FNC’s Jay Rosen emailed me this letter from Ambassador Pickering. He and Admiral Mullen offer to testify before Congress on Benghazi:
May 14, 2013
Chairman Darrell E. Issa
House Oversight and Government
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-6143
Dear Chairman Issa:
During the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s May 9 hearing on the Benghazi attacks, both you and the Ranking Minority Member of the Committee indicated that you would like me, as Chair of the Accountability Review Board, to testify at a public hearing. I am writing to inform you that Admiral Michael Mullen, the Board’s Vice Chair, and I would welcome the opportunity to testify publicly before the Committee and to answer any questions you might have.
At the May 9 public hearing and in subsequent media appearances, some have called into question the integrity of the Board and its work. We believe that such criticisms are unfounded and, if left unaddressed, undermine the essential work that the Board has done as well as the purpose of the congressionally-mandated accountability review board process. It is therefore important that we be afforded the opportunity to appear at a public hearing before the Committee and answer directly questions regarding the Board’s procedures, findings and recommendations.
In accordance with the law and established procedures, the Board conducted a thorough review and produced a report that included detailed findings and frank and often highly critical assessments. Having identified a number of failures and deficiencies, the Board included in its report to the Secretary of State twenty-nine specific recommendations to improve security for our personnel serving abroad. In sum, the Board fulfilled its role in identifying the lessons that must be learned and acted upon from Benghazi. We stand behind the Board’s report and look forward to discussing it in a public hearing.
We have asked Thomas Sullivan in the State Department’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs to work with the Committee in finding a mutually convenient date on which we can appear at a public hearing to discuss the work of the Board.
Very truly yours,
Thomas R. Pickering
cc: Rep. Elijah E. Cummings
Ranking Minority Member