Benghazi: Background on Hillary Clinton’s Handpicked Accountability Review Board: The Unanswered Questions

Judicial Watch issued a report on findings on Benghazi from documents received through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). You may be familiar with many of the details below, but don’t miss the background on Thomas Pickering who headed the Accountability Review Board, and the Board’s Executive Secretary Uzra Zeya (see No. 4 below). A few of the links below are my addition to fill in some details of the JW report, which you can read in it’s entirety here.

Hillary Clinton Benghazi Testimony

Hillary Clinton Benghazi Testimony

1. What was first referred to as our Benghazi Consulate was actually a Special Mission Comp0und (SMC)

2. On September 11, 2012 at 9:40 pm, approximately 150 attackers invaded the SMC. Four Americans died. Requests to the Department of State were ignored and calls that night for help from slain Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty resulted in nothing.

3. Obama and his administration, including Hillary Clinton, immediately blamed the attack on the internet video. By September 28th the administration through the Office of the Director of National Intelligence admitted the attack was “neither spontaneous nor the result of an Internet video. The attack was officially determined to be “a deliberate and organized terrorist attack” carried out by extremists, including some members of al-Qaeda. In her Capitol Hill testimony, Hillary emotionally asked “what difference it makes” an Internet video or whatever, with four Americans dead? I’ve just explained the difference and and it does make a difference.


Here’s the rest of the story:

4. Hillary Clinton referred numerous time to the ARB, the Accountability Review Board when she testified (not sworn testimony, I believe – but I could be wrong) on Capitol Hill last week. The man leading the ARB investigation, if it can be called that, was handpicked by Clinton. Thomas Pickering was appointed to to the third ranking position in the State Department by Madeleine Albright, who was appointed by Bill Clinton. Pickering is a member of the advisory board of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) – left-leaning according to Judicial Watch…

that opposes the imposition of economic sanctions against Iran and that, in the estimation of national security expert Kenneth Timmerman, “has been lobbying Congress to win support for an agenda that mirrors the goals of the Tehran regime.”

In 2009, former FI counterterrorism agent Kenneth Piernick reported that the group “may be lobbying n behalf of Iranian government interests…

In her 2009 paper Rise of the Iran Lobby, published by the Center for Security Policy, former CIa officer clare Lopez wrote that “Ambassador Pickering’s positions on Iran include calls for bilateral talks without preconditions and a plan for a multinational uranium enrichment consortium in Iran.  

The man leading the investigation into Benghazi may be sympathetic to the Islamic interests of a rogue nation. Pickering holds the Foreign Service rank of Career Diplomat, the highest ranking possible and served as Ambassadors to India, Russia, Jordan, Israel, Nigeria, the UN, and El Salvadore.


Also on the ARB panel was Admiral Mike Mullen, Catherine Bertini appointed by Kofi Annan to UN Undersecretary for Management, Richard Shinnick, Interim Director of Overseas Building Operations, and Hugh Turner, a former Deputy CIA Director.

Uzra Zeya served as the Executive Secretary to the Board (yes, she was only the Secretary, but read on). She has served as Deputy Executive Secretaries to Hillary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice.Uzra Zeya is a staff member of the American Educational Trust specializing in Islamic affairs. This article by Zeya shows a mission to clear up unattractive images of the prophet Muhammad – things like the the Koran placing men above females. Not so according to Ms. Zeya. She also authored “How US Islamic Financial Institutions Provide Interest-Free Services.” She ‘produced’ this video (or something – it’s presented as Islam in America – by Uzra Zeya) of a pretty blonde California girl who converted to Islam, never leaves her home without being properly covered, and runs a school for Muslim children.

5. The following are among Admiral Mike Mullen’s remarks on the findings of the ARB:

The board found that the security posture at the Special Mission compound was inadequate for the threat environment in Benghazi, and in fact, grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place that night.

State Department bureaus that were supporting Benghazi had not taken on security as a shared responsibility, so the support the post needed was often lacking and left to the working level to resolve. The buildings at Special Mission Benghazi did not meet Department standards for office buildings in high-threat areas, and in a sense, fell through the cracks bureaucratically by being categorized as temporary residential facilities. While a number of physical security upgrades were done in 2012, at the time of the attacks the compound did not have all the security features and equipment it needed.

6. The bottom line from Mullen:

The board found that the attacks in Benghazi were security related, and responsibility for the loss of life, the injuries, and damage to U.S. facilities rests completely and solely with the terrorists who conducted the attacks. Read the entire transcript here.

7. Mullen mentions the “rotational staffing system” and the inadequacy of “the Diplomatic Security staffing. Perhaps he was talking about the 16-member team of the Department of Defense – a “Site Security Team (SST) in Tripoli until shortly before the Benghazi attack. Col. Andrew Woods commanded the team:

Wood and Eric Nordstrom, the Regional Security Officer, “implored” the State Department to keep Wood and the SST force in Libya beyond the scheduled August departure. Wood says he and Nordstrom DID NOT request ADDITIONAL security, but rather to keep the existing force in place.

Wood says his Team was only a small part of what the numbers planned to be withdrawn. The State Department’s Mobil Security Detachment (MSD), consisting of Ex-Green Berets, Ex-Navy SEALs were there when Wood arrived in Libya – three MSD teams already on the ground.

August 5, 2012: The State Department makes the decision to withdraw Wood’s SST. The MSD is being reduced. According to Wood, the State Department’s Charlene Lamb denied or ignored his requests to keep his SST in Libya. The withdrawal didn’t have anything to do with funding, according to Wood because his mission was funded by the Department of Defense. That claim was confirmed by Charlene Wood in a House Committee hearing.

August 14, 2012: Wood and his team leave Libya. Wood said at that time he expressed specific concerns for Benghazi.

September 10, 2012: Ambassador Chris Stevens arrived in Benghazi for a full day of meetings beginning on the morning of September 11, 2012. This was Stevens’ first time in Benghazi since Wood’s SST left Libya.

The team was paid for by the Department of Defense – no expense to the State Department.

9.  The JudicialWatch report details the serious security problems in Benghazi that are familiar to those who have followed the story: in April 2012 a bomb thrown over the wall of the SMC, an IED attack on a UN Special Envoy to Libya motorcade, the bombing of the Red Cross facility, an attack on the British Ambassador’s convoy causing the UK to shutdown their facility, and in June an IED attack on the SMC that blew a whole in the compound wall.

Nevertheless, the report found that “working level” persons in the State Department were solely responsible. You can’t make this stuff up.

10. JudicialWatch has not been able to get an answer to why the Special Mission Compound was opened in the first place, and by whom. The facility was designated as both a residence and office, which exempted it from “office facility standards and accountability.” Apparently that means there was reason to ignore proper levels of security.

11. According to the JudicialWatch report, the fact that the SMC was designated as a Special Mission was unusual, irregular “anomalous:”

Because the Benghazi mission appears to have been designated as “SMC” – something “anomalous amongst the Department’s inventory of approximately 285 embassies and consulates worldwide” — for the purpose of evading appropriate security protocols, the question of what State Department official authorized the leasing of the house to be utilized as the Compound is critically important.

12. Look at this. The lease was approved for a one year continuation in December 2011 by State Department Undersecretary of Management Patrick Kennedy, but the person responsible for leasing the unsecured house (the SMC) before the lease extension is not identified.

13. Another unanswered question is whether security professionals (you’ve heard Hillary say “security professionals” were responsible for handling and procuring security for the SMC) within the State Department protested the facility arrangements.

14. According to the JudicialWatch expert, Raymond Fournier, a recently retired Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent of more than 30 years experience, the State Department exhibits a long-standing “managerial arrogance” toward devaluing security policy and standards – see them as “inconvenient, restraining, time-consuming or simply less important relative to loftier foreign policy goals…

15. We have been told that the practice of contracting local militia for protection was standard, but the JudicialWatch report says that’s not so.

16. After various travel warnings issued for Americans traveling in Libya, the September 11th meeting is seen as odd, and the reason for deceased Ambassador Stevens’ meeting with Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin that night, just a few short hours (if that) before his death, is still not known. There has been speculation that Stevens was aiding in the transferring of Muammar Gaddafi’s weapons stash to “opposition in Syria,” which is believed to have al-Qaeda-linked relationships:

17. Former CIA Officer Clare Lopez has characterized US Activities in Benghazi as “gun running”…

18. No answer from the State Department as to why one unmanned aerial vehicle flew overhead during the attacks (confirmed by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM)), but real air power was not sent in from nearby bases.

Can we really expect a fair accounting of responsibility from Thomas Pickering who received his most prestigious job courtesy of Bill Clinton’s presidency? How much input did Uzra Zeya have as Executive Secretary. After all, she has worked for Hillary as an Executive Secretary in the State Department? As Senator Lindsey Graham said: Hillary Clinton “got away with murder.”

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  • This was clearly a CIA operation and they didn’t want more security that would draw attention to their activities. Why has no one asked about the 33 people who were rescued at the annex (three of whom were enjured) and taken to Germany. Who were they? What were their nationalities? Why has the media not been allowed to iterview them?

    • Jim at Asylum Watch, I know of one – the one who led Stevens and Smith out (he thought). That’s David Udden. He was gravel injured. I haven’t seen a word from anyone else, and I doubt we will while this President is in office. They survived so probably don’t want to risk their lives again by blowing the whistle.

  • montanaconserv

    Hillary has borrowed Bill’s teflon jacket… he doesn’t need it anymore…

  • Judy

    I keep wondering why the families have not spoken to the media since the election.
    This is a good video from Judge Jeanne Pirro on Hillary’s testifying
    And this one from Bill Whittle

    • Thanks for the links Judy. I’ll take a look. Pirro has been on a roll!