Co-chair of Benghazi review agrees to congressional interview
May 22nd, 2013
03:44 PM ET
2 years ago

Co-chair of Benghazi review agrees to congressional interview

(CNN) – After a war of words – and a subpoena – the co-chair of a review board that investigated last September's attack in Benghazi, Libya, has agreed to be interviewed privately by congressional investigators.

Thomas Pickering, a former ambassador, will voluntarily appear for a transcribed interview conducted by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the panel's chairman said Wednesday. It's the latest development in the dispute over how and where to examine the review board's report, which Republicans regard as inadequate.

"I appreciate his decision to cooperate on a voluntary basis with our Committee's investigation of the Benghazi attack," Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican, wrote in a statement. "Our investigation includes an examination of criticisms career State Department officials have made about the [Accountability Review Board] report being 'incomplete' and letting senior officials 'off the hook.'"

Pickering said previously he would prefer to testify in a public hearing of the House Oversight Committee rather than submit to a private interview, but Issa demanded the meeting behind closed doors before any open session. After Pickering refused to be privately interviewed, Issa issued a subpoena for the former ambassador.

Republicans, including Issa, have questioned the Benghazi Accountability Review Board's findings on the attack last September at an American diplomatic post in Benghazi, which left four Americans dead.

The report, issued late last year, found "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies" at the State Department in the lead-up to the attack in Benghazi. 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.

The disparagement heated up earlier this month at a House Oversight Committee hearing featuring several witnesses who said they weren't interviewed by the review board.

Neither Pickering nor his co-chair, Admiral Mike Mullen, appeared at that hearing, leading to a bitter back-and-forth over whether they were invited to testify. The following weekend on NBC's "Meet the Press," Issa said he would request a deposition from Pickering and Mullen on how their panel reached its conclusions.

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


Filed under: Darrell Issa • Libya
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. just sayin

    they never even interviewed hillary clinton or people on the ground in benghazi. it was a white wash, a farce. and it only covered the total incompetence and negligence that led up to the fiasco. it didn't go into what happened on the night of the attack, and the next day, the lack of a response to help them or the cover up and lies from the obama administration in the days and weeks afterward. sham, sham, sham.

    May 22, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Why have the hearing privately? He previously wanted to testify before the committee to call out the BS and the witch hunt.

    May 22, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Aaaw, how cute, Issa's afraid of what Pickering might say if allowed to testify publicly, so he wants a private interview full of loaded "have you stopped beating your wife" questions and a transcript he can cherry pick for out-of-context quotes he can wave around at the hearing before he'll let the guy testify. Issa is a coward and this is a clear attempt to manipulate the record.

    May 22, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  4. truth be told

    I wonder why Pickering didn't keep any of the notes or interviews from his investgation??? Why would you destroy stuff like that if you weren't trying to cover something up?

    May 22, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Republicans are playing a dangerous and deceptive game with the American people. They keep demanding that Pres. Obama and former Sec'y Clinton reveal to one and all where they were on the night of Sept. 11, and what they were doing.

    The Obama administration has so far refused to publicly reveal that information. Why? It would be an extraordinary breach of national security to reveal the location and activities of top members of the administration on the particular date, the 9/11 anniversary.

    Republicans should already know this, but are hoping that the public is as dumb as they're play acting. In fact, the Obama administration should be extremely hesitant to reveal the information in private. You know that just as soon as a Tea Partier gets their hands on that info that they will be making partisan talking points out of it.

    May 22, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    Doesn't matter what Pickering says, Issa, the GOP and all their lame-brained followers will never believe anything except what they want to believe.

    So I ask again, were Isaa and all those bottom feeders this upset when 54 attacks on American diplomatic missions (which resulted in the deaths of 13 Americans) occurred during the Bush Administration?

    *crickets*

    May 22, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    just sayin wrote:

    they never even interviewed hillary clinton .... ... ...
    ----------–
    What difference does it make?

    May 22, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    @truth be told: "I wonder why Pickering didn't keep any of the notes or interviews from his investgation??? Why would you destroy stuff like that if you weren't trying to cover something up?"

    Cite your source.

    May 22, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. Brian from CO

    Why does Issa refuse to let this man testify in front of the public?

    May 22, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    Ironic that the people who are screaming about the truth seem to feel that a closed-door hearing will reveal more than Pickering's report. Issa is only interested in a narrative that gets him maximum damage on the administration, and the Ambassador and the other three fatalities are just convenient props. I doubt that he or any other conservative really feel any outrage over the death of Stephens, who, after all, is part of the State Department they have relentlessly attacked for generations.

    May 22, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  11. truth hurts but reality bites

    The report, issued late last year, found "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies" at the State Department in the lead-up to the attack in Benghazi.
    --
    And yet the head of the Dept., Hillary Clinton, the person that the dead ambassador reported to, was NOT interviewed concerning her role in these "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies". Why is that? This alone renders this "report" a total sham and a whitewash to protect Hillary Clinton.

    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.
    -–

    Ah yes, the scape goats to be sacrificed at Hillary Clinton's altar. The truth is that these three people went on to other, better jobs in the government. NOBODY was held accountable for the needless deaths of those 4 Americans in Benghazi. And Hillary CLinton gets to slip off and hearalded as a great secretary of state, having never been interviewed for this fiasco that happened on her watch. A total sham.

    May 22, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  12. Malory Archer

    Brian from CO

    Why does Issa refuse to let this man testify in front of the public?

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Because he knows that Ambassador Pickering will call him onto the carpet and rip his lying backside apart. Keeping him under wraps allows him to cherrypick the content of the Ambassador's testimony and arrange it to fit his slanted, lying narrative.

