Pickering defends Benghazi report, says criticisms not based in fact
May 12th, 2013
09:19 AM ET
11 months ago

Pickering defends Benghazi report, says criticisms not based in fact

(CNN) – The leader of a panel charged with reviewing September’s attack in Benghazi, Libya, said Sunday that criticism of his report was unfounded and did not accurately reflect how his review was carried out.

Thomas Pickering, a former ambassador and co-chair of the Benghazi Accountability Review Board, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that critics at last week’s congressional hearing into the attack were wrong in their assertions his board failed to interview key witnesses.

“I’m waiting to see whether there’s any ‘there’ there yet. I’ve looked at it very carefully, I listened to the hearings. A number of criticisms were not based on the actual happenings,” Pickering told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Pickering’s report, released late last year, found “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies" at the State Department in the lead-up to the attack in Benghazi, which left four Americans dead.

As a result, four State Department officials were disciplined immediately after the report's release. One resigned, while three others were placed on administrative leave and relieved of their duties.

But critics say the report did not go far enough, and did not include accounts from key witnesses to the attack who were on the ground as it happened.

Some of those potential witnesses testified Wednesday in front of the House oversight committee, including Gregory Hicks, the deputy chief of mission in Libya at the time of the attack. He said he felt some high-level State Department officials were let off the hook by the report.

“I think that in our system of government, the decision-making authority is at the level of presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed individuals. That's at the level of assistant secretary or higher,” Hicks said Wednesday.

The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, said Sunday he would request a depsition from Pickering on how his panel reached its conclusions.

"Ultimately, if they got it right, we can put this issue to rest," Issa said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We believe it was insufficient. We believe it's likely they did not interview all the people."

Some Republicans have said the report was too easy on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but Pickering argued Sunday that his panel was charged specifically with investigating security decisions, which he said were not made at her level.

“She has already made clear the buck stopped with her,” Pickering said. “But we were interested in where the decisions were made. And she did not make the security decisions.”

Ultimately, the hearing Wednesday yielded no new information on September’s attack, Pickering argued.

“I wish I could say yes, because I’m always intrigued in seeing what’s new,” he said. “But I did not.”


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Libya
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. jonnyg

    Candy Crowley and Pickering...the Democrat cover up team

    May 12, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  2. Scott Downer

    Peace is when we invite people to eat & share our Patriotism. "Terrorism is when they break into our Liberty & Freedom" . How can Anyone send their own to Fight and bring diplomacy and Liberty to others if our own country won't defend its soldiers ? { Benghazi } Words of peace you must have truth and commitment . The power of leadership is not with who has the biggest weapon But who can Rule with a voice of Freedom with only his words and Heart. W/o Heart and Patriotism their is no pride .. Nations will fight for their Heritage . You can not destroy their monuments or their temples or their religion . But You will bring hate and death back to your Freedom doing so . Impeach Obama his blood is tainted with the souls of American Soldiers . I will love my Soldiers as I love my own

    May 12, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  3. plain&simple

    Not the answer republicans want to hear. So the noise will continue.

    May 12, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  4. MaryM

    Republicans are more interested in bringing down President Obama than they are in getting the people who actually did the killing.

    May 12, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  5. Anonymous

    He would say that

    May 12, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  6. Ray E. (Georgia)

    The Benghazi situation is a veiw of the lack of Competency of current adminstation in Washington. Too much emphesis on Taxing the rich and everytihng else treated as "Just a Bump in the Road" "Leading from Behind" is becoming Alarmingly Clear by this Adminstration.President Bush was blasted for the message Mission Accomplished by many. Now getting Ben Laden is becoming the "Mission Accomplished" by the Obama Adminstration. "Don't count your chickens before they hatch".

    May 12, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  7. Sigmada

    They never talked to Hicks who was on the ground and part of the action yet he claims a complete investigation. He claims Sec Clinton didn't make any decisions yet he never talked to her. As a certified investigator it is clear to me based on these two events alone the man failed.

    May 12, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  8. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Aww, Tom... Do you mean to imply that Issa would run some sort of disingenuous witch hunt? That last week's Monday morning quarterback session which folks opined was not based in FACT?!?! Say it ain't so... I'm shocked! Just shocked!!

