Clinton, Nuland Responses Raise Question of Obama Stonewalling Congress on Benghazi
October 3, 2012 • 11:53PM

House Oversight chairman Darrell Issa's interview statement that the State Department ignored an unpublicized Sept. 20 letter from his committtee for 12 days, and White House spokesman Jay Carney's complete refusal on Oct. 2 to answer questions about the Benghazi attacks, focussed attention on how the Obama State Department reacted to Issa's Oct. 2 bombshell publication of his report and letter to Secretary of State Clinton. Those responses suggest Obama may continue to try to stonewall this most damning issue until after Election Day.

There were discrepancies between Secretary Clinton's and spokeswoman Nuland's responses to the Issa/Chaffitz letter, regarding the Committee's planned Oct. 10 hearing, for which it asked for both administration witnesses and documents.

Clinton wrote to Issa Tuesday afternoon, "to pledge the State Department's full cooperation with Congress.... I appreciate that you and your committee are deeply interested in finding out what happened leading up to and during the attacks in Benghazi, and are looking for ways to prevent it from happening again. I share that commitment." But Clinton's letter does not promise witnesses for the Oct. 10 hearing, merely implying that requests for witnesses will be considered. It says says she will provide answers to Congress's questions based on the results of the State Deptartment's Accountability Review Board (ARB, or "Pickering") investigation, expected well after Election Day, and perhaps next year. And Clinton asked Issa to "withhold any final conclusions" until the ARB report is completed.

Nuland, however, pressed by journalists for first 20 minutes of the Oct. 2 State Department briefing, did, at least twice, say that Clinton's letter would promise witnesses for Oct. 10. Nuland also appeared to commit that the witnesses would not cite the FBI investigation to refuse to answer, as Clinton did in the previous Congressional hearing on the Benghazi murders. "I think we believe that we will have to work these processes in parallel", Nuland said. "We have responsibilities to Congress; there's the FBI investigation; and there's the ARB investigation."

Although refusing to answer questions about the content of the Issa/Chaffitz letter, Nuland made one important exception. She ruled out that the murdered Ambassador Christopher Stevens himself may have populistically "called for" the light-to-no security at the Benghazi Consulate. "Ambassadors don't call the local security posture," Nuland said. "It's worked out with Washington."

Another ball in Obama's court.