Oversight Issues Subpoena for Documents Related to Benghazi Talking Points

Chariman Issa has issued a subpoena for documents related to the talking points produced to explain what happened in Benghazi on 9/11. In a letter explaining the need for the subpoena, Issa argues that the administration has not been forthcoming on its own making this a necessary step in obtaining documents relevant to the committee’s investigation.

The five page letter released today identifies nine individuals whose emails the Oversight committee wants to see. The list includes Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Acting Assistant Secretary Beth Jones, Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy, Hillary’s Counselor Cheryl Mills, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland and four others.

