Chairman Royce Introduces Legislation to Strengthen Investigations into Breaches in Embassy Security

Apr 26, 2013

State Department’s Accountability Review Board Cited by Then-Secretary Clinton During Her Benghazi Testimony

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced legislation to increase the independence and transparency of future Accountability Review Boards (ARB), the temporary investigative bodies that are  convened to  review security-related incidents, such as the deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

The “Accountability Review Board Reform Act of 2013” (H.R. 1768) will increase the independence of future ARBs from the State Department, limiting the Secretary of State’s role.

Royce said:  “When then-Secretary of State Clinton testified about the Benghazi attack in January, she repeatedly referred to the ARB findings, calling it an ‘independent’ investigative body.  But the fact is, Secretary Clinton convened the ARB  and hand-picked four of its five members.  This ARB failed to assess the roles of so-called “seventh floor” State Department officials in the decisions that led to the Benghazi mission’s severely compromised security posture, despite strong evidence suggesting these senior officials were involved.  This legislation will ensure that future ARBs are, in fact, independent of State Department leadership.

“The Committee continues its examination of the deadly Benghazi terrorist attacks so we can ensure that the bureaucratic failures that left State Department personnel vulnerable are not repeated.  The Committee will continue to review the responsibility of senior State Department officials for the failure to provide proper security prior to the Benghazi attacks; needed improvements in embassy security; and the State Department’s alertness to the overall political climate and resulting terrorist threats in high-risk environments.”      

The Accountability Review Board Reform Act:

  • increases the five-member ARB’s independence from the State Department.  Under current law, the Secretary of State appoints four of an ARB’s five members.  Under this legislation, the Secretary will appoint only two of the five members, with the Chair of the Council of Inspectors General of Integrity and Efficiency (the chief U.S. inspector general) appointing two members, and the Director of National Intelligence appointing the fifth member. 
  • improves the staffing model of future ARBs.  Currently, an ARB relies on State Department employees to assist with the investigation of other State Department employees.  Under this legislation, ARB staff would be drawn from the Office of Inspector General.
  • eliminates potential conflicts of interest by banning individuals from serving as an ARB member or an ARB staffer if they have a personal or professional relationship with someone expected to be investigated. 
  • enhances transparency and allows greater oversight of the ARB process.  Current law requires that the Secretary disclose only the names of the five ARB members.  This legislation requires the Secretary to disclose the names of any senior State Department employees tasked with assisting an ARB.
  • allows greater oversight.  Current law requires that the ARB submit a final report to the Secretary.  This legislation requires that the ARB also submit the final report to Congress. 

 

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