Sunday, October 7, 2012

House Tea Party Members In Pursuit Of Hillary Clinton: Examine Your Own Role In Cutting Diplo Post Security

Representatives Darryl Issa and Jason Chaffetz of the House Oversight Committee, on October 2, sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a letter listing attacks in Libya  over the six months prior to the deadly September 11 attack on our Benghazi consulate.   In the letter, Issa and Chaffetz make the following request:

To help the Committee in its assessment of the security situation in Benghazi belbre (sic) Ambassador Stevens' murder please prepare a written response to the following no later than October 8, 2012, and make the appropriate officials from the Department available for a briefing for of the Committee by the same date:
l. Was State Department headquarters in Washington aware of all of the above incidents? If not, why not?
2. If so, what measures did the State Department take to match the level of security provided to the U.S. Mission in Libya to the level of threat?
3. Please detail any requests made by Embassy Tripoli to State Department headquarters for additional security. whether in general or in light of specific attacks mentioned above. How did the Department respond to each of those requests?
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives and may at "any time" investigate "any matter" as set forth in House Rule X. When producing documents to the Committee, please deliver production sets to the Majority Staff in Room 2157 of the Rayburn House Office Building and the Minority Staff in Room 2471 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The Committee prefers, if possible, to receive all documents in electronic format. If you have any questions about these requests, please contact Tom Alexander or Brien Beattie of the Committee staff at (202) 225-5074. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
The following day, in a press availability with the Foreign Minister of  Kazakhstan, Secretary made the following statements.
There are continuing questions about what exactly happened in Benghazi on that night three weeks ago. And we will not rest until we answer those questions and until we track down the terrorists who killed our people. Active efforts are also underway to determine who was responsible and bring them to justice.
We have already formed an Accountability Review Board to examine this attack and to explore how we can prevent anything like this from happening in the future. The board is beginning its work this week under the leadership of Ambassador Thomas Pickering. The board’s mandate is to determine whether our security systems and procedures in Benghazi were appropriate in light of the threat environment, whether those systems and procedures were properly implemented, and any lessons that may be relevant to our work around the world.
The men and women who serve this country as diplomats deserve no less than a full and accurate accounting, wherever that leads. And I am committed to seeking that for them and for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.
No one wants to determine what happened that night in Benghazi more than the President and I do. No one is more committed to ensuring it doesn’t happen again. And nobody will hold this Department more accountable than we hold ourselves, because we served with and we knew the four men we lost. They are not just names or profiles to us. They are our colleagues and our friends.
In our initial reviews over the past two weeks, we have worked closely with other agencies, and we have learned a number of things. We will continue to learn more in the days to come. We are committed to a process that is as transparent as possible while balancing the needs of the investigations underway. It will take time before we have a complete understanding of what actually did happen. But still, I am asking the board to move as quickly as possible without sacrificing diligence and accuracy. In the interim, we will continue to provide as much accurate information as we can to the public and to the Congress.
As I’ve been saying for four years, our diplomats and development experts are on the front lines, just like our troops. And the entire United States Government needs to work together to protect them. We will not retreat. We will keep leading, and we will stay engaged everywhere in the world, including in those hard places where America’s interests and security are at stake. That is the best way to honor those whom we have lost.
There are a few things that are clear and a few that are not moving ahead.

1. The written documentation and appropriate officials requested in the letter are to be available tomorrow.
2. The committee has left the determination of who those officials are to be up to the judgment of the department.  Nothing in the letter specifies that the secretary herself be among them.
3. The secretary has pledged full cooperation and stated compelling reasons why.
4. Any information provided to the committee tomorrow will be incomplete and preliminary.

The air is rife with speculation and accusation  only temporarily quelled by the media shift to the presidential debate over the past few days.   This week there will be a debate between  Joe Biden and Paul Ryan that may also absorb whatever light might have shone on the hearing Issa's committee has scheduled for Wednesday, October 10.  Whether the subject of the attack comes up in the debate is yet to be seen, and as of right now, we do not know for certain whether the Secretary of State herself will appear before the committee since her presence was not specifically requested in the letter.  Those of us who follow her work and know her level of dedication are prone to expect that she will and that she will do so eminently well-prepared.

We should bear in mind, however, that no matter what information the State Department headquarters in D.C. had,  ability to provide adequate security to embassies in high-risk locations is not completely in the hands of the department.

Benghazi attack followed deep cuts in State Department security budget

By Shaun Waterman
The Washington Times
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Investigators looking for lessons from the fatal terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi might want to start on Capitol Hill, where Congress slashed spending on diplomatic security and U.S. embassy construction over the past two years.
Since 2010, Congress cut $296 million from the State Department’s spending request for embassy security and construction, with additional cuts in other State Department security accounts, according to an analysis by a former appropriations committee staffer.
Read more >>>>
Clearly, a great deal of what the State Department could and could not do to increase security, if indeed headquarters was notified of such a need, rested not in the hands of the department itself, but rather in the hands of the same body that is now calling the secretary and her department to task,  the House of Representatives and specifically,  the Appropriations Committee.

Try as they might to somehow blame the Secretary of State for not adequately protecting her colleagues, the Republican Tea Party House has blood on its hands and should be called to task  as well.  We should not forget their role in this going forward.  Holding them accountable is up to us.  If any of these folks represent you,  you might want to make your voice heard on this issue and remind them that the ballot is yours to cast.