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.
What We're Following See More »
Congress will need to vote on Donald Trump's pick of Lt. General H.R. McMaster to be his next national security adviser, but not for the reason you think. The position of NSA doesn't require Senate approval, but since McMaster currently holds a three-star military position, Congress will need to vote to allow him to keep his position instead of forcing him to drop one star and become a Major General, which could potentially affect his pension.
"The Senate Intelligence Committee is seeking to ensure that records related to Russia’s alleged intervention in the 2016 U.S. elections are preserved as it begins investigating that country’s ties to the Trump team. The panel sent more than a dozen letters to 'organizations, agencies and officials' on Friday, asking them to preserve materials related to the congressional investigation, according to a Senate aide, who was not authorized to comment publicly. The Senate Intelligence Committee is spearheading the most comprehensive probe on Capitol Hill of Russia’s alleged activities in the elections."
Retired Russian diplomats and members of Vladimir Putin's staff are compiling a dossier "on Donald Trump's psychological makeup" for the Russian leader. "Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser."