Pickering Defends Decision Not to Interview Hillary for ARB Report
By Eliana Johnson —
May 12, 2013
Co-chairman of the Accountability Review Board Thomas Pickering defended his decision not to interview former secretary of state Hillary Clinton during his team’s investigation of the Benghazi attacks, arguing that key decisions both in the months preceding last year’s attack and on the night itself did not involve the secretary of state, but were made at lower echelons of the department.
“The decisions were made and reviewed at the level that we fixed responsibility for failures of performance,” Pickering told CBS’ Bob Schieffer, adding, ”I believe that that’s correct.” According to Pickering, he and his colleagues had ample opportunity to interview Secretary Clinton, but concluded that conducting an interview with her was not necessary. “We knew where the responsibility rested,” he said.
Asked whether, in retrospect, he believes it may have been prudent to do so, Pickering said he does not.
The ARB’s report, which is itself now the subject of an investigation by the State Department’s Office of Inspector General, found ”systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels” in the State Department. Critics have accused the panel of covering for the administration. Now under investigation: whether the ARB failed to interview key witnesses who asked to provide their accounts of the terrorist attack. The State Department continues to stand by the report.