State Department: Yes, We’ll Send Benghazi Documents — Again

Charles S. Clark, Government Executive
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Charles S. Clark, Government Executive
Aug. 13, 2013, 11:02 a.m.

WASH­ING­TON — The State De­part­ment on Monday af­firmed that it will con­tin­ue work­ing to meet House Re­pub­lic­ans’ on­go­ing de­mands for doc­u­ments re­lat­ing to the agency’s hand­ling of the Septem­ber 2012 fatal at­tack on the U.S. out­post in Benghazi, Libya.

In the latest re­quest, Rep. Dar­rell Issa, R-Cal­if., chair­man of the House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee, on Aug. 8 sent a let­ter to former State De­part­ment spokes­wo­man Vic­tor­ia Nu­land de­mand­ing her emails con­cern­ing the much-de­bated tele­vi­sion “talk­ing points” from the days fol­low­ing the at­tack that left four Amer­ic­ans—in­clud­ing Am­bas­sad­or Chris Stevens—dead.

“You wrote that changes to the talk­ing points did not ‘re­solve all my is­sues or those of my build­ing lead­er­ship,’ ” Issa said in his let­ter. “Your email makes clear that de­part­ment lead­er­ship shared con­cerns with you about the draft talk­ing points. It is my hope and ex­pect­a­tion that the doc­u­ments I am re­quest­ing will identi­fy those con­cerns, and whose con­cerns they were.”

Issa went on to de­scribe as in­ad­equate the State De­part­ment’s re­sponse in hand­ing over 97 pages to com­ply with his May 28, 2013, sub­poena, say­ing it failed to ex­plain the email lan­guage. “The State De­part­ment con­tin­ues to re­fuse to make the doc­u­ments avail­able that would cla­ri­fy what as­pects of the talk­ing points your bosses were con­cerned about.”

In a state­ment emailed to Gov­ern­ment Ex­ec­ut­ive ac­know­ledging re­ceipt of Issa’s let­ter, a de­part­ment spokes­man said, “the 100 pages of emails on the talk­ing points were pub­licly re­leased months ago, but Chair­man Issa still is­sued a sub­poena on the top­ic, with which we fully com­plied. He con­tin­ues to ask about the talk­ing points and we will again work with him to ad­dress these is­sues.”

State has “demon­strated an un­pre­ced­en­ted de­gree of co­oper­a­tion with the Con­gress on the is­sue of Benghazi,” the state­ment con­tin­ued. “Spe­cific­ally, in sup­port of the in­vest­ig­a­tion, the State De­part­ment has par­ti­cip­ated in nearly 50 con­gres­sion­al hear­ings and brief­ings for mem­bers and staff, shared more than 25,000 pages of doc­u­ments with com­mit­tees, and made State De­part­ment em­ploy­ees avail­able for in­ter­views with the House Over­sight com­mit­tee.”

The spokes­man re­it­er­ated that the facts sur­round­ing the Benghazi in­cid­ent were laid out to Con­gress and the pub­lic in the in­de­pend­ent Ac­count­ab­il­ity Re­view Board re­port, and that State is com­mit­ted to im­ple­ment­ing all 29 of the re­port’s re­com­mend­a­tions. “Our dip­lo­mats con­tin­ue to serve in dan­ger­ous places,” he con­tin­ued. “People at the State De­part­ment are will­ing to step up and put them­selves in harm’s way, and it is a dis­ser­vice to them to politi­cize this is­sue.”

Issa gave State a dead­line of Aug. 15.

Re­prin­ted with per­mis­sion from Gov­ern­ment Ex­ec­ut­ive. The ori­gin­al story can be found here.

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