State Department to get independent Benghazi report

Posted at 11:58 AM, Dec 16, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-16 13:58:35-05

By Elise Labott

WASHINGTON (CNN) — After months of accusations and political recriminations, the State Department is getting ready to present the most detailed explanation yet regarding the circumstances surrounding the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Monday, the State Department is expected to get a report on the incident from the independent Advisory Review Board, sources in the State Department told CNN Sunday. The review was ordered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Congress will receive the report from the board ahead of a classified briefing for members on Wednesday by Thomas Pickering, who led the Advisory Review Board. Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was also on the panel, will be part of the briefing as well.

The State Department is also expected to present recommendations on improving security. That’s likely to include an explanation of measures that have already been put in place since the September 11 attack on the consulate, which left four Americans — including U.S. Amb. Chris Stevens — dead.

On Thursday, Deputy Secretaries Bill Burns and Tom Nides will testify about Benghazi before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The two are substituting for Clinton, who is recovering from a concussion she suffered after fainting due to dehydration from a stomach virus.

The politics surrounding the attack and how it was characterized by the Obama administration have already scuttled the ambitions of U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, whose name was in the running to succeed Clinton as secretary of state.

Critics said Rice’s comments about the attack on Sunday news programs in the immediate aftermath were out of line with the true intelligence about the incident, and were an attempt by the administration to avoid tying it to terrorism.

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