While the rest of the media is reporting that the co-chairmen of the independent review on the Benghazi attacks, Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, have finally agreed to testify, in truth Pickering was not invited by Darell Issa (R-CA) to testify at the televised hearing. When called out on his lies on national TV, Issa finally tried to blame the White House for not inviting Pickering. Why wouldn’t Issa invite the co-chair of the independent review if he really wanted to get to the bottom of what happened?
I noted then that Issa was trying to force Pickering to testify when the cameras were done rolling on his Big Show, because Pickering wasn’t playing along with the Republican narrative on Benghazi.
Thursday, Tapper got yet another exclusive on Benghazi by publishing a letter from Pickering and Mullins to House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa, in which they demand to be allowed to testify and for the American public to hear their testimony. It reads in part:
“As has been made clear on television and in writing, we are willing to testify publicly before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee… The public deserves to hear your questions and our answers.
“Recently, you seem to have changed your position on our appearance, apparently asking for a transcribed interview behind closed doors. In our view, requiring such a closed-door proceeding before we testify publicly is an inappropriate precondition…. Moreover, … Ambassador Pickering did not agree to such a closed-door proceeding.
“Having taken liberal license to call into question the Board’s work, it is surprising that you now maintain that members of the committee need a closed-door proceeding before being able to ask “informed questions” at a public hearing.
“What the Committee is now proposing is highly unusual in the context of senior officials who are not fact witnesses but instead are reporting their own independent review.”
Read the full letter via CNN here.
On Meet the Press last Sunday, Issa tried to smear Pickering as refusing to testify, but things didn’t go so well for the Congressman. It turns out Pickering was waiting to speak on the show, and he denounced firmly the notion that he had been invited to speak. In fact, he said he was told he was not welcome by Republicans, who are the majority in the House wherein these Scadaliscious hearings took place:
REP. ISSA: Now, Ambassador Pickering, his people and he refused to come before our committee that…
AMB. THOMAS PICKERING (Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs/Chair, Accountability Review Board on Benghazi): That is not true.
GREGORY: All right. We’re- we’re going to get to Ambassador Pickering.
REP. ISSA: … We’re inviting him on Monday along with Admiral Mullen to come, to go through, with his papers, a private deposition so we can get the facts in a nonpartisan way.
AMB. PICKERING: Of course. I’ve said the day before the hearings, I was willing to appear to come to the very hearings that he disclu- he excluded me from. The White House told me back that he said…
REP. ISSA: One second. Please- please don’t tell me I excluded you.
AMB. PICKERING: Well, the- the majority was- we were told the majority said I was not welcomed at that hearing. I could come at some other time.
REP. ISSA: …He could have been the Democratic witness. And we would have allowed him. The Democrats requested no witness.The fact is, we don’t want to have some sort of a stage show… We’re inviting them on Monday. We’ll go through, not in front of the public but- but in a nonpartisan way questions and answers and then obviously…
So the real question here is what is Darrell Issa so afraid of? Why is he refusing to have the independent co-chair of the Benghazi review testify in public? Probably because Pickering told MSNBC, “I believe, in fact, the Accountability Review Board did its work well. I think the notion of, quote, a cover-up has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction attached to it.”
When will Darrell Issa initiate an investigation into just who leaked misleading emails on Benghazi to the press — emails that just so happened to match the Republican fictional account of a suggested cover up? I’ll bet Issa will get right on that. Issa’s claims of wanting to get to the “truth” don’t hold up, especially in light of his desire to hide the testimony of Pickering and Mullins from the public.
Image: Western Journalism
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.