A witness testified at a hearing conducted by the House Select Committee on Benghazi that the Accountability Review Board (ARB), the Independent State Department Benghazi review, panel was not really independent at all.
Todd Keil, who served under President Obama from 2009-2012 as the Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), testified to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) that the ARB was not “fiercely independent,” citing Admiral Michael Mullen’s testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last year.
Jordan: “Mr. Keil, what’s your overall impression of the ARB report?”
Keil: “Mr. [Mark] Sullivan and I testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Ambassador [Thomas] Pickering referred to the ARB as being ‘fiercely independent.’ In that same hearing, Admiral Mullen admitted to Oversight and Government Reform that he was reporting on ARB proceedings to the senior staff of the State Department outside of the precepts and the requirements of being a member of the ARB. I don’t think that fits anyone’s definition of being ‘fiercely independent.’”
Jordan: “So you don’t think it was independent at all?”
Keil: “Not based on what was…”
Jordan: “Frankly I share your belief…”
When asked last year at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee by Jordan as to why he disclosed information by the ARB, Mullen testified he didn’t think former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Charlene Lamb, who acknowledged she denied requests for more security in the Benghazi region, would not be a witness.
“I didn’t think that Charlene Lamb would be a witness at that point in time that would represent the [State] Department well…the intent was to get the best possible witness, identified for the State Department.
Illinois Democrat Rep. Tammy Duckworth used her time Wednesday defending Admiral Mullen: “I was there the day Admiral Mullen testified, and I have to disagree with you.”
“You may question his professional integrity, but when Admiral Mullen, a man that served in Vietnam — 43 years of military service, defending this great nation — comes before this committee and swears an oath of office and then testifies he was fiercely independent in the ARB, I would tend to believe him.”
Keil responded to Duckworth’s statement by reminding the Illinois Democrat that Mullen testified under oath that he disclosed ARB proceedings to other State Department officials.
“It’s a statement of fact; it’s not a subjective judgement.”
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Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (Flickr)