    May 12, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  9. lottie

    the repos will waste time and money on this only to discredit the president and Hillary . They are so worried about the 2016 election that they don't have the time to work on problems that face the American population now. They are a waste of time as a party and should be voted out every chance we get. Their conspiracy and cover up ideas on every issue are old and tiresome scare tactic that play to their base. Grow up GOP You lost move on

    May 12, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  10. don in albuquerque

    So sorry Mr. Pickering, but the truth just could not hold a candle to their opion, and assertations. Your report was based on fact not fantasy, and that is somethng that the right just cannot handle. When the truth rules things come out that you don't like.........like voting in lock step to cut funding for security at embassies. That darn old truth, always gets in the way of our plans. Lets find some other way to smear Hillary before she hands us our heads in the next election.

    May 12, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  11. Randy, San Francisco

    Ambitious politicians do not let facts get in the way of scoring political points, lies, or propoganda. Unfortunately they can be found on both sides of the aisle.

    May 12, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  12. Donkey Party

    @ Scott Downer – Time to have your cell re-padded and your meds dosage bumped up.

    May 12, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  13. Thomas

    Ultimately, the hearing Wednesday yielded no new information on September’s attack, Pickering argued.

    “I wish I could say yes, because I’m always intrigued in seeing what’s new,” he said. “But I did not.”

    Only Darrell Issa and Mark Sanford know the real truth about forgiveness .

    May 12, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. Patty

    Normally when an internal investigation is done we find that nothing was done wrong.. Hence Mr. Pickering's answers.. There is a cover up and more people are coming out to speak. Mr. Pickering if you investigated you would have investigated at Hillary and Obama's level. They are the ultimate decision makers.. this is very sad.. Mr. Pickering will lose all respect when this is all out...

    May 12, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  15. Pander Bear

    Since when does the GOP care about facts? There's witches named Hillary to be hunted! Get the torches and pitchforks! BTW – how's the jobs bill coming, GOP?

    May 12, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  16. Fair is Fair

    Dude looks like Mussolini in that pic...

    May 12, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Sorry, pickering..You already got caught participating in the cover-up...your input carries no weight anymore

    May 12, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. jpmichigan

    Is our government actually going after the persons who killed 4 Americans? The captured one and within weeks let him go! Who/why is our government protecting those who caused persons/person unknown to murder 4 Americans? Why didn't our government protect those Americans from attack, they asked for increased security and why were they denied? Many questions are unanswered. Was the re-election of Obama more important than the lives of 4 Americans? This tax paying American wants answers!!!!

    May 12, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  19. PJ

    I saw the "Meet the Press" interview.
    Issa has his own "cover up" going: Only allow witnesses at his hearings that will say what he wants them to.
    All others will be done "depostion" style, not open to the public, starting with Pickering.
    Issa said "Ambassador Pickering refused to appear at the hearing".
    Pickering, sitting next to him, said "that's not true".
    And the backpedaling began. Issa looked every bit the fool that he is.

    May 12, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  20. Thomas

    Two more police stations were attacked in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi in the early hours of Sunday morning, the local council said, after two others were bombed on Friday.
    The attacks are the latest signs of insecurity in Libya's second city, birthplace of the uprising that toppled the dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
    Nearly two years after his fall, rebel groups that helped to overthrow him are still refusing to disband and remain a more visible presence on the streets than the state security forces.

    John McCain and Chuck Norris need to go deal with this situation , If only McCain and Palin had won in 2008 , Benghazi would have become the world headquarters for Carnival Cruse Line , jobs , jobs , jobs !

    May 12, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  21. Thomas

    @Sigmada
    They never talked to Hicks who was on the ground and part of the action yet he claims a complete investigation. He claims Sec Clinton didn't make any decisions yet he never talked to her. As a certified investigator it is clear to me based on these two events alone the man failed.
    ===========

    As a certified investigator ?
    What do you inspect , produce at the farmers market ?

    May 12, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  22. Richard Long

    "Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this Presidency"
    Not seeing too much transparency at this time...

    May 12, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. truth hurts but reality bites

    Is this fool serious? They didn't interview Hillary Clinton!! She was on the phone at 2am with Hicks, who was in Tripoli trying desperately to save the people under attack in Benghazi. That fact alone renders the ARB report as total BS lacking any credibility.

    And then the 4 low level people that were "removed" or "fired" were merely MOVED, and I think one was actually promoted. This old fool was nothing but a tool for Clinton to avoid any culpability. He ruined his reputation in the process.

    May 12, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  24. pjoe

    Candy lost all her credibility last year. She should just go ahead & quit pretending ... and work directly for Obama. It's embarassing that she pretends to be a journalist.

    May 12, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |