State Department review board on Benghazi attack works in secrecy

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If neutrality and accuracy are the goal, Mr. Crowley said, Mr. Pickering will put a premium on them.

The 81-year-old is among the most decorated U.S. diplomats. He served in Republican and Democratic administrations from 1974 through 1996, holding ambassadorships to Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, Jordan and the United Nations. From 1997 through 2000, he was undersecretary of state for political affairs.

“Tom Pickering is a veteran diplomat and will not be swayed by outside political forces,” said Mr. Crowley. “I’m confident he will be straight in his narrative of what happened and what needs to be done as a result because this is ultimately about finding that right balance where diplomats in post conflict situations can do their work and do it as securely as possible.”

Past review boards have tended to steer clear of politics, instead providing observations about the security of U.S. diplomats — observations that have tended to be ignored by lawmakers after the initial media frenzy over an attack has subsided.

The board that examined the 1998 terrorist bombings that killed 258 at the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania took about six months before making their findings public.

A January 1999 letter from officials who headed the board to then-Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright highlighted the “inadequacy of resources to provide security against terrorist attacks,” as well as the relatively “low priority accorded security concerns throughout the U.S. government.”

The letter preceded the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, by just more than two years.

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About the Author
Guy Taylor

Guy Taylor

Guy Taylor is the National Security Team Leader at The Washington Times, overseeing the paper’s State Department, Pentagon and intelligence community coverage. He’s also a frequent guest on The McLaughlin Group and C-SPAN.

His series on political, economic and security developments in Mexico won a 2012 Virginia Press Association award.

Prior to rejoining The Times in 2011, his work was ...

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