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Following the attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, convened, as required by law, an Accountability Review Board (ARB).   It was the 12th ARB to have been convened since the law was established.   The ARB submitted their report to her, and on December 18, 2013,  Hillary Clinton submitted the board’s classified and unclassified reports along with a cover letter to Congress while recovering from serious health issues at home.

Both documents were made available here at the time and remain available in the sidebar on the right.  In the wake of their publication, I posted sections of the report in small portions on Facebook.  Several friends thought that was a good way to make the information available.

Apparently in response to demands from the House Oversight and Reform Committee, the State Department Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently conducted a review of ARBs and issued that report this week.  Four former secretaries of state, including Hillary Clinton, were interviewed in the process of conducting this review.  As I have been reading through it I have found some items that deserve to be brought to the fore in light of criticisms that have been lodged against Hillary.

Since small portions appear effective, here are a few statements from the  Special Review of the Accountability Review Board Process (ISP-I-13-44A) that clarify some issues that some perhaps have not understood.

As for accusations that the ARB was somehow covering information to protect Secretary Clinton.

P 1 ¶ 1 The Accountability Review Board process operates as intended—independently and without bias—to identify vulnerabilities in the Department of State’s security programs.

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Then, of course there is the accusation that Hillary, herself, appointed board.

P 6 ¶ 1 ARB membership consists of five individuals. The Secretary names four members, and the Director of National Intelligence names the remaining member.

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Darrell Issa and his minions who have railed and roiled since the ARB did not interview Hillary Clinton.  Here is the record.  The emphasis is mine.

P 14 ¶ 6 None of the 12 ARBs interviewed the Secretary to ascertain her/his role in the events leading up to the incident under review. ARB members interviewed by the OIG team stated that after reviewing documentation, they did not find reason to interview the Secretary; rather, the ARBs focused their inquiries at the operational levels of the Department responsible for implementing and overseeing security policies and programs. ARB members were unanimous in saying that they felt empowered to interview anyone, including the Secretary, as the facts or events warranted.

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Hillary submitted the ARB reports, both classified and unclassified, and made the unclassified report public.   The day she testified before Congress it appeared that there were those (Republicans) in both houses who had not familiarized themselves with the contents of the reports.  This is  especially egregious negligence on their part since she was not required to submit the actual reports but did so nonetheless.  She, in fact,  went above and beyond the call of duty in providing the documents since all she was actually required to do was provide her own report to Congress based on these reports.  Instead, she sent them all of the information gathered by the ARB, something she did not have to do.

P 17  ¶ 1The Secretary has a legislated mandate to submit a report to Congress on each recommendation but is not required to forward to Congress a copy of the ARB report itself. The Department submitted the ARB reports on the Nairobi/Dar es Salaam and the Benghazi attacks to Congress in their entirety. Because the recommendations in these reports were so far-reaching and had such significant resource implications, the Secretary considered it important that the findings be shared with both houses of Congress. In the other 10 ARB investigations reviewed, the secretaries’ reports to Congress provided a summary of the key elements of the ARB report, transmitted the ARB’s recommendations for action, and informed Congress of the Department’s response to those recommendations. The OIG team’s review of the secretaries’ reports to Congress over the last 14 years indicated that they accurately conveyed the key elements of the ARB reports.

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Should I, as I continue reading the report,  find additional information to shed clear light and offer evidence of Hillary’s transparency on issues at the center of  the Tea Party Benghazi obsession, I will be certain to share them.

The bottom line, of course, is that Hillary followed the letter of the law and went beyond by providing the ARB report in two forms when that was not required.  She is above reproach in this review process while the Tea Party Republicans show no respect for law or order in this case or in their current attempts to bring the country to its knees over a law  (the Affordable Care Act) that, while not perfect, is helpful to many and thus good.   Instead of tweaking the imperfections of the law and improving what we have (their job), they would prefer to drive us to insolvency for purely partisan reasons.

Their war against Hillary and their strategy of pulling the emergency brake on the whole country because of a law they do not like although  the country re-elected the president who signed it are shameful and unconscionable.

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When Hillary Clinton accepted the prestigious American Bar Association Medal last month, she spoke out on the Supreme Court decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act and announced a series of policy speeches the next of which she will deliver in Philadelphia this coming Tuesday upon acceptance of the Liberty Medal from Jeb Bush.

Tea Partiers, of course, are in meltdown mode over the coincidence of this presentation with the upcoming anniversary of the attack on the outpost in Benghazi which, in the interim, has come to be known to have been a CIA operation (thanks to Jason Chaffetz’s public announcement on live TV).

