- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 9, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says she will testify in public before both House and Senate foreign relations committees about a State Department report into the deadly Sept. 11 anniversary terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Mrs. Clinton, in a statement Friday, ended speculation over whether she would testify in open or closed sessions before the committee about the findings of the State Department’s Accountability Review Board, which is investigating the attacks on the mission that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The review board has conducted its work in total secrecy, and its findings and recommendations are expected to draw heavily from classified intelligence about the attack. The report is expected to be released as soon as this week.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican and chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced Friday that Mrs. Clinton will testify in public, but gave no date for her appearance.

State Department officials have said the review board, headed by retired Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, plans to finish by mid-December.

Last month, Mr. Pickering, told The Washington Times that the board had “decided to keep its deliberations confidential to preserve the integrity and objectivity of its work, in accordance with the statute providing for its activity.”

Officials declined to provide any other information about the board — such as the size of its budget, the number of its staffers or a list of who has been interviewed.

The secrecy appears driven by a desire to shield the investigation from the partisan politics that have engulfed the aftermath of the Benghazi attack.

Republicans have demanded to know why officials in Washington turned down urgent requests for more security from U.S. diplomats in Libya. They have asked whether U.S. intelligence agencies failed to pay attention to warnings of possible attacks against American diplomatic targets and why no officials sent help to the doomed diplomats during the attack on the Benghazi compound, which lasted for seven hours.

Mrs. Clinton is expected to face tough questioning at her appearances on Capitol Hill.

“I look forward to discussing with the secretary what corrective measures has the [State] Department undertaken to address problems identified in the months following the Benghazi attack, including security of our posts, threat assessments, host-government responsibilities, and coordination with other U.S. security agencies,” said Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen.

Her committee has already held several hearings and classified briefings on the topic and continues to review State Department documents concerning the attack.

Guy Taylor contributed to this report.

• Shaun Waterman can be reached at swaterman@washingtontimes.com.

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