“According to Stevens, Secretary Clinton wanted Benghazi converted into a permanent constituent post,” Hicks testified.

“Timing for this decision [to visit the region on Sept. 11] was important. Chris needed to report before Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, on the … political and security environment in Benghazi.”

He said Pickering appeared “surprised.”

“I did tell the Accountability Review Board that Secretary Clinton wanted the post made permanent,” Hicks testified.

“Ambassador Pickering looked surprised. He looked both ways … to the members of the board, saying, ‘Does the seventh floor [the secretary of State’s office] know about this?’ ”

The ARB appears to have ignored Hicks’s statement in its public report. Instead, the board appeared to place responsibility on Stevens.