WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa today sent letters to Benghazi Accountability Review Board (ARB) co-chairs former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Admiral Mike Mullen requesting that they submit to transcribed interviews in anticipation of a public hearing on the board’s investigation. The letters come after three career State Department officials described the report as “incomplete” and said that it let senior officials “off the hook.” On Sunday, ARB co-chair Thomas Pickering acknowledged that the board’s investigation did not ask senior officials questions or examine why State and White House officials pushed a false public narrative of the attack.
“During [Wednesday’s] hearing, the findings and methodology of the State Department’s ‘Accountability Review Board’ (ARB) were discussed frequently,” Issa wrote in his letter to Pickering. “Three senior State Department officials who testified at the hearing criticized the ARB’s work as ‘incomplete’ and flawed because the ARB did not interview key witnesses and failed to hold senior officials accountable. On May 12, 2013, you defended the ARB’s work on ‘Face the Nation.’ You stated that those criticisms are ‘unfair’ … The White House and the State Department have touted the ARB’s report as the definitive account of how and why the Benghazi attacks occurred. It is necessary for the Committee to understand whether the criticisms of the ARB’s work that we heard from witnesses on May 8, 2013 are valid.”
The letters request that Pickering and Mullen contact the Committee no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday May 15, 2013, to arrange times for the interviews. On April 11, 2013, former U.S. Embassy in Libya Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks sat for a bipartisan transcribed interview prior to his public testimony on May 8.
On Sunday, Chairman Issa spoke with Ambassador Pickering following their appearance on Meet the Press. Ambassador Pickering told him that he and Admiral Mullen would voluntarily appear for the transcribed interviews and stated that they would be useful as a venue to discuss the board’s work in advance of a public hearing.
Click here for Chairman Issa’s letter to Ambassador Pickering
Click here for Chairman Issa’s letter to Admiral Mullen