House Republicans are criticizing the review board that investigated last year’s attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
A new report released Monday by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa accuses the Accountability Review Board (ARB) of conducting a flawed investigation, which produced a report in December that discovered failures in management and leadership at the State Department.
The new Oversight Committee report focuses on the ARB’s failure to “address systemic issues that have long plagued the State Department,” and says the ARB’s investigation overlooked key facts that would expose what went wrong in Benghazi: “One year after the Benghazi attacks, no one at the State Department has been fired for their role leading up to the Benghazi attacks,” the report states, noting that the four State Department employees relieved of their duties by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were reinstated by current Secretary John Kerry. “It appears increasingly likely the Department’s primary objective was to create the public appearance of accountability.”
The report also suggests that the ARB’s “heavy reliance on State Department employees and resources” during last year’s investigation created a conflict of interest, and that the ARB’s “independent” investigation was marred by bias and downplayed the role senior-level officials played in the “vulnerability of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.”
The State Department is pushing back on Issa’s report, and says the ARB’s review was “thorough and transparent.” State Department Assistant Secretary Douglas Frantz told CBS News, “Attacking the ARB now is an attack on the integrity of one of America’s most respected diplomats and one of the nation’s most respected military leaders, both of whom spent their lives serving presidents of both parties. The idea that facts are being hidden and people shielded from questioning is wrong on its face.”
ARB Chairman Amb. Thomas Pickering and Vice Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen are expected to testify on Thursday before the House Oversight Committee.