— by Ben Armbruster
The co-chair of the State Department’s Accountability Review Board on the Benghazi terror attacks last year said on Wednesday criticized those claiming the Obama administration’s response to the attacks has the elements of some kind of Watergate-style cover-up.“I think the notion of a quote, cover up, has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction attached to it,” former Ambassador Thomas Pickering said on MSNBC. He also rebutted claims that the review board tried to protect former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from scrutiny:
PICKERING: I saw no evidence of it. She did publicly take responsibility for what happened below her and indeed one of the things the Congress did in preparing the legislation that established the Accountability Review Board was to say we don’t want a situation where heads of agencies take responsibility and then nobody who made the decision in the chain has to suffer any consequences for failure for performance. I believe in fact the Accountability Review Board did it’s work well. I think the notion of a quote, cover up, has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction attached to it.
Pickering wanted to testify at today’s House Oversight Committee hearings on the Benghazi attacks, which was billed as letting State Department officials expose an Obama administration cover-up of wrong-doing in handing the aftermath of the attacks. “I am willing to testify,” Pickering said. “I made that clear yesterday and the White House I understand made that clear to [Committee chair Rep. Darrell] Issa [R-CA]. He declined. I don’t know the reasons for that.” Pickering also countered claims that the military could have done more to respond to the attacks:
PICKERING: The aircraft at Aviano were 2 to 3 hours away but there were no refueling aircraft available. I think that speaks for itself. It has all along. I don’t see any contradiction. … There should be no controversy over that. Aircraft were there but they were not available in a time span that could have made any serious difference in connection with the issue.
Earlier on Wednesday, Republican Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) shot down his colleagues’ conspiracy theory laden claims about the Obama administration and Benghazi. “We need to know were these people culpable or not. If they were, why are they still on the payroll? Other than that, I’ve been able to read all the cables. I’ve seen the films,” Corker said. “I feel like I know what happened in Benghazi. I’m fairly satisfied.”
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