Yessir, Mr. Issa. We'll get right on that investigation lickety-split. Too bad we won't have our report for you until after the November election.
"I appreciate that you and your committee are deeply interested in finding out what happened leading up to and during the attacks in Benghazi, and are looking for ways to prevent it from happening again. I share that commitment," Clinton wrote in the letter, obtained by The Cable. "Nobody will hold this department more accountable than we hold ourselves -- we served with Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods."
Clinton said that the State Department's Accountability Review Board will begin work this week and the letter revealed the names of all five board members. In addition to former Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Pickering, who will lead the board, the other members will be former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen (ret.), Catherine Bertini, Hugh Turner, and Richard Shinnick.
Clinton asked Issa to withhold any final conclusions about the Benghazi attack until the review board finishes its work and reports to Congress, which could come as early as November or as late as early next year. She pledged to work with Issa's committee and asked him to submit any requests for information or witnesses at hearings to the State Department's Office of Legislative Affairs.
Clinton was responding to a Monday letter from Issa, first reported by The Daily Beast, claiming that committee had received information "from individuals with direct knowledge of the events in Libya" that the Sept. 11 attack was "the latest in a long line of attacks" on Western diplomatic assets in Benghazi.
The Benghazi consulate was attacked two other times in 2012, Issa wrote, including one previously disclosed bomb attack that shattered an outer wall of the compound in June and a newly disclosed incident where an attacker threw a bomb over the compound wall in April.
"It was clearly never, as Administration officials once insisted, the result of a popular protest," Issa wrote. "In addition, multiple U.S. federal government officials have confirmed to the committee that prior to the Sept. 11 attack, the U.S. mission in Libya made repeated requests for addition security in Benghazi. The mission in Libya, however, was denied these resources by officials in Washington."
There shouldn't be any reason why the State Department investigation and Issa's government reform committee can't look into the Benghazi attack at the same time. The congressman's committee will hold a hearing on security at the consulate but it is unclear whether the State Department will cooperate and send witnesses.
This story continues to simmer and may yet become more of a campaign issue in the coming days and weeks.