Oversight Committee Subpoenas State Department for Withheld Benghazi Talking Point Documents
WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) today announced the issuance of a subpoena for “documents and communications referring or relating to the Benghazi talking points” from ten current and former State Department officials. The State Department has refused multiple requests to provide the communications and documents on a voluntary basis.
“The State Department has not lived up to the Administration’s broad and unambiguous promises of cooperation with Congress. Therefore, I am left with no alternative but to compel the State Department to produce relevant documents through a subpoena,” Issa states in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry accompanying the subpoena.
“In a series of letters, my colleagues in Congress and I have requested documents and information related to the ongoing investigation. To date, the Administration has largely ignored these requests, despite various pledges both you and the President have made to cooperate with Congress,” Issa continues. The letter notes the Committee originally requested the documents on May 15, 2013, but the State Department responded by forwarding emails previously released by the White House, which did not comply with the Committee’s request.
“The documents the White House released on May 15, 2013 did not answer outstanding questions about who at the State Department, other than spokesperson Victoria Nuland, expressed reservations about certain aspects of the talking points, including language that made clear the State Department had received prior warnings of threats in the region and was aware of previous attacks on foreign interests in eastern Libya, and that extremists linked to al Qa’ida may have participated in the attacks. Nuland’s correspondence to the interagency suggests that she did not raise these concerns in a vacuum. For example, after changes were made to address State Department concerns, Nuland responded that the changes did not “resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership … The documents the enclosed subpoena covers will help the Committee understand why, although on the day after the attacks senior State Department leadership believed that Islamic extremists were involved, there were reservations about publicly acknowledging any such involvement just three days later.”
According to the letter, “Publicly available information about the talking points creates the appearance that Administration officials were interested in sparing the State Department from political criticism in the wake of the attack… This issue is at the heart of the Committee’s ongoing investigation.”
The letter and subpoena gives sets a deadline of Friday, June 7, 2013, for Secretary Kerry to provide all documents and communications referring or relating to the Benghazi talking points, to or from the following current and former State Department personnel:
- William Burns, Deputy Secretary of State;
- Elizabeth Dibble, Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs;
- Beth Jones, Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs;
- Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management;
- Cheryl Mills, Counselor and Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton;
- Thomas Nides, Deputy Secretary for Management;
- Victoria Nuland, Spokesperson;
- Philippe Reines, Deputy Assistant Secretary;
- Jake Sullivan, Director of Policy Planning; and,
- David Adams, Assistant Secretary for State for Legislative Affairs.