Oversight committee releases report on Benghazi faulting Hillary for letting top officials off the hook
More importantly than criticizing former Secretary Clinton, the report is scathing in its portrayal of the so-called "independent commission" headed by Thomas Pickering and former JCS chief Admiral Mullen. The committee investigation concluded that the commission - the Accountability Review Board - was not independent and should not have solely blamed the security debacle on 4 mid level state department employees.
The Administrative Review Board, chosen by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, unfairly placed the blame for the terrorist attack on four mid-level officials while ignoring the role of very senior officials in Clinton's State Department for decisions about security in Benghazi, according to the new report led by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA). Also, the structure of the ARB and the culture in Clinton's State Department raised questions about the independence and integrity of the review, according to Issa's committee.
"The ARB blamed systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies within two bureaus, but downplayed the importance of decisions made at senior levels of the Department. Witnesses questioned how much these decisions influenced the weaknesses that led to the inadequate security posture in Benghazi," the report stated. "The ARB's decision to cite certain officials as accountable for what happened in Benghazi appears to have been based on factors that had little or no connection to the security posture at U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya."
The Daily Beast first reported in May that the four officials removed from their jobs and placed on administrative leave as a result of the State Department's ARB report on Benghazi had never been told what they were accused of, never been given any opportunity to appeal their punishments, and never were officially fired. One of the officials, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ray Maxwell, had little to no role in Libya security policy and was not even alleged to have been connected to the security failures leading up to the Benghazi attack.
"The haphazard decision to place the four officials cited by the ARB on paid administrative leave created the appearance that former Secretary Hillary Clinton's decision to announce action against the individuals named in the ARB report was more of a public relations strategy than a measured response to a tragedy," Issa's report said. "Therefore, one year after the Benghazi attacks, no one at the State Department has been fired for their role leading up to the Benghazi attacks. It appears increasingly likely the Department's primary objective was to create the public appearance of accountability."
Basically the political cover up is continuing even today. What started as an attempt to deflect blame from candidate Obama became a full blown, full court press to manipulate information coming out about the attack to save Clinton and her under secretaries from well deserved criticism, as well as distance the president as far as possible from the decision making process leading up to the attack as well as what happened during the terrorist assault.
Rep. Issa is still bulldogging the issue, demanding to interview survivors of the attack. But more than a year after the fact, the state department, the CIA and the Pentagon are all dragging their feet about allowing Issa's committee access to the people who could clear up several discrepancies and answer questions that still linger.
Little of this is a surprise. Only the willfully self deluded believed the ARB was "independent" and that Clinton wouldn't do everything in her power to cover up her failures. But its now on the record and could lead to some uncomfortable questions of candidate Clinton as she begins her run for the White House.