What Bob Woodward May Not Know About “Neutral” Benghazi Investigations

The Washington Post's Bob Woodward suggested that a “neutral” investigation of the Benghazi attacks could be appropriate to “see if there is new information,” ignoring the neutral, nonpartisan Accountability Review Board investigation which has already issued twenty-nine foreign security recommendations that the State Department is continuing to implement.

Woodward: “Neutral Inquiry” Into Benghazi Could Be Appropriate 

Bob Woodward: “Neutral Inquiry” Could Be Warranted To “See If There Is New Information” On Benghazi. During a June 1 discussion about Republican responses to the release of an excerpt from Hillary Clinton's new memoir on Fox News Sunday, Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward suggested that a “neutral inquiry” could be appropriate on Benghazi:

WOODWARD: Yeah, I mean, they may be overdoing it, and also Hillary Clinton may be overdoing it. This is an awful lot very, very early. The question I ask, as you hear the Republican critique and her defense, it's kind of a standoff at this point, particularly in Benghazi. The issue is, is there new information out there? And one of the questions I have, and I think there are serious unanswered questions about this, did she keep a diary? When I talked to President Obama, he confirmed that he keeps a diary. I asked for some of the work I was doing and he said no, it wouldn't be relevant. But are there diaries? Remember, go back to the 1980s in Iran Contra, Ronald Reagan kept a very detailed diary and he finally turned it over.

WALLACE: Do you think that part, Bob, of the Republican game here is, to the degree that there's any question whether Hillary Clinton is going to run, 'let's just rough her up as much as we can now to say this is going to be tough?'

WOODWARD: Yeah, and they're making it political and it is political. But then, her response and Obama's response on some of these issues is 'oh people are playing partisan politics if they criticize me.' True, in many cases. But there are facts, there is neutral inquiry, and there's a way to look at this and get that information and see if there is new information. If there's not new information, this is a standoff. And few people are going to be going into the voting booth if she runs in 2016 and vote for or against Benghazi. [Fox Broadcasting, Fox News Sunday, 6/1/14

The Accountability Review Board (ARB) Was An Unbiased, Independent Investigation

AP: Accountability Review Board Investigation Examined “Thousands Of Pages And Cables” In 2012, the Associated Press (AP) reported the Accountability Review Board (ARB) was an “independent panel charged with investigating the deadly Sept. 11 attack in Libya that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.” It went on: 

Retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering and a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, led the independent review, studying thousands of pages of cables and other documents, hours of video and intelligence and interviewing more than 100 people, including survivors. They will testify before the House and Senate foreign affairs committees behind closed doors on Wednesday. [Associated Press, 12/18/12]

Inspector General: Accountability Review Board Process Operated “Independently And Without Bias.” The State Department Office of the Inspector General (IG) issued the results of its investigation of the Benghazi Accountability Review Board (ARB), which investigated State Department security procedures after Benghazi and the State Department's implementation of the ARB investigation's recommendations. It found that the investigation operated “independently and without bias”:

The Accountability Review Board process operates as intended--independently and without bias--to identify vulnerabilities in the Department of State's security programs. [United States Department Of State Office Of Inspector General, September 2013]

ARB Investigated 100 Individuals, Thousands Of Documents, Hours Of Video Footage

ARB: “The Board Interviewed 100 Individuals, Reviewed Thousands Of Pages Of Documents, And Viewed Hours Of Footage.” The New York Times posted the unclassified version of the ARB report, which detailed its process and findings:

Through the course of its inquiry, the Board interviewed over 100 individuals, reviewed thousands of pages of documents, and viewed hours of video footage. On the basis of its comprehensive review of this information, the Board remains fully convinced that responsibility for the tragic loss of life, injuries, and damage to U.S. facilities and property rests solely and completely with the terrorists who perpetrated the attack. [The New York Times, 12/18/14]

U.S State Department “Wasted No Time” In Implementing ARB Recommendations

U.S. State Department: The ARB Issued 29 Recommendations To the State Department. On January 15, the U.S. State Department released a reporting confirming that the ARB had “issued 29 recommendations” to the State Department, and that the department had accepted “each of the ARB's recommendations and is committed to implementing them.” [United States Department of State, 1/15/14]

IG Report: State Department “Wasted No Time Addressing The Recommendations Of The Benghazi ARB.” According to the September 2013 Inspector General's report, the State Department “wasted no time addressing the recommendations of the Benghazi ARB”:

The Department wasted no time addressing the recommendations of the Benghazi ARB. It enlisted numerous bureaus and offices to assist in developing plans for implementation. It formed working groups and committees, established panels of experts, and convened special review boards. Senior Department leadership has been involved through information memos, action memos, and the chairing of review committees. In seeking to fulfill the ARB recommendations, the Department issued instructional and guidance cables, made changes to the FAM and Foreign Affairs Handbook (FAH), and modified position descriptions and organizational structures. [United States Department Of State Office Of Inspector General, September 2013]

IG Report Praised State Department Implementation Of ARB Recommendations. The report praised the personal involvement of Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry as “a model for how the Department should handle future ARB recommendations”:

The Department's handling of the Benghazi ARB recommendations represents a significant departure from the previous norm in that Secretary Clinton took charge directly of oversight for the implementation process. She designated the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources as the coordinator for implementation with strict guidelines for a reporting schedule. Initially, the Deputy Secretary held weekly meetings with under secretaries and assistant secretaries to track implementation. Implementation continues, albeit on a less regular schedule now that many of the recommendations have been addressed.

This high-level oversight of the Benghazi ARB implementation process has been sustained through the transition from Secretary Clinton to Secretary Kerry. This level of attention from both secretaries and their senior staffs is a reflection of their personal concern in this matter and the unique scope of the Benghazi ARB recommendations. Approximately 90 percent of the recommendations (26 of 29) in the Benghazi report focused on systemic management reforms.


High-level leadership has been critical in driving and sustaining implementation of the Benghazi ARB recommendations, and this approach establishes a model for how the Department should handle future ARB recommendations. [United States Department Of State Office Of Inspector General, September 2013]