Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has turned down an invitation to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee next Thursday on the Benghazi attack.
A committee update this evening indicated that Michael Courts, acting director of International Affairs and Trade for the Government Accountability Office, will be testifying followed by a RAND Corp. analyst.
The committee indicated further witnesses could be added, but the State Department confirmed that Clinton won’t be one of them.
“She was asked to appear at House Foreign Affairs next week, and we have written back to the chairman to say that she’ll be on travel next week,” said department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. She did not answer a question about whether Clinton would be willing to fly back from Australia to address either the Foreign Affairs panel or the Senate and House closed-door intelligence committee hearings getting to the root of the Benghazi scandal.
“The Committee plans to hold the second segment of this hearing the week of November 26, 2012 and will request Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testify before the Committee at that time,” the Foreign Affairs Committee said in an advisory.
Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) wrote Clinton on Tuesday to demand that the State Department respond to the panel’s requests for information on Benghazi.
“It is disappointing that we have yet to receive any response from your Department and that we are receiving more information from the press than from the Administration,” Ros-Lehtinen wrote.
On Sept. 12 and Sept. 14, the chairwoman requested State Department witnesses for both an open hearing and closed-door members’ briefing. On Sept. 25, committee members requested information on intelligence leading up to the attack and the role former Guantanamo detainees may have played. On Oct. 15, fresh requests were sent from Ros-Lehtinen directly to Clinton. No responses have been received.
“While I understand that investigations by the FBI and the State Department’s own Accountability Review Board are ongoing, it is imperative that this Committee, having direct oversight responsibility, be kept informed every step of the way of developments in the matter,” Ros-Lehtinen wrote. “Accordingly, I respectfully request access, in accordance with standard procedures for classification information, to all cables regarding embassy security in Benghazi before, during, and after the September 11th attack and all memoranda establishing security protocols, including agreements with other agencies.”
“Moreover, I continue to have concerns more broadly about embassy post security in frontline countries and I request an expeditious response to the questions raised in my October 15th letter,” the chairwoman added. “Finally, please be prepared to present State Department officials to testify on these issues when Congress reconvenes later this month.”