It Wasn't 'Necessary' to Question Hillary for Benghazi Report: Pickering
One of the co-author's of the State Department's "independent" Benghazi report says it wasn't necessary to question Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because her position was "more senior than where we found the decisions were made."
Former state department official Thomas Pickering, who was co-chairman of the Accountability Review Board, was questioned about the Benghazi report on Face the Nation.
Appearing Sunday on "Face the Nation," Pickering defended the report, which he co-authored with former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, against criticisms from three former and current State Department officials who testified last week before the House Oversight Committee. Greg Hicks - the No. 2 official in Libya at the time of the strike that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans - told the committee he believed the report "let people off the hook."
"They've tried to point a finger at people more senior than where we found the decisions were made," Pickering said, citing specifically Clinton and Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy. Mark Thompson, the deputy coordinator for operations in the State Department's counterterrorism bureau, told the House committee last week that Clinton attempted to cut out the bureau from communications about the attack.
"Legislation setting up our board made it very clear that they didn't want a situation in which a department or agency had accepted responsibility and then nobody looked at where the decisions were made, and how and what way those decisions affected performance on security," Pickering said.
Clinton testified on Benghazi in January before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where she took responsibility but conceded there was no "clear picture" of what happened Sept. 11 as the situation unraveled.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., appearing later on the show, said she was "surprised today to hear that they did not probe Secretary Clinton in detail, because obviously she was the decision maker at the State Department." She recalled testimony last week from Hicks and Eric Nordstrom, former regional security officer in Libya, that "facility requirements for the consulate in Benghazi, the waiver of those requirements, by law, apparently, have to come from the secretary of state."
But "this effort to go after Hillary Clinton," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., argued in the same segment, is just an early political maneuver in the 2016 presidential election.
I'm surprised Pickering didn't try to blame Bush. Everyone else in the Obama administration does.
Instead, he and his board blamed lower level employees apparently entrusted with life and death decisions dealing with security for diplomats. No such thing as an issue being "above my pay grade" for the four lower level officials who got re-assigned (not fired) for “systemic failures and leadership deficiencies at senior levels in securing the compound."
One problem: Couldn't Hillary Clinton have shed some light on the stated policy of "reducing the security footprint" of America in Libya as a sign of confidence in the Libyan government?
Eric Nordstrom, the former Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Libya, told congressional investigators looking into the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, that the State Department was eager for the American diplomatic presence in Libya to reduce its American security footprint and to rely more on locals, sources tell ABC News. A senior State Department official denies the charge.
Is Pickering trying to say that he didn't need to talk to the person who promulgated a policy that led directly to reduced security and thus the deaths of 4 Americans? Nice try, Tommy.
In effect, the 4 diplomats who were disciplined were simply following Clinton's orders. The truth is, Pickering apparently didn't want to know if higher ups were responsible and how they were involved in the decision making process.
The state department inspector general is investigating the ARB, according to recent reports. One wonders what the IG will find out about the thoroughness of Pickering's investigation.