Benghazi Select Committee- ARB and State Department Grading Themselves
“For a moment, I just felt lost.” ~ Gregory Hicks
“They can read it in the book.” Hillary Clinton when asked if she’ll turn over notes to the Select Committee
“It strikes me that there are two issues at play… the ethicsisity of the ARB process itself, whether or not it is in our best interest to allow any such entity to essentially grade its own papers. We don’t do that in any other category of life. We don’t get to sentence ourselves when we’re in court. We don’t get to grade our own papers in a classroom…”~ Trey Gowdy, Sept.17th 2014
The September 17th public Committee hearing was centered on the Accountability Review Board’s reports and what has been implemented by the State Department since.
Rep. Peter Roskam asked Gregory Starr, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security how many of the recommendations and waivers had been put in place. He also asked why none of Ambassador Stevens’ numerous requests for creating a security team and for more security were ever answered. Stevens was described in the ARB as the “leading US Government advocate on the Libya policy and his expertise on Benghazi in particular, caused Washington unusual deference to his judgments”.
One would think that when Stevens requested multiple times for more security and warned for months before that terrorist activity was growing prevalent; the higher ups at the State Department would have paid attention and done something.
One of the points Rep. Roskam made during that part in the hearing, was when at the ARB hearing Sec. Starr had been asked if there were any plans for a facility in the future, Starr responded that “We don’t have any plan for it.”
Rep. Roskam paraphrased Starr’s earlier testimony, saying
“I’m paraphrasing now, ‘I’m not likely to approve it.’… That tells me you can do it all again. That tells me you can take the special mission compound, you can call it something else, you can call it a temporary consular facility… You can take two adjectives and put it in front of a noun and call it some other thing, and do it all again. So here’s the question. If Madeline Albright signed off on certain recommendations, if the Best Preferences panel makes certain recommendations, why is it that the State Department is clinging to this legacy of power that has failed…?”
Sec. Starr replied, “I think that in accepting 38 out of the 40 recommendations made by the Best Practices Panel, I think the Department has made tremendous progress and efforts in that time I have been back… Every recommendation needs to be looked at from the recommendation stand point but then from the organization as well.”
Rep. Roskam asked about an earlier point made again by Sec. Starr about the responsibility of a Foreign Service officer and how they have the responsibility of their own security, yet when Ambassador Stevens’ was sending cables to Washington, the State Department did nothing. Based on Previous ARB standards they still did nothing even though they had the authority to.
It seems that none of the earlier ARB & other panel recommendations matter at the State Department, so in essence, Benghazi, which never should have happened, did happen because State ignored their own recommendations, and they have the potential to do it again if such a situation arises.
A couple of interesting points were made near the end of the hearing by Rep. Gowdy.
“Mr. Secretary (Gregory Starr) I want to read something to you… ‘We are disturbed at the inadequacy of resources to provide resources against terrorist attacks. We are disturbed at the relative low priority of accorded security concerns. We praise the Ambassador for seeking security enhancements long before the attack.’ Do you know where that comes from Mr. Secretary? What I just read?”
Starr- “I believe its part of the Accountability Review Board Report…”
Gowdy- “From 1999… That was the ARB from 1999 and you can lay it almost perfectly over what happened in Benghazi. One other point, the 1999 ARB went really clear, they went out of their way to make it clear, they were disappointed that the recommendations that came after the bombings in Beirut were not being implemented… The ’99 ARB criticizes existing State Department Employees for not following the Inman Commission from 14 years prior. That’s a quarter century’s worth of recommendations and yet here we sit… I’m going to read you another one. This goes to Mr. Cummings’ point, which was a great point. Diplomatic situations should be made to all governments with whom we have relations to remind them they have security obligations to our Embassy. Who in Libya were we to call? Who…? Who did we call in Libya?”
Since the Accountability Review Board, in Gowdy’s words, is grading themselves, nothing has been done to hold anyone accountable. Since Benghazi, many of the players in DC have been actually been promoted and continue on in other endeavors. Victoria Nuland was promoted to assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, and Susan Rice was promoted to White House national security adviser, Hillary Clinton has been touring for her book, and aspiring for the 2016 elections.
Another point was made by Trey Gowdy, “Was there a government in Libya for us to contact?”
Starr- “No. Not at that time.”
It was reported in March, 2011 that then Sec. of State Clinton “paved the way for the United States to arm the Libyan rebels by declaring that the recent UN Security Council resolution relaxed an arms embargo on the country.”
In June 2011, the US recognized the rebels as the legitimate governing authority in Libya.
In November 2011, the black flag of Al Qaida was seen in Benghazi flying atop the Courthouse.
Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) governed Libya during and after the 2011 fall of Gaddafi, was dissolved with the General National Congress election on July 7, 2012. The GNC was mandated to form a government, prepare a new electoral law and hold new elections. It was originally tasked to form a body to draft a constitution, but the NTC revoked that power just prior to elections in an attempt to ease tension between eastern and western Libya.
Obama had lied about having boots on the ground in Libya, yet eyewitnesses’ reports showed that Special Forces were there. If there was no real government other than the GNC for us to contact, why would the Obama Administration, Dept. of Defense and State Department deny sending more help before and during the attack? One of the main questions I’ve had and have asked since late 2012, is why Obama never issued a Cross Border Authority or CBA, as he is the only one who can give that order.
The more that comes out about exactly what kind of facility the compound was, and people not knowing exactly why Stevens was there, the fact that extra security precautions were not taken, gives more evidence to what has been reported about Operation Zero Footprint, including the US illegally smuggling arms through Turkey to al Qaida linked terrorist rebel groups in Syria to over throw or possibly destroy Assad just as the administration had done in other Arab spring nations including Libya.
It seems that the Obama Administrations’ tenet to interfere and working with highly questionable ‘rebel’ groups to overthrow governments has created more US armed and dangerous terrorists than ever before. From Libya, to Syria where even though Assad is still in power, the rebel forces which the US has now agreed again to arm, are as volatile as ever, and creating worse situations for Christians and other minorities in the Middle East and North Africa.
When it comes to Benghazi, the Obama administration and Hilary Clinton have been incredibly derelict in their duties at least. At worst they have acted in a treasonous manner by using the compounds in Benghazi as a staging area to ship arms to terrorists in Syria.
According to Secretary Starr’s testimony he mentioned, “The latest example, when we’re trying to open a facility in southern Turkey, we had a request to put personnel in on the ground for Start Operations, for operations, for humanitarian operations…”
This leads me to believe the administration will be using a facility as a staging ground for more Intel about ISIS and Europeans and Americans who have been going through Turkey from other countries to cross in and out of Syria to train with ISIS.
I don’t want what happened in Benghazi to ever happen again, especially when it involves members of or veterans of our Special Operations Forces who do a hugely important job which will always be dangerous. The needless added danger of being used in such ways by a State Department and Administration which still has not followed recommendations, however, to use Obama’s words, is “Not optimal.”
Mr. Gowdy, millions of Americans are grateful for your service in chairing the Select Committee, and we know there is much more work you must do. We hope more direct questions relating to the Administration and State Department cover ups, deliberate lies and arming terrorists will be inquired about in future hearings.