Rep. Issa subpoenas State Department for Benghazi documents

Congress's top inquisitor subpoenaed the State Department on Thursday for documents detailing the inner workings of the independent board that probed the September attack in Benghazi, Libya.

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Republicans on the House Oversight panel have accused the Accountability Review Board (ARB) of seeking to protect former Secretary of State and possible 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in its investigation, notably by declining to interview her.

Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said he subpoenaed the department because he was being stonewalled.

“After ignoring requests for months, the State Department has left no alternative but to issue subpoenas for documents relevant to our investigation,” said Issa. “State Department tactics to delay and impede accountability have exhausted the Committee’s patience. Further subpoenas may also be necessary if the Department is not forthcoming on other requests.”

"The State Department has worked in good faith to meet Chairman Issa's many demands, and his Committee has had daily access to 25,000 pages of documents since January," responded a spokesman for Secretary of State John Kerry, Alec Gerlach.

"For seven months, we've offered and provided access to specific documents at his request. I'm scratching my head trying to ascertain what practical value yet another Issa subpoena has in protecting our diplomats," he continued. "It's a jarring juxtaposition to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which just this morning overwhelmingly passed bi-partisan Embassy Security legislation.

The request demands access to:

• all documents provided by the Department of State to the Accountability Review Board;

• all documents and communications referring or relating to ARB interviews or meetings, including, but not limited to, notes or summaries prepared during and after any ARB interview or meeting; and

• all documents that have been made available to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for closed-door review.

The Accountability Review Board's co-authors, retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, said they concentrated their focus on the assistant secretary of State level because that's where they determined the key decisions were made.

Four State Department officials were disciplined after the ARB report faulted the department for security deficiencies, but no one was ever fired. 

Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in the terror attack on the U.S. mission last Sept. 11.

A majority of House Republicans are bucking their leadership by calling for a select committee to probe the attack, saying the committees of jurisdiction — including Issa's — don't have enough power.


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