Washington, D.C. Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s hearing on the Benghazi terrorist attacks:

“Today’s hearing reaffirms the flaws with the Accountability Review Board’s accounting of the Benghazi terrorist attack.  That review was not thorough, as I have maintained, and as we heard again today. 

“The ARB review found that the responsibility for the ‘systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies’ within the State Department stopped at the Assistant Secretary level. We heard again today that this was not the case.”

Note:  Eric Nordstrom, the former lead security officer in Libya, noted in his submitted written testimony: “[I]t is not what is contained within the [ARB’s] report that I take exception to but what is left unexamined.  Specifically, I’m concerned with the ARB’s decision to focus its attention at the Assistant Secretary level and below.”

Chairman Royce has introduced legislation to restructure the Accountability Review Board process, increasing its independence from the Secretary of State.  HR 1768 (Accountability Review Board Reform Act of 2013) does the following:

  • Increases the ARB’s independence from the State Department.  Currently, the Secretary of State appoints four out of the ARB’s five members – a clear majority that could influence the outcome of an investigation.  This bill requires the Chairperson of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity & Efficiency (the chief U.S. Inspector General) to appoint two of the ARB’s five members, thus limiting the Secretary’s appointments to a minority of ARB members (two).
  • Improves ARB staffing.  Currently, the ARB relies on State Department employees to assist it with its investigation.  State employees could be investigating friends, coworkers, or even themselves. Under this bill, Board staff will shift to the State’s Office of Inspector General.
  • Bans would-be Board members and staff who have a “conflict of interest” – a personal or professional relationship with someone they can be expected to investigate.
  • Requires the ARB report to be provided to Congress. Current law requires only that the ARB’s final report go to the Secretary of State. This bill requires that it is also presented to Congress.”