The policy speeches Mme. Secretary has announced are to address transparency and national security.  In an op-ed, published in yesterday’s New York Times, Representative Alan Grayson also addressed these issues as they relate to the classified information available to members of Congress regarding the proposed attacks on Syria that President Obama has referred to Congress for approval.

Grayson has some issues with the available data and documentation to back up an attack on Syria that he addresses in this article.  Most interestingly,   he compares that availability with the documents Hillary Clinton’s State Department provided on Benghazi.

Grayson in the NY Times on Syria Intel: “Trust, But Verify”


On Syria, “Trust, but Verify”

This op-ed written by Congressman Alan Grayson appeared in The New York Times today. Read it, share it with your friends and family, and join more than 75,000 others who oppose U.S. military intervention in Syria by signing on at DontAttackSyria.com.

WASHINGTON — THE documentary record regarding an attack on Syria consists of just two papers: a four-page unclassified summary and a 12-page classified summary. The first enumerates only the evidence in favor of an attack. I’m not allowed to tell you what’s in the classified summary, but you can draw your own conclusion.

On Thursday I asked the House Intelligence Committee staff whether there was any other documentation available, classified or unclassified. Their answer was “no.”

The Syria chemical weapons summaries are based on several hundred underlying elements of intelligence information. The unclassified summary cites intercepted telephone calls, “social media” postings and the like, but not one of these is actually quoted or attached — not even clips from YouTube. (As to whether the classified summary is the same, I couldn’t possibly comment, but again, draw your own conclusion.)

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Compare this lack of transparency with the administration’s treatment of the Benghazi attack. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, to her credit, made every single relevant classified e-mail, cable and intelligence report available to every member of Congress. (I know this, because I read them all.) Secretary Clinton had nothing to hide.

Her successor, John Kerry, has said repeatedly that this administration isn’t trying to manipulate the intelligence reports the way that the Bush administration did to rationalize its invasion of Iraq.

But by refusing to disclose the underlying data even to members of Congress, the administration is making it impossible for anyone to judge, independently, whether that statement is correct. Perhaps the edict of an earlier administration applies: “Trust, but verify.”
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Most ironic is the statement of sources of the intel – sources that are being withheld.   Social media is cited.  Last October, in the wake of the Benghazi attack,  there was a great deal of hand-wringing over the issue of some leaked emails that Hillary Clinton addressed directly.

Hillary Clinton, those emails, and the truth

In the dust up around the leaked emails and among the events of her busy day, Hillary Clinton made the following remarks regarding the emails and the attack on the Benghazi consulate in a press availability today.

Now finally, on Benghazi, look, I’ve said it and I’ll say it one more time. No one wants to find out what happened more than I do. We are holding ourselves accountable to the American people, because not only they, but our brave diplomats and development experts serving in dangerous places around the world, deserve no less. The independent Accountability Review Board is already hard at work looking at everything – not cherry-picking one story here or one document there – but looking at everything, which I highly recommend as the appropriate approach to something as complex as an attack like this.

Posting something on Facebook is not in and of itself evidence, and I think it just underscores how fluid the reporting was at the time and continued for some time to be. What I keep in mind is that four brave Americans were killed, and we will find out what happened, we will take whatever measures are necessary to fix anything that needs to be fixed, and we will bring those to justice who committed these murders. And I think that that is what we have said, that is what we are doing, and I’m very confident that we will achieve those goals.

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There are two major takeaways here: 1) Attestation from a member of Congress, who is in a position to make the comparison,  that Hillary Clinton provided Congress with every scrap of relevant documentation on Benghazi all of which he read. 2) Hillary Clinton does not consider postings on social media to be evidence – in her own words.

Thank you, Representative Grayson, for defending our girl prior to a week that is guaranteed, on every front, to be hell on wheels, and thank you and our Hillary for your dedicated service.  It is satisfying to know that some members of Congress read everything she sent since, during her testimony in January,  she was obliged regularly to refer some members to the ARB Report that they seemed to have neglected to read.   The unclassified ARB report is available in the sidebar on the right for anyone who would like to see it.

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Hillary paid tribute to her former Senate colleague,  Frank Lautenberg,  at the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City today.

 

Hillary’s remarks.

 

Full funeral.

 

Political elite attend U.S. Senator Lautenberg’s funeral

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, whose death has sparked a battle over his seat in the Senate, was remembered at his funeral on Wednesday as a tenacious fighter who battled tirelessly for the causes he championed.

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Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recalled that Lautenberg fought for veterans, victims of HIV and AIDS, families trying to keep their children safe from toxic chemicals and “stood proudly with the working people of New Jersey trying to provide for their families, to build businesses like Frank and his two friends had, to pursue the American dream.

