#Benghazi headdesk moment: Why the review board stopped questioning Clinton

**Posted by Phineas

US Consulate, Benghazi
“Don’t ask questions”

Via PJM. This is one of those statements that makes you think “No, you didn’t just say that, did you?”

He did:

“Now, with hindsight, don’t you [Amb. Thomas Pickering, co-chair of the Accountability Review Board] think it would have been important to ask her about that conversation and other decisions she made that night? Because she [Secretary Clinton] was intimately involved,” [Wolf] Blitzer asked.

“We did. We did. We interviewed the senior staff members…”

“But why not her?” Blitzer pressed.

Pickering replied that they “felt that everything that we saw was fully and competently taken care of.”

“We didn’t have a reason in any way at all to suggest there was anything that she might have known that was not already relayed to us. It was straightforward. We thought they did an excellent job the night of. There were many different pieces of testimony we put together with respect to that,” he continued.

When asked if the ARB was trying to protect Clinton, Pickering said, “Well, the criticism may be the criticism. We will have to live with that, but the truth is that we didn’t feel there was a need to do that on the basis of all the evidence we had accumulated to date.”

“And knowing what you know now, was that the right decision?” Blitzer continued.

“Yes, of course it was the right decision.”

“To avoid any serious questioning with the secretary of state?”

“Well, if we had started down that line, where would it have ended?” Pickering asked.

Oh, gee, Ambassador, I don’t know. How about with “the Truth?” Clinton was on a 2 AM (Libyan time) phone call with DCM Hicks, by that time the highest American official in Libya because the Ambassador was missing in a besieged consulate and later found dead. He made no mention of a “demonstration” or a video. Every bit of evidence from our people on the ground –relayed to Clinton directly– and from intelligence that night indicated this was a terrorist attack. Maybe you could have asked her just where in the process of revising the talking points a dozen times the idea of a video being the cause of it all entered the picture?

And if that wasn’t in your purview, how about why repeated requests for additional security (or even just to keep the security they had) were denied? Why was the inter-departmental FEST counter-terrorism team never activated that night, despite repeated requests from the Deputy Assistant Secretary in charge to be included?

That’s why you ask the questions: You may not know where they’ll end, but, when you get there, you’ll have the accountability your board was supposed to establish.

Unless, in your dictionary, “accountability” means “whitewash.”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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