Tag Archives: Adm. Mike Mullen

These bureaus don’t exist in a vacuum? Oh, but they do – since …

…. the day before yesterday!

More from the ARB briefing with Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen:

MS. NULAND: Let’s go to New York Times. Michael Gordon, please.

QUESTION: Ambassador Pickering, your report was extremely critical of the performance of some individuals in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the NEA, the Middle East Bureau. And – but these bureaus don’t exist in a vacuum; they’re part of an hierarchical organization known as the Department of State, and each has a chain of command. The NEA reports up the policy chain, and Diplomatic Security, I presume, reports up the management chain, their Under Secretaries, and indeed deputy secretaries, and the Secretary herself, who oversees these bureaus. What is the highest level at the Department of State where you fix responsibility for what happened in Benghazi?

AMBASSADOR PICKERING: We fixed it at the Assistant Secretary level, which is in our view the appropriate place to look, where the decision-making in fact takes place, where, if you like, the rubber hits the road. And one of the interesting things about the statutory basis for the Review Board was that it clearly was biased against the idea that one could automatically hold, as one often does, the leader of a particular department or agency responsible without pinpointing the place where the failures took place and where the lessons that we derived from that ought to be important to fixing the problem. And so fixing the problem and finding the locus of the difficulties was the major task we had to undertake.

ADMIRAL MULLEN: And I would add to that, Michael, that, I mean, certainly that was a concern that we had as we initiated the review and we just found. And as someone who’s run large organizations, and the Secretary of State has been very clear about taking responsibility here, it was, from my perspective, not reasonable in terms of her having a specific level of knowledge that was very specifically resident in her staff, and over time, certainly didn’t bring that to her attention.

NYT’s Michael Gordon who later filed this report writes:

The report did not criticize more senior officials, including Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary for management, who has vigorously defended the State Department’s decision-making on Benghazi to Congress.
[...]
At the same time, the report that Mr. Pickering oversaw suggested that there was a culture of “husbanding resources” at senior levels of the State Department that contributed to the security deficiencies in Benghazi. Without identifying Mr. Kennedy or other senior officials, the report said that attitude “had the effect of conditioning a few State Department managers to favor restricting the use of resources as a general orientation.”

We are deeply bothered by that “We fixed it at the Assistant Secretary level” response.

The State Department is a traditional organization with a top-down hierarchy.  For as long as we’ve been studying it, it has never been a flat one, unless you’re talking about the base of a pyramid.  There are chains of command like any bureaucracy.  You can get in trouble for driving outside your lane.

Are we to believe that the decision to have a presence in Benghazi was done at the DS and NEA bureaus?

That the decision to have a light footprint in Benghazi was done at the DS or NEA bureau?

That the policy at embassies worldwide to hire a local guard force was fixed at DS alone?

That the practice of filling Benghazi with short TDY staff rotations was decided by DS or NEA but not DGHR?

That the allocation of 4-5 Regional Security Officers (RSOs) to Benghazi, as opposed to 200 assigned to US Mission Iraq was a DS bureau decision?

That the DS or the NEA bureau negotiated with the CIA on whatever security agreement there was in Benghazi?
C’mon folks, for us to believe that is like suspending disbelief as we do when we watch HBO’s Homeland.

The Cable’s Josh Rogin @joshrogin tweeted:

Assistant Secretaries are just high up enough to take the fall but not quite high up enough to do anything to defend themselves #Benghazi

Well, that’s not right.  We recognize that bureaucratic life isn’t fair, but this bothers us a great deal.

domani spero sig

 

 

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Filed under Ambassadors, Diplomatic Attacks, FSOs, Govt Reports/Documents, Leadership and Management, Leaks|Controversies, State Department

ARB Concludes Work, Unclassified Report May Be Publicly Available on Wednesday

State Department spokespersonn Victoria Nuland confirmed today that the Accountability Review Board on Benghazi has concluded its work, and that the report went to Secretary Clinton this morning.

As it stands right now, the ARB leads Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Mullen will reportedly brief the SFRC and the HFAC on Wednesday, December 19 during a closed session.

The following day, December 20,  the Secretary’s deputies – Deputy Secretary Burns and Deputy Secretary Nides – will brief SFRC and HFAC in open session, “responding to the report and talking about the path forward.”

As we have previously speculated, the report has both an unclassified and a classified section. According to the spokesperson, the entire report, at the Secretary’s direction, will be made available to the Hill sometime before the Pickering/Mullen classified briefings on Wednesday.   The reasoning being that this would give members “a chance to look at it before the briefings.” We don’t know how long is this report, but we hope it gets to the Hill tomorrow so people can actually read it before the hearings.

The big question is – when are we going to see it?

Probably sometime on Wednesday according to Ms. Nuland, although she could not confirm those details.

During the DPB, a reporter also asked the official spokesperson on “why Secretary Clinton can’t testify on Thursday about this? It seems that she has not been available to testify on the Benghazi situation on some very key dates, including the Sunday after 9/11 and now this Thursday.”

Here is part of the official response:

But it was her intention to be there. If she had not been ill, she would be there. And she’s also committed, including in a letter today to the committee chairmen, that she looks forward to having an ongoing conversation with them herself.” 

