Congress Serves Three Benghazi Events This Week – Tickets Running Out!

— By Domani Spero

This week, Congress will have three events focused on Benghazi, two State Department related hearings and one on-the-record interviews with a couple of spooks or OGA folks.

The week started off with the release of the House Oversight Committee’s Benghazi Attacks: Investigative Update Interim Report on the Accountability Review Board (See Read and Weep: Congressional Committee Releases Report Questioning Benghazi ARB Investigation).  An excellent primer on people just doing their jobs.  The 99-page report is worth reading if you work inside the building. Similarly, the Pickering and Mullen transcripts (see links below) are a must-read, too.

On Wednesday, September 18, the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) will hold the following hearing with State Department Under Secretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy:

Hearing: Benghazi: Where is the State Department Accountability?
2172 House Rayburn Office Building Washington, DC 20515 |
Sep 18, 2013 10:00am

Several days ago, the Best Practices Sullivan Report leaked to AJAM was quite blunt.  The item was followed by AJAM’s Patrick F. Kennedy: The man in the middle. The Project for Government Oversight (POGO) a few days ago also has the following headlines: State Department Gives Misleading Testimony to Senate and Benghazi Ignored: New Evidence Exposes Gaps in Kabul Embassy.  And now, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight wants answers.  This will be a rough week for some folks but we can almost imagine how this will play out.

On September 19, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on “Reviews” of the Benghazi Attack and Unanswered Questions.  No witnesses have been identified on the OGRC website but word has it that Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Michael Mullen will be two of the witnesses during Thursday’s hearing. Perhaps in preparation for that hearing, the Oversight Committee has posted the full transcripts of the interviews with ARB co-chairs Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Michael Mullen.

Reviews of the Benghazi Attack and Unanswered Questions
2154 Rayburn House Office Building
September 19, 2013 | 9:30 a.m.

Transcript of interview with Admiral Michael G. Mullen

Transcript of deposition of Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering

Previously announced on September 11, but we understand happening this week, the  House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will also conduct an on-the-record interview with two Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers who were on the ground in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 later this month.

HPSCI Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Announces Benghazi Oversight Agenda

Whew! Are you ready?

Updated 9/18 – 7:30 am: We missed this one, not directly related to Benghazi, but one that came about in the aftermath of Benghazi.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 19 will also have a hearing on the nomination of Gregory Starr to be Ambassador Eric Boswell’s successor as Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security.

Mr. Gregory B. Starr
of Virginia, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security

Thursday, September 19, 2013 | 10:00 AM | Senate Hart 216

Updated 9/18 at 10:13 am PST: Oops, what’s this? Former and current colleagues are talking to John Hudson of The Cable about Mr. Starr.  Allegations Swirl Around Obama’s Pick for State Department Security Chief.  State Department Chief of Staff David Wade waded in and added his support to the nominee. “Anyone smearing a distinguished public servant should have the guts to do it on the record instead of seeking cowardly refuge in anonymous quotes.”


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.