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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Clinton Recovering, Top Deputies Burns and Nides Expected to Testify Dec.20

The news reports on whether or not Secretary Clinton will testify at the HFAC and SFRC on December 20 as previously announced continued over the weekend with its twists and turns.

The scheduled date was announced a week before last week.

Spokesperson Toria Nuland on December 13 suggested that the ARB report on which Secretary Clinton’s testimony will be based might not be ready on time.

On December 14, the Acting Deputy Spokesman said that “The committees have announced the secretary will be on the Hill next Thursday, and so that’s the plan. […] We’ve been cooperating with Congress extensively and will continue to do so.”

Less than 24 hours later, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines released a media statement on December 15 saying that “Secretary Clinton became dehydrated and fainted, sustaining a concussion. She has been recovering at home and will continue to be monitored regularly by her doctors. At their recommendation, she will continue to work from home next week, staying in regular contact with department and other officials.”

On December 15, Senator Kerry’s spokeswoman said that the senator “insisted that given her condition, she could not and should not appear” as planned.

Also on December 15, 3:22 pm EST, The Hill reported that Secretary Clinton’s deputies Thomas Nides and Bill Burns will now will testify in her place.

Deputy Secretary William J. Burns serves as the principal deputy, adviser, and alter ego to the Secretary of State; also serves as Acting Secretary of State when called upon.  Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Thomas R. Nides serves as Chief Operating Officer of the Department. He also serves as principal adviser to the Secretary on overall supervision and direction of resource allocation and management activities of the Department. The Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources assists in carrying out the Secretary’s authority and responsibility for the overall direction, coordination and supervision of operational programs of the State Department, including foreign aid and civilian response programs.

As far as we are aware, this is the first time somebody higher than the under secretary of management is representing the State Department on the Benghazi hearings.

If Nides/Burns are expected to testify on the Secretary’s response to the ARB report on Thursday, that means the Pickering/Mullen appearance could not be later than Wednesday. That gives us this weekend, and Monday or Tuesday as the completion date for the ARB report. And probably 48 hours for the State Department to formulate the Secretary’s report to the Congress on each such recommendation and the action taken or intended to be taken with respect to the ARB recommendations.

Not a lot of time.  Whoever is writing/editing the Secretary’s report will have little sleep until this is done.

Obviously, a decision can be made to have Secretary Clinton testify the week after Christmas week, or as soon as Congress returns early next year, when she has fully recovered.  She’s got 90 days to submit her report to the Congress anyway.  And if they could wait this long, this could wait a couple or so more weeks … we wouldn’t mind waiting.

Except that with the two deputies now up for the hearings, we can’t really expect that she will be called again in the near future to testify about the exact same thing, can we?

domani spero sig

 

 

 

Top Secret SFRC Briefing on Benghazi: DNI, State, NCC, Joint Chiefs, DOD, FBI – Who’s Missing?

We blogged last week about the scheduled December 14 Top Secret/Closed hearing at the SFRC  on the attacks in Benghazi.  The names of the witnesses were not posted online. We wondered if this was the joint Pickering-Mullen appearance on the ARB report. It wasn’t.

FP’s The Cable reported that the briefing was attended by SFRC Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and presumptive ranking Republican Bob Corker (R-TN).  The other participants were:

  • Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
  • Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy
  • Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen
  • Maj. Gen. Darryl Roberson, vice director for operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict Gary Reid
  • Jenny Ley, deputy assistant director at the FBI

Given that there was reportedly a CIA operation there, isn’t it odd that there was no rep from the CIA in the briefing?  Don’t understand this.  Oh, is the agency’s absence or presence at the briefing also a secret?

domani spero sig

 

 

US Embassy Dublin Says Goodbye to Ambassador Rooney

On December 14, 2012 U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Daniel M. Rooney resigned his post and returned to Pittsburgh. Ambassador Rooney was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland on July 1, 2009 and presented his credentials to President Mary McAleese on July 3, 2009. In an op-ed published by the Irish Times on December 14, 2012, Ambassador Rooney writes:

“It has been an honour and privilege to represent the US as ambassador to Ireland. The president charged me to protect and build the historic and deep friendship between our two countries. I am pleased to say this relationship is the strongest it has ever been. Ours is not a foreign relationship between two countries but a shared kinship between two great peoples.”

On the day that Ambassador Rooney left the country, the US Embassy posted the following short clip on its YouTube page.

“As Ambassador Dan Rooney leaves Ireland after three and a half years, we look back at what he achieved during his time here. This included a visit from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a tour of Ireland’s 32 counties and strengthening the relationship between Ireland and the United States.”

We don’t always see a look back from posts.  The embassy also put together a collection of photos over in Flickr.  A nice send off.  The embassy’s deputy chief of mission, John Hennessey-Niland has assumed office as Chargé d’affaires until the next ambassador is nominated and confirmed.

domani spero sig