The Hill reports that three congressional panels will be holding closed-door briefings this week with administration officials at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Nov.13), the Senate homeland security panel (Nov.14) and the House and Senate intelligence panels (Nov.15). State Department officials are reportedly scheduled to brief the chairmen and ranking members of several House committees with jurisdiction over national security.
For two State Department officials, this week will be a packed schedule on the Hill.
- Tuesday (Nov 13): Under Secretary Kennedy and Assistant Secretary Boswell will brief members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
- Wednesday (Nov 14): Under Secretary Kennedy and Assistant Secretary Boswell will brief members of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
- Thursday AM (Nov 15): Under Secretary Kennedy will testify in a closed hearing before the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee
- Thursday PM (Nov 15): Under Secretary Kennedy will testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
- Friday AM (Nov 16): Under Secretary Kennedy will brief Chairmen and ranking members from the House
During the House Oversight Committee hearing on October 10, U/S Kennedy and Charlene Lamb (Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs) testified on behalf of the State Department. The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security and Director of the Diplomatic Security Service Scott P. Bultrowicz, the most senior special agent did not testify. Neither did Eric J. Boswell, the Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, the top guy at Diplomatic Security, and who by the way, also reports directly to U/S Kennedy.
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s hearings is “To Review Circumstances Surrounding September 11, 2012, Terrorist Attack in Libya and Intelligence and Security in Region” and will focus on:
- The intelligence collection and threat reporting relating to Libya and other Middle East countries prior to the September 11 attack, how and when that information was disseminated, and what actions were taken in response;
- What is now known about the events of September 11, who was responsible for the attack, and what efforts are being made to find and hold those responsible to account;
- The Intelligence Community’s collection capabilities in the Middle East and North Africa, to include the levels of funding and availability of intelligence personnel with language and other skills necessary to operate in that part of the world; and
- The level and adequacy of security at the State Department and other U.S. government facilities in the Middle East and North Africa, and whether current arrangements for providing security at these facilities are appropriate.
The House Intelligence Committee (also a closed hearing) will reportedly have Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Matt Olsen, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, CIA
Director David Petraeus Acting Director Michael Morell and the State Department’s Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy who is probably the lowest ranked official among those invited.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) will also have a November 15 closed hearing on “Benghazi and Beyond: What Went Wrong on September 11, 2012 and How to Prevent it from Happening at other Frontline Posts” and currently has two witnesses listed:
- Mr. Michael Courts, Acting Director, International Affairs and Trade, Government Accountability Office
- Mr. William Young, Senior Policy Analyst, RAND Corporation
The Hill is however reporting that Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), who has the inside track on the gavel of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the 113th Congress, has “promised his Republican colleagues he would conduct a vigorous investigation of Libya.” Would have been much preferable if he promised the “American public” not just his “Republican colleagues” but it is what it is. We’ll see what happens next year.
We should note that the congressionally mandated Accountability Review Board for the Benghazi Attack started work the week of October 3. Unless Ambassador Pickering requires additional time for the Board, the report and recommendations should be available to the Secretary at the end of the specified 60 day mark, which would be the week of December 3 or thereabouts. The report presumably will be made available to the public given the interest on this case but for sure, it will also have a restricted classified annex given the other component.