By Julian Pecquet - 09/19/13 01:39 PM EDT
The leaders of the State Department audit into the attack in Benghazi, Libya, will testify Thursday that their report was not a cover-up.
The co-chairmen of the audit, former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Michael Mullen, are facing criticism from House Republicans who say their Accountability Review Board was too close to State Department leaders, including former secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Pickering and Mullen on Thursday will testify that their report was free of political bias.
“New information is always welcome,” Pickering said in prepared testimony for the House Oversight Committee. “I feel that this report is still on the mark, free of cover up and political tilt, and will personally welcome anything new which sheds light on what happened and that helps us to protect American lives and property in the future.”
Mullen says he would not have accepted the Benghazi assignment without being guaranteed full independence.
“We had unfettered access to State Department personnel and documents,” he wrote in prepared testimony. “There were no limitations.”
Family members of the four Americans killed in Benghazi will appear at the hearing on a second panel after Pickering and Mullen testify.
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