Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hillary Clinton and the ARB Reporting System Reviewed: Things You Should Know

Following the attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, convened, as required by law, an Accountability Review Board (ARB).   It was the 12th ARB to have been convened since the law was established.   The ARB submitted their report to her, and on December 18, 2013,  Hillary Clinton submitted the board's classified and unclassified reports along with a cover letter to Congress while recovering from serious health issues at home.

Both documents were made available here at the time and remain available in the sidebar on the right.  In the wake of their publication, I posted sections of the report in small portions on Facebook.  Several friends thought that was a good way to make the information available.

Apparently in response to demands from the House Oversight and Reform Committee, the State Department Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently conducted a review of ARBs and issued that report this week.  Four former secretaries of state, including Hillary Clinton, were interviewed in the process of conducting this review.  As I have been reading through it I have found some items that deserve to be brought to the fore in light of criticisms that have been lodged against Hillary.
Since small portions appear effective, here are a few statements from the Special Review of the Accountability Review Board Process (ISP-I-13-44A) that clarify some issues that some perhaps  have not understood.

As for accusations that the ARB was somehow covering information to protect Secretary Clinton.
P 1 ¶ 1 The Accountability Review Board process operates as intended—independently and without bias—to identify vulnerabilities in the Department of State’s security programs.

Then, of course there is the accusation that Hillary, herself, appointed board.
P 6 ¶ 1 ARB membership consists of five individuals. The Secretary names four members, and the Director of National Intelligence names the remaining member.

Darrell Issa and his minions have railed and roiled since the ARB did not interview Hillary Clinton.  Here is the record.  The emphasis is mine.
P 14 ¶ 6 None of the 12 ARBs interviewed the Secretary to ascertain her/his role in the events leading up to the incident under review. ARB members interviewed by the OIG team stated that after reviewing documentation, they did not find reason to interview the Secretary; rather, the ARBs focused their inquiries at the operational levels of the Department responsible for implementing and overseeing security policies and programs. ARB members were unanimous in saying that they felt empowered to interview anyone, including the Secretary, as the facts or events warranted.

Hillary submitted the ARB reports, both classified and unclassified, and made the unclassified report public.   The day she testified before Congress it appeared that there were those (Republicans) in both houses who had not familiarized themselves with the contents of the reports.  This is  especially egregious negligence on their part since she was not required to submit the actual reports but did so nonetheless.  She,  in fact,  went above and beyond the call of duty in providing the documents since all she was actually required to do was provide her own report to Congress based on these reports.  Instead, she sent them all of the information gathered by the ARB, something she did not have to do.
P 17  ¶ 1The Secretary has a legislated mandate to submit a report to Congress on each recommendation but is not required to forward to Congress a copy of the ARB report itself. The Department submitted the ARB reports on the Nairobi/Dar es Salaam and the Benghazi attacks to Congress in their entirety. Because the recommendations in these reports were so far-reaching and had such significant resource implications, the Secretary considered it important that the findings be shared with both houses of Congress. In the other 10 ARB investigations reviewed, the secretaries’ reports to Congress provided a summary of the key elements of the ARB report, transmitted the ARB’s recommendations for action, and informed Congress of the Department’s response to those recommendations. The OIG team’s review of the secretaries’ reports to Congress over the last 14 years indicated that they accurately conveyed the key elements of the ARB reports.

Should I, as I continue reading the report,  find additional information to shed clear light and offer evidence of Hillary's transparency on issues at the center of  the Tea Party Benghazi obsession,  I will be certain to share them.

The bottom line, of course, is that Hillary followed the letter of the law and went beyond by providing the ARB report in two forms when that was not required.  She is above reproach in this review process while the Tea Party Republicans show no respect for law or order in this case or in their current attempts to bring the country to its knees over a law that, while not perfect, is helpful to many and thus good.   Instead of tweaking the imperfections of the law and improving what we have (their job), they would prefer to drive us to insolvency for purely partisan reasons.

Their war against Hillary and their strategy of pulling the emergency brake on the whole country because of a law they do not like although  the country re-elected the president who signed it are shameful and unconscionable.