Right-wing media are falsely claiming that a State Department Inspector General review is linked to dubious allegations that State ignored "whistleblowers" during an independent review of attacks on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, the routine investigation was planned before the State Department's Accountability Review Board released its findings, has nothing to do with "whistleblower" allegations, and will investigate decades of State actions.
Inspector General To Review State Dept's Independent Benghazi Panel's Report
The Hill: "The State Department's Office Of Inspector General Will Review The Internal Audit On The Benghazi Attack That Cleared Top Officials." The Hill's Global Affairs blog reported that the State Department's Office of Inspector General (IG) will review the internal audit that State's Accountability Review Board (ARB) conducted following the September 11, 2012 attacks on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya:
The State Department's Office of Inspector General will review the internal audit on the Benghazi attack that cleared top officials, including then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, of wrongdoing, The Hill has confirmed.
The IG's office notified the State Department on March 28 that it will be conducting a "special review" of the process that the department's Accountability Review Board (ARB) used to probe security lapses prior to and during the terrorist attack, Fox News first reported. The board issued a report in December that identified "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies" but did not recommend anybody be fired because it "did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty." [The Hill, Global Affairs, 5/2/13]
Right-Wing Media Falsely Link Inspector General Investigation To Benghazi "Whistleblowers"
Fox Has Hyped The Notion That The Obama Administration Threatened Supposed Whistleblowers. Fox News trumpeted the claims of discredited Republican lawyers Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, who said that they are representing "whistleblowers" who allegedly witnessed the Benghazi attacks. The lawyers claimed the witnesses had been threatened by administration officials to prevent their testimony. [Media Matters, 4/30/13]
Fox's Clayton Morris: Inspector General Investigation Is To See Whether Or Not Witnesses "Were Told To Keep Quiet." During Fox & Friends, guest co-host Clayton Morris linked the Inspector General's review of the Accountability Review Board to its investigation into the State Department's culpability in the Benghazi attack saying that the IG is seeing whether or not "witnesses were told to keep quiet" by the ARB:
MORRIS: Let's turn our attention this morning to another big bombshell, and that is of course the Benghazi attacks. And you remember that State Department review that came out a number of months ago, which basically cleared Hillary Clinton, but it looked like people underneath Hillary Clinton were to blame for some of the mismanagement and not getting the assets there on time. But now there is another investigation, an Inspector General's report looking at this State Department review. Another bureaucracy looking at bureaucracy, because were key witnesses basically told to keep quiet? To not come forward? Were their testimony ignored in that State Department review? Maybe 10, maybe 20 individuals were told to keep quiet, we don't want to hear it. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/3/13]
Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin: State Investigation Of The Benghazi Investigators Is "Unprecedented." In a May 3 blog post, Washington Post Right Turn blogger Jennifer Rubin claimed that the State Department Inspector General is investigating the Benghazi Accountability Review Board because witnesses were ignored, citing Fox News and The Hill reporting. She further claimed that the investigation was unprecedented, citing an email from Fox News contributor John Bolton who wrote that he's "never heard of an IG investigating an ARB," and speculated that the mainstream media will likely ignore the IG's investigation. [The Washington Post, Right Turn, 5/3/13]
Hot Air: "State Department's Benghazi Review Panel Now Under Investigation." A May 2 post on the conservative blog Hot Air claimed that the State Department IG is investigating claims that the Obama administration tried to suppress witnesses who want to speak out about the Benghazi attack:
Congress is getting ready for more hearings on Benghazi with self-proclaimed whistleblowers, which House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa has suggested will "expose new facts" that the Obama administration has deliberately "tried to suppress." So... does that mean that the ARB panel perhaps conspicuously neglected to interview some of those key witnesses? The State Department's Office of Inspector General is investigating just that. [Hot Air, 5/2/13]
Inspector General's Routine Review Has Nothing To Do With Allegation That "Whistleblowers" Were Not Interviewed
CNN.com: IG's Investigation Is Routine And Has Nothing To Do With Claim That Witnesses Were Not Interviewed. A May 2 CNN.com Political Ticker blog post quoted State IG spokesperson Doug Welty, who explained that the IG's investigation was not related to claims that "key witnesses were not interviewed" and that the review of the Accountability Review Board's Benghazi report is routine:
The office of the State Department's inspector general is doing a special review of the "effectiveness and accountability" of the Accountability Review Board (ARB) process, according to Doug Welty, a spokesman for the IG's office.
Along with reviewing the board in general, the inspector general will do a subsequent audit of the board's investigation of the deadly Benghazi attack, which is done as a matter of course after every probe.
The attack last September 11 killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The Obama administration handling of security at the facility and its post-attack response have come under close Republican scrutiny.
Welty said neither the special review of the ARB process, nor the individual Benghazi audit, are tied to recent reports that certain key witnesses were not interviewed. [CNN.com 5/2/13]
Inspector General Planned To Investigate Accountability Review Board's Work In October 2012, Before The Board's Independent Review Concluded. A November 1 blog post by Josh Rogin, a national security reporter for Foreign Policy's The Cable, reported on a letter from the State Department's Inspector General's office -- dated October 26, 2012 -- that announced plans to investigate the Benghazi Accountability Review Board report. The letter also stated that the Inspector General's office regularly reviews State Department security procedures, and specifically mentioned an Accountability Review Board report from a December 2004 terrorist attack on a different diplomatic facility. From the letter:
The scope of our work for our office of Inspection (ISP) in the year ahead includes plans to inspect the Bureau of Intelligence and Research this winter and will be attentive to how credible threat information is coordinated within the Department and expeditiously shared with overseas diplomatic missions. Inspectors will monitor the implementation of any recommendations from the Benghazi Accountability Review Board (ARB) report and will review them as future inspections are conducted. [State Department Office of the Inspector General, 10/26/12, via Foreign Policy's The Cable]
Fox News' James Rosen: State Says IG To Investigate Decades Worth Of ARB Reviews. In a May 2 post on FoxNews.com, Fox's chief Washington correspondent James Rosen quoted State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell who said that claiming the IG is investigating the Accountability Review Board for allegations that it failed to interview witnesses is "simply false":
State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell disputed the characterization of the review, saying it is "simply false" to assert the panel is being investigated.
"Rather, it is conducting a review of the ARB process itself going back two decades, looking at how Boards are convened, their standards, and the implementation of ARB recommendations," he said. [FoxNews.com, 5/2/13]