As to whether Secretary Clinton want to testify later, the spokesperson said:

“So she has, including in a letter today to the two committees, made clear that she looks forward to continuing to engage them in January, and she will be open to whatever they consider appropriate in that regard.”

With apologies folks, we actually have no idea how to translate that.

domani spero sig

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Congress, Diplomatic Attacks, Hillary, Leaks|Controversies, Secretary of State, Security, State Department

HFAC on Dec 20: Secretary Clinton to Testify on Benghazi Post-ARB Release

Last week, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, released a statement announcing that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify at an open hearing on the Benghazi attack report. Excerpt from statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“I have just received confirmation from Secretary Clinton’s office that the Secretary of State will appear before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to discuss, in an open hearing, the findings and recommendations in the report from the accountability review board (ARB) concerning the terrorist attack against our diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.”

According to CNN, Secretary Clinton will appear before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on December 20:

Next week’s testimony is expected to be proceeded by the release of the findings of an independent review of the State Department’s handling of security and the threats in Libya. The review, requested by the Accountability Review Board, is headed by former U.S. ambassador Thomas Pickering and includes former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen.

Secretary Clinton will also testify before the Senate Foreign Relations (SFRC) committee although a date has not been announced yet.

Tomorrow at 2 pm, the SFRC is holding a TOP SECRET/CLOSED: National Security Brief on Attacks in Benghazi.  

The names of the witnesses are not posted online. Could this be the Pickering-Mullen appearance?  Previous news report said that Senator Kerry of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had asked that Ambassador Pickering (ARB chairman)and retired Adm. Mike Mullen (ARB member) appear before the committee before Secretary Clinton.

domani spero sig

 

 

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Filed under 67, Congress, Foreign Affairs, Hearings, Hillary, Leaks|Controversies, Secretary of State, SFRC, State Department, Terrorism

Pickering Accountability Review Board to Start Work This Week

Updated @8:33 am PST:
The ARB announcement is set to be published on October 4, 2012. The pre-publication notice in the Federal Register dated October 1 went online today, October 3, with all the names included below, minus the name of the Executive Secretary of the Board.  The FR notice says that the Board will submit its conclusions and recommendations to Secretary Clinton within 60 days of its first meeting, unless the Chair determines a need for additional time. Anyone with information relevant to the Board’s examination of the Benghazi incidents should contact the Board promptly at (202) 647-6246 or send a fax to the
Board at (202) 647-6640.

—>

Secretary Clinton in a letter to the House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa (R-CA) said that the Accountability Review Board chaired by Ambassador Pickering will begin work this week (read Clinton’s letter to Issa here via The Cable).

The letter also lists all members of the ARB with the exception of the still unidentified Executive Secretary to the Board, normally a senior Foreign Service officer or a retired senior Foreign Service officer recommended by DGHR/CDA.

Ambassador Thomas Pickering (Ret)

He spent four decades in Foreign Service including ambassadorships in Russia (1993–1996), India (1992–1993), United Nations (1989–1992), Israel (1985–1988), El Salvador (1983–1985), Nigeria (1981–1983), and Jordan (1974–1978). He also served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 1997 to 2000. He holds the personal rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Adm. Mike G. Mullen (Ret)

A retired United States Navy admiral who left the Navy after over 43 years of service.  He served as the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2011.

Richard J. Shinnick

Director, ad interim, for the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) in 2008. Mr. Shinnick joined  OBO after retiring from the Foreign Service as a Senior Foreign Service Officer, class of Minister Counselor (FE/MC).

About Mr. Shinnick, The Skeptical Bureaucrat writes:

[...] Richard Shinnick, a retired very senior management officer who served as Interim Director of the Office of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) a few years ago, where he picked up the pieces after General Williams marched off to do whatever it is he’s doing now.

Mr. Shinnick (it is a mark of my regard for the man that I always think of him as “Mister” Shinnick) was a New York City firefighter before he became an FSO, and I remember him as a pillar of commonsense and good judgment back in the era of the first big push to increase security of our overseas missions during the late 80s and early 90s.

Catherine Bertini

She is a Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.  She was the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program from 1992 to 2002. During the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, Ms. Bertini served as Acting Assistant Secretary of the Family Support Administration in the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Food and Consumer Services at the United States Department of Agriculture. She was appointed a member of the Board of International Food and Agricultural Development, which advises USAID by President George W. Bush and reappointed by President Obama in 2011.

Hugh J. Turner III

A former deputy director of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations under George J. Tenet. He reportedly represents the intelligence community on the Board.

Executive Secretary to the Board(no info publicly available at this time).
Updated @ 10/8 -- I understand that Uzra Zeya was appointed Executive Secretary to the Pickering Board.  Ms. Zeya is currently the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.  She has over two decades of policy experience in the Department, where she has focused on the Near East and South Asia regions and multilateral affairs. Since joining the Foreign Service in 1990, Ms. Zeya’s overseas assignments have included Paris, Muscat, Damascus, Cairo, and Kingston. Ms. Zeya served most recently as Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, where she supported a range of policy initiatives, ranging from the U.S. response to transitions in the Middle East to deepening engagement with emerging global powers. Prior to that, Ms. Zeya served as Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. In Washington, she served as a Deputy Executive Secretary to Secretaries Rice and Clinton, as Director of the Executive Secretariat Staff, and as UNGA coordinator for the International Organizations bureau.

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