May 12, 2013

h/t Heather of VideoCafe

After the unquestionably tragic (but not entirely unprecedented) events in Benghazi, former ambassador Thomas Pickering was named to chair an accountability panel to investigate the event. Pickering is hardly someone who could be characterized as partisan, having served under presidents of both parties and in multiple "hot" zones, such as El Salvador, Israel and Russia. He has spent his more recent, post-retirement years focusing on national security for different think tanks. So he comes to the task with no political agenda, but an ongoing concern for the importance of the diplomatic corps and the safety and security of American interests in a decidedly bipartisan fashion.

Pickering's board findings are available to everyone online. In it, the board found systemic failures throughout the State Department and inadequate allowances for security. But what they did not find is any evidence of a conspiracy to cover up or politically spin the attack, or of an overt attempt to make or let the attack happen nor did they find then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally culpable for failures in the State Department. The fault lay, according to the report, with bureaucratic levels far below the Secretary level.

But Republicans never let facts get in the way of a good ol' witch hunt which has the double effect of keeping the sitting President on the defense as well as getting in some potentially fatal licks on the 2016 frontrunner. So Oversight Committee Chairman and Chief Witch Hunter Darrell Issa (R-CA) keeps droning on and on his conspiracy talking points to mouthpiece cypher David Gregory until Thomas Pickering can take it no longer.

After Issa asserted that Pickering had refused to testify in front of his committee, Pickering breaks his silence and off camera interrupts with a "That's not true." Watch Issa's face as the camera goes wide, revealing Pickering sitting right next to him. Pickering then reveals that he was told his testimony was 'not welcome', leaving Issa sputtering about protocols (how ironic!) and how the minority party could have called Pickering as a witness, proving once again that the goal is not fact finding, but a witch hunt.

Pickering will end up testifying in front of the committee this week. However, I don't think that Issa should feel confident that this will at all help his cause, as Pickering has been quite clear about his disgust about this politicking:

“Let me say that I hope the chairman has read our report,” the co-chairman of State Department Accountability Review Board on Benghazi aid on NBC's “Meet the Press.” “Our report has 29 recommendations. The bulk of them concern the insufficiency of the State Department's preparation of that post to deal with the security challenges. I don't think that there is any other explanation. And I can't believe that, in fact, he still sits here and makes those charges.”

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