Today, the Benghazi Accountability Review Board (ARB) co-chairmen Thomas Pickering and Admiral Mike Mullen testified in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). Below are some of the hearing’s best exchanges. If you’re pressed for time, scroll down to the bottom and watch the sheer awesomeness of Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the man who would make a great U.S. Attorney General. If you have the time, watch ’em all because by the time you get to Gowdy’s performance, it’ll make for quite the crescendo.
First up is Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) who confronts Mullen about the independence of the ARB, which was commissioned by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Jordan’s concern is that Mullen reached out to Clinton’s Chief Counsel Cheryl Mills to give her a “heads up” that Charlene Lamb – one of the State Department employees who was eventually re-assigned – might be a bad witness. Jordan’s concern here is that if Mullen is doing this, the ARB can’t be all that independent.
Mullen’s response was insufficient:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) then spoke with Mullen about the ARB and the response time (or lack thereof) of U.S. Forces. In this exchange, Mullen admits that NATO support was not sought during the attack despite Italy’s close proximity to the scene. Stay all the way to the end because Chaffetz rightfully presses Mullen quite hard:
Another excellent exchange comes courtesy of Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) who clearly demonstrated his skills as a former District Attorney. At the 2:00 mark, Meehan asked Pickering if he interviewed Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy and if there is a transcript of it. Amazingly, Pickering says there’s only “a record” of the interview (notes). To fully appreciate Meehan’s ability to best use his five minutes, you need to watch where he takes his line of questioning all the way to the end; it was masterful.
As expected, here is the home run of the day, smacked by clean-up hitter, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). Note how Gowdy points to the ARB’s claim that it’s main goal is to implement policies that will prevent future Benghazis. Gowdy then smacks Mullen with the ARB’s recommendations after the 1998 Kenya and Tanzania bombings. Those recommendations included Secretary of State involvement that obviously didn’t take place when it came to security in Benghazi. Gowdy then twists the knife when he demands to know why Hillary Clinton wasn’t interviewed by an ARB whose predecessor recommended Secretary of State involvement.
Mullen was face to face with a reality he didn’t appear all that willing to face: