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Monday, September 16, 2013

House Oversight Committee Says Hillary's Benghazi Probe Let Top Officials Off Hook

According to a report compiled and leaked last night by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee the  State Department willfully obstructed the congressional investigation of the terrorist  attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi last year, and the State Department's Accountability Review Board (ARB) protected the senior members of the department and the ARB's staff was selected ignoring actual and perceived conflict of interests.

The full report is being released today in advance of a committee hearing later this week at which ARB Chairman Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Vice Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen will testify.
The House report critical of the ARB points to Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy as having authorized the temporary nature of the Benghazi compound, which left State Department diplomatic security "struggling" to provide adequate resources. Furthermore, State Department witnesses told the House committee that Kennedy approved the exemption of the Benghazi special mission from State Department physical security guidelines; that it was Kennedy's decision to send home the 16-man military security team the Defense Department had offered to provide at no cost to the State Department; that disagreements over security went to Kennedy for arbitration; and that Kennedy was very involved in staffing, budget and travel related to Libya.

"The ARB downplayed Kennedy's role in the decision-making that led to the inadequate security posture in Benghazi," reads the House Oversight Committee report.
Kennedy was also in charge of staffing the ARB continuing an Obama Administration tradition of  investigations being led and staffed by the department being investigated. For example, James Clapper,  the man who lied to congress denying the NSA programs existed staffed up the the NSA Investigation, and the Department of Justice investigated the DOJ's dropping of the New Black Panther case
A central finding [of the Oversight Committee Report] is that the department, as a result of the board’s findings, meted out discipline to four mid-level officials (who were later re-instated anyway), but the board glossed over the actions and decisions of senior-level officials. The report claims the internal review identified many of the security problems with the Benghazi compound, while ignoring who was behind the policy decisions that led to them.

Specifically, the report points to the authorization by Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy to continue operating the ad hoc compound in Benghazi. The interim report found that a December 2011 action memo, prepared by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and signed off on by Kennedy, green-lighted the operation. Witnesses told Republican investigators that this decision to run the operation on an ad hoc basis was largely responsible for the inadequate security presence on the ground in Benghazi, not money.

The report also noted that it’s unclear which other senior leaders were involved in this decision but said it is likely, based on email evidence, that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s views played a role in the decision-making.
What difference does it today make? The families of the four American heroes deserve to have answers to what happened in Benghazi a year ago, the American people deserve answers to what happened in Benghazi a year ago and we also deserve to know why we were misled about the attack (terrorism vs. Mohammed video) for so long and who was behind the coverup. Hopefully the new round of hearings beginning on Thursday will provide some of those answers

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