Hey, remember that big State Department self-investigation that made all other investigations of the Benghazi debacle unnecessary? (It would be understandable if you’ve forgotten, because as White House spokesman Jay Carney reminded us, “Benghazi happened a long time ago.”) Well, it looks like the State Department’s internal panel is now under investigation by the Office of Inspector General, as reported by Fox News:
The IG’s office is said by well-placed sources to be seeking to determine whether the Accountability Review Board, or ARB — led by former U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen — failed to interview key witnesses who had asked to provide their accounts of the Benghazi attacks to the panel.
The IG’s office notified the department of the “special review” on March 28, according to Doug Welty, the congressional and public affairs officer of the IG’s office.
This disclosure marks a significant turn in the ongoing Benghazi case, as it calls into question the reliability of the blue-ribbon panel that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton convened to review the entire matter. Until the report was concluded, she and all other senior Obama administration officials regularly refused to answer questions about what happened in Benghazi.
Another question raised by this development is: Who investigates the investigators investigating the investigators, if an investigation of the investigator investigators is required?
It seems like only yesterday that the Administration was touting the State Department review as the last word on Benghazi. Oh, that’s right, it was yesterday.
On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said: “The Accountability Review Board which investigated this matter — and I think in no one’s estimation sugarcoated what happened there or pulled any punches when it came to holding accountable individuals that they felt had not successfully executed their responsibilities — heard from everyone and invited everyone. So there was a clear indication there that everyone who had something to say was welcome to provide information to the Accountability Review Board.”
On Monday, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said of the ARB’s work: “We think that we’ve done an independent investigation, that it’s been transparent, thorough, credible, and detailed, and … we’ve shared those findings with the U.S. Congress.”
In an interview for the Fox News program “Geraldo” taped Thursday afternoon and set to air this weekend, Joe diGenova, a former U.S. attorney, told host Geraldo Rivera that he is legally representing a career State Department officer whom the board failed to interview. DiGenova called the ARB a “cover-up.”
DiGenova is married to Victoria Toensing, who represents a State Department whistleblower who claims to have been threatened with career retaliation by Administration officials.
Fox News is also reporting that on the night of the Benghazi attack, “special operations put out multiple calls for all available military and other assets to be moved into position to help – but the State Department and White House never gave the military permission to cross into Libya.”
The disconnect was one example of what sources described as a communication breakdown that left those on the ground without outside help.
“When you are on the ground, you depend on each other — we’re gonna get through this situation. But when you look up and then nothing outside of the stratosphere is coming to help you or rescue you, that’s a bad feeling,” one source said.
Multiple sources spoke to Fox News about what they described as a lack of action in Benghazi on Sept. 11 last year, when four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed.
“They had no plan. They had no contingency plan for if this happens, and that’s the problem this is going to face in the future,” one source said. “They’re dealing with more hostile regions, hostile countries. This attack’s going to happen again.”
Sounds like the upcoming Congressional hearings will have plenty of new territory to cover.