By Julian Pecquet - 12/13/12 07:31 PM EST
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's much-anticipated congressional testimony on Benghazi next week could be delayed if the independent review of the events before and during the terrorist attack isn't ready in time, the State Department said.
The House and Senate Foreign Affairs panels have scheduled the secretary of State to brief them next Thursday, Dec. 20, before Congress breaks for Christmas. But State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday that the hearings presume that the bipartisan Accountability Review Board (ARB) will be finished with its report by then.
“The Hill has talked about a planning date on the calendar,” Nuland said at her daily briefing. “That presumes that the ARB is finished. I don't have any schedule of the secretary's to announce here.”
The ARB review will examine embassy security prior to the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, as well as the events that night. The review is led by former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and was expected to be completed by mid-December, but Nuland would not commit to that time frame earlier this week.
“When the secretary formed them [in early October], she asked them to try to meet a 60-65 day timeline,” Nuland said Monday. “And they pledged to try to do that, which would take you into the middle of December. I don’t have any reason to think that we are off base there, but obviously, we want them to do it, do it right.”