bureaucrats, who put ideology and loyalty to ideology / individuals before their responsibilities to the American people, but to run something as half-assed as the ARB, brings all of this to new levels of stunning incompetence.

Then we have the arrogance and lack of shame to sit in front of not only a Congressional Committee, but also the American people, and flat out lie?

These people have no honor or credibility – they have effectively spit on the graves of the 4 murdered by terrorists in Benghazi all in the name of political expediency.

Athos on September 20, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Oh. and I didn’t think it was important to ask who determined it was an internet video that caused the deaths. Or who briefed Secretary Rice.

pat on September 20, 2013 at 12:16 PM

I wouldn’t be surprised if Cheryl Mills wrote the report – or at least reviewed and red-lined it.

forest on September 20, 2013 at 12:19 PM

I’m just glad that Charlene Lamb’s body has not been found in a park around DC…

d1carter on September 20, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Kevin O’Reilly needs some company over in Iraq.

slickwillie2001 on September 20, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Irritated, Ed?

We all should be.

There Goes the Neighborhood on September 20, 2013 at 12:27 PM

The most corrupt administration in history.

Chris of Rights on September 20, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Like the PPACA, you can pretty much bet that a name given by government will indicate the opposite of the actual result: thus, an Accountability Review Board

ShainS on September 20, 2013 at 12:33 PM

If it’s not a whitewash its only because white latex paint covers better than whitewash.

No Truce With Kings on September 20, 2013 at 12:46 PM

eh, what difference does it make?

RedManBlueState on September 20, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Maybe it was a BLACKWASH.

GarandFan on September 20, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Where’re Woodward and Bernstein when you need ‘em? This has the makings of a Watergate-ish scandal…

… or not. The wrong party is in charge for Big Media to do their job.

Give ‘em hell, Ed.

I love it when you get your dander up.

hillbillyjim on September 20, 2013 at 12:55 PM

I don’t like denigrating the military but if Admiral Mullen and General Petreaus are examples of or senior military then we really are in a world of hurt. How many have retired very quickly and quietly recently?

These guys are looking like drunken, horny political operatives that can’t be distinguished from our politicians.

DanMan on September 20, 2013 at 12:58 PM

And all this to cover up the CIA illegally supplying Libyan weapons to Syrian militants in violation of a UN arms embargo and our US Constitution (Article III Section 3)!

This makes me sick!

dominigan on September 20, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Bright shinning example of the two handed operation of the two party evil money cult in Washington D.C..

All’s they got is lies backed up the hired liars and put in print by the hack paid off loon msm who make a living by lies.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on September 20, 2013 at 1:26 PM

This is a case where the cover-up and crime are equally egregious. The O and Hillary Teams are hiding so much. One day all their dirty laundry will be aired for all to see. One day…..

conservative pilgrim on September 20, 2013 at 1:36 PM

You have to wonder, with people with the resumes of Pickering and Mullen, did they just become unbelievably incompetent, or were they bought off in order to allow their reputations be flushed down the drain, as they led the farce known as the ARB.

There are plenty of incompetents at senior levels of the Obama Administration, not to mention a number of mid-level bureaucrats, who put ideology and loyalty to ideology / individuals before their responsibilities to the American people, but to run something as half-assed as the ARB, brings all of this to new levels of stunning incompetence.

Then we have the arrogance and lack of shame to sit in front of not only a Congressional Committee, but also the American people, and flat out lie?

These people have no honor or credibility – they have effectively spit on the graves of the 4 murdered by terrorists in Benghazi all in the name of political expediency.

Athos on September 20, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Spot on!
Let’s add Petraeus to the list – his CIA talking points were grossly “massaged” and reworked – yet he never came forward and called B.S. Instead he allowed Hillary and others to blame and jail a movie producer.

Hill60 on September 20, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Pure excrement.

They just made a mockery of every ABR board that ever existed or ever will.

They were in no way independent. They were run by Clinton’s to aid. That is in no way independent.

They should be shot for treason. Instead they are assured 7 figure salaries.

Steveangell on September 20, 2013 at 1:58 PM

Discredited, by his own words. Not independent. Sham. Subpoena Mills soon.

jake49 on September 20, 2013 at 2:28 PM

This whole thing has me spitting nails. I listened to that poor mother’s testimony and was just furious. Her son was brave. He’s now gone. Why? Those in charge of this farce are contemptible as well as all those involved in the cover up in the press. Obviously, integrity isn’t what it used to be. Sharyl Attkisson is to be commended for her pursuit of the truth. I hope she keeps digging until she finds it.

poli-nana on September 20, 2013 at 2:44 PM

The co-chair of the Accountability Review Board wants to assure CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson that the report on the Benghazi attack was not a whitewash for Hillary Clinton.

I’m sure that they do claim it was an unbiased and through investigation, but that’s an obvious lie. The whole thing was engineered to clear Hillary and crew.

RJL on September 20, 2013 at 2:50 PM

GAAAAAAAAA!

Bunch of corrupt, self serving, lying lumps, that pretty much sums up the whole lot of them.

scalleywag on September 20, 2013 at 3:10 PM

It depends on what the meaning of “independent” is…

crazywater on September 20, 2013 at 3:58 PM

It depends on what the meaning of “independent” is …

crazywater on September 20, 2013 at 3:59 PM