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We older dudes and dudesses remember a time before Congress reset all national holidays except Independence Day to the nearest Monday to the traditional date.  Originally, Memorial Day was May 31.  Somehow it is fitting that the bookends for this week include this particular dudess finally being face to face and hand in hand with Hillary Clinton ( while being featured in Inside Chappaqua Magazine) and the fifth anniversary of the infamous meeting of the Democratic Party Rules and Bylaws Committee that reassigned and partitioned delegates Hillary had won in the 2008 primaries effectively disenfranchising primary voters in two states and handing the nomination to Barack Obama.

Two movements came to life that summer although only one remains in the spotlight.  Angry Democrats from all over the country carried signs imploring the RBC to “Count Every Vote” and countered  the intended appearance of party unity with cries of “party unity my a**.”

The PUMA movement arrived yelling and screaming as most newborns do.  On the other side of the political spectrum, a reaction brought an embryonic coalition into existence.  In the days of Barry Goldwater, many young people read his Conscience of a Conservative and argued politics  in essay assignments for school and over cafeteria lunches.  A word seldom heard anymore was one we commonly used then, reactionary.

By late summer 2008, in the wake of the Democratic National Convention where a shameful, scripted,  televised imitation of a roll call vote ended when the winner of the party’s popular vote was escorted onto the convention floor and called for the unanimous nomination of the candidate who had garnered and been gifted with a few more delegates, the other baby of the summer was coming to term.  Activist women, some angry that Barack Obama had bypassed his very well-qualified female former rival for the Veep spot – in fact would not even speak with them on the topic –  headed to the Republican Convention to have a word with their nominee, John McCain.

If you read the book, or better yet saw the movie Game Change, you know what happened next.  Sarah Palin, of shooting wolves from helicopters fame,  was drafted to the ticket in the Veep spot. By September 2008. PUMA talks shows on Blog Talk Radio and PUMA blogs began being invaded by people speaking of FEMA camps, coffins stacked stories high, blue helmets, black helicopters, and a private army while the Republican VP nominee made speeches about the Democratic nominee paling around with radicals.

There is no doubt that elements of the Tea Party were drawn from the ranks of the PUMAs.  Five years later, some who were diehard Hillary Clinton supporters have indeed turned hard against her as those early Tea Party infiltrators tried to convince us to do.  But the PUMAs have remained cohesive via Facebook groups and blogs.  We may not receive the publicity the Tea Party does.   We do not seek it,  but we are still together.  If /when our Hillary wants us, this solid core of her loyalists are already organized around her.  We have stuck by her over these six years since she so appealingly began the conversation with us.  We stayed beside her when she was robbed of her delegates, and we celebrate our anniversary together while our girl, as yet having made no commitment to a second run for the roses, continues to top the polls.

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A new Quinnipiac poll out today pits her against two dynastic possible rivals,  Jeb Bush, of the more traditional Republican brand, and Rand Paul, darling of the reactionary firebrand variety that has  overtaken the party and left Congress in paralysis.  While she remains in the shade, setting up her office within the family foundation, her appeal and charisma continue to keep her in the news.
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May 31, 2013 – American Voters Like Clinton Over Paul, Jeb Bush, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds;
PDF formatIn an early look at the 2016 presidential campaign, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky 49 – 41 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush 48 – 40 percent, but Vice President Joseph Biden trails Bush 44 – 38 percent and falls behind Paul 43 – 39 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
Ms. Clinton gets a 52 – 40 percent favorability rating, down from an all-time high 61 – 34 percent in a February 8 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. Favorability ratings for other possible 2016 presidential contenders are:
  • Biden: Negative 37 – 44 percent;
  • Paul: Positive 32 – 24 percent, with 42 percent who don’t know enough about him to form an opinion;
  • Bush: 29 – 29 percent, with 42 percent who haven’t formed an opinion.

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“Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remains the queen of the 2016 hill at this point, but the wide gap between her and some of the leading Republican contenders on favorability may be closing, as her overall favorability has taken a hit,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
“Her score is down substantially from her all-time high score in February. The drop in her favorability is substantial among men, Republicans and independent voters. One reason for her drop may be that 48 percent of voters blame her either a little or a lot for the death of the American ambassador in Benghazi,” Brown added.
In the hypothetical race between Clinton and Jeb Bush, she carries Democrats 92 – 3 percent, but loses Republicans 82 – 8 percent and splits independent voters 42 – 43 percent. She wins women 55 – 35 percent, but loses men 45 – 40 percent.
Clinton gets a 91 – 4 percent favorability among Democrats and a 46 – 42 percent favorability from independent voters, with a negative 18 – 77 percent favorability from Republicans. Women are favorable 59 – 32 percent, while men are negative 44 – 50 percent.
In February, she was 91 – 5 percent favorable among Democrats, negative 27 – 68 percent among Republicans and 59 – 35 percent positive among independents. She was 53 – 42 favorable among men and 68 – 27 percent favorable among women.
“If Ms. Clinton chooses not to run in 2016, the potential Democratic field could include a somewhat unpopular vice president and a number of new faces who are unknown to the vast majority of Americans,” said Brown. “The potential Republican candidates include many unknowns also. Some of them, however, lead the incumbent vice president and outscore him when it comes to overall voter favorability.”Read more >>>>

For those of us who remember this day in history, Hillary is the glue.  She is the magnet that drew us together and keeps us tight.  We have stayed with the girl we took to the dance in 2008 even though the party tore up our prom tickets.