    May 22, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  13. truth be told

    ThinkAgain
    @truth be told: "I wonder why Pickering didn't keep any of the notes or interviews from his investgation??? Why would you destroy stuff like that if you weren't trying to cover something up?"
    Cite your source.
    --

    More accuratety stated:

    "Pickering also said the review board did not record and transcribe its interviews with State Department officials.
    Asked why not by a slightly incredulous Schieffer, Pickering said, "Because we didn't feel that it was necessary for to us get the essential elements of information down." The ARB relied on "notes" instead."

    Source is CBS News.

    So if you're doing a very big report interviewing major players in the State Dept. why do you not record this information??? One would think they would want all that recorded so they could accurately review it all after they had gathered all of their information? Without recording this, they would never be able to catch people in lies or misstatements, etc. It is simply totally inappropriate investigative procedures.

    May 22, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. ghostriter

    Someone pleading the 5th.....it looks bad
    Someone calling for a closed door hearing for someone who wants a public hearing....fine by us

    Signed,
    Clueless on Conservative Island

    May 22, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Rudy NYC
    just sayin wrote:

    they never even interviewed hillary clinton .... ... ...
    ----–
    "What difference does it make?" – HRC
    -------------------------------------------
    I think he was in the corner with his duntz hat on when she said that.

    May 22, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  16. PJ

    I don't see anything about Ambassador Pickering agreeing to keep what he says a secret.
    Pickering doesn't strike me a someone who can be bullied. If Issa tries to use the "national security" excuse to
    muzzle Pickering, he will prove that his "hearings" are a farcical attempt at destroying anybody he wants to.
    So, the bully and the Ambassador will go toe to toe, and I put my money on the Ambassador.

    May 22, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. The Real Tom Paine

    -truth hurts but reality bites

    The report, issued late last year, found "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies" at the State Department in the lead-up to the attack in Benghazi.
    -
    And yet the head of the Dept., Hillary Clinton, the person that the dead ambassador reported to, was NOT interviewed concerning her role in these "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies". Why is that? This alone renders this "report" a total sham and a whitewash to protect Hillary Clinton.

    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.
    -–

    Ah yes, the scape goats to be sacrificed at Hillary Clinton's altar. The truth is that these three people went on to other, better jobs in the government. NOBODY was held accountable for the needless deaths of those 4 Americans in Benghazi. And Hillary CLinton gets to slip off and hearalded as a great secretary of state, having never been interviewed for this fiasco that happened on her watch. A total sham.
    **************
    The truth is that decisions are routinely made at a level below the Secretary: what bites is that you refuse to accept that. Do you really think any Cabinet secretary reads every memo, every email? Conservatives would say that was a responsible delegation of authority when its a disaster on their watch, but if it happens on a Democrat's watch? Oh my, they don't know what they are doing: what's next, demands to see who went to the john, and if they did #1 or #2?

    May 22, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. truth hurts but reality bites

    Rudy NYC
    Republicans are playing a dangerous and deceptive game with the American people. They keep demanding that Pres. Obama and former Sec'y Clinton reveal to one and all where they were on the night of Sept. 11, and what they were doing.
    The Obama administration has so far refused to publicly reveal that information. Why? It would be an extraordinary breach of national security to reveal the location and activities of top members of the administration on the particular date, the 9/11 anniversary.
    Republicans should already know this, but are hoping that the public is as dumb as they're play acting. In fact, the Obama administration should be extremely hesitant to reveal the information in private. You know that just as soon as a Tea Partier gets their hands on that info that they will be making partisan talking points out of it.
    -–

    You're joking right? During a major terrorist attack on one of diplomats resulting in the deaqth of 4 Americans, the American people don't have a right to know what their government and its officials were doing to save them? Obama has no problem at all in disclosing his whereabouts during every crisis, including pictures of him, EXCEPT WITH BENGHAZI.

    Are pictures of him sleeping or jetting off to Las Vegas while AMericans were being attacked and murdered not fitting for release to the public? Or was something more nefarious going on?

    May 22, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Pickering said previously he would prefer to testify in a public hearing of the House Oversight Committee rather than submit to a private interview, but Issa demanded the meeting behind closed doors before any open session."

    This in itself doesn't look good, Mr. Issa. Not good at all. Then again, witch-hunts never do.

    May 22, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. just askin

    the truth of the matter is that neither pickering nor mullen were qualified to perform any sort of investigation into this fiasco. they were merely willing pawns to be used to cover up this fiasco for hillary clinton and obama to get them by the election. they performed their role, they accomplished their mission, they helped cover up for obama and clinton.

    May 22, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  21. chill

    So what is Issa trying to hide behind closed doors? Coward!

    May 22, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  22. gwiz

    wow they want accountability and transparency yet they say no to a public hearing cant wait to see the bs that comes out because without a PUBLIC transcript the republicans can say whatever they want about the meeting. just wait pickering will never testify publicly cause hes gonna make the repugs look like fools. they only want the public to have CERTAIN details. way to be transparent and accountable while politicizing the death of a true american. darrell issa and the rest of these cowards need to put all evidence in the light so that the PUBLIC can decide or else your as mucch to blame as anyone else

    May 22, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  23. Name willard

    Opresdient obama administration is Gulity of more than incompetence the case of the benghzaia attack that results in the death of ambassdor chris steven and the there other amrcian
    Why hillary clinton are make trying hide accept from presdient obama so maybe prresdient obama get trying hand off from hillary

    May 22, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  24. jinx9to88

    GOP interview whoever they want in PUBLIC to try to embarrass them in front of everyone, but want to interview this guy in private. Doesn't this seem a little odd?

    May 22, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "Clueless on Conservative Island"

    Hey now...they're just repeating what their island god, Voit, told them to believe. Who are we to argue with The Holy Sphere?

    May 22, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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