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During today’s press briefing, Victoria Nuland deferred to the Congressional committees to announce the schedules for Secretary Clinton’s testimony on Benghazi and offered some insight as to what her testimony will include. In addition, she provided a peek at some of Mme. Secretary’s bilaterals this week.  Here is a snip of the transcript.

01-09-13-Z-01

QUESTION: Do you have any update on when the Secretary might testify? And could you also tell us how her preparation is going, what she’s doing to prepare for that testimony on Capitol Hill?

MS. NULAND: Well, with regard to the consultations that we’ve had with the Congress on the timing, I’m going to defer to the two committees to announce the hearings when they’re ready to do so. But we did talk about these happening after both houses come back into session next week. So we will defer to them on any formal announcements.

Secretary is doing what she always does. She is going through all the steps that this Department is taking to implement the recommendations of the Accountability Review Board. I think you’re aware that – well, first and foremost, as you know, she’s made a commitment that all 29 recommendations will be implemented and that the implementation should be well in train before she finishes here. So I think she’ll want to update the committees on implementation.

As you know, Deputy Secretary Nides is leading an implementation process here in the building. I think he’s having his 11th meeting with the various stakeholders this week to get that work – as many of the short-term recommendations completed as possible, the medium-term ones well underway, and the longer-term ones well set up. So I think you’ll hear a good accounting from her on all those things when she testifies.

QUESTION: And this is an important week because it’s the week before the inauguration. I think you were mentioning that perhaps we might see some meetings that she would have with foreign visitors. Can you – is there any schedule information that you can share with us at this point about what the Secretary will do this week?

MS. NULAND: I think we did put out some scheduled things over the course of the week.

QUESTION: Yeah, you did, but I mean anything –

MS. NULAND: She’s going to see Ellen Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia tomorrow. She’s also seeing her Colombian counterpart. I think that one is tomorrow as well. As we said, the Somali President will be here on Thursday. We’ve already announced the visit of the new Foreign Minister – Foreign Secretary of Japan – Mr. Kishida will be here on Friday. So it’s a busy diplomatic week.

QUESTION: So these would be more – let’s call them working on the relationship issues in the relationship, as opposed to farewell, right?

MS. NULAND: Oh, all of these are working visits of foreign ministers or heads of state continuing the bilateral and regional work that we do together, yes.

Edited to add:

Apparently Congress was willing to accommodate the State Department by not waiting to be back in session.  CNN’s Jill Dougherty just posted this on Facebook.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify before the Committee on Wednesday, January 23 to answer questions about the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. In the attack, terrorists killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty.

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At today’s press briefing, Victoria Nuland reported that the date for Mme. Secretary’s visit to Capitol Hill has yet to be set.

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QUESTION: Can I ask you about Benghazi – excuse me – the Secretary’s testimony? There was a date floated out yesterday by Senator Corker. I think it was January 22nd, if I’m correct. Has that been confirmed?

MS. NULAND: It is not yet. We are continuing to work with both the House and the Senate. As I said, we can’t do it before that week, obviously, because they are out of session. But we have to – we have not yet closed with the committees on the precise date.

QUESTION: But you could do the House the week earlier? Do you anticipate it would be the same day?

MS. NULAND: Yeah, I mean –

QUESTION: Like how it usually is?

MS. NULAND: Yeah, that she would go up once, she would do the House and the Senate is usually the way we do it. Yeah.

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12-06-12-S-03

These are pdfs so I can only link to them.

Here is the cover letter.  Here is the unclassified ARB Report.

I just read the letter.  It is brilliant.  It should stand as yet another extraordinary response to an existing problem in the same vein as her 1000 Days and clean cookstove efforts.  What she has managed to do here is agree with the ARB’s findings and involve the Congressional committees in the effort to address them at every turn.  So while she is saying that there were weaknesses, she is also saying that she has already initiated steps to address them that can succeed only if Congress cooperates.  I like to read documents myself rather than have media interpret them for me.  This letter is a masterpiece from the best secretary of state I have seen in my life.  It is a must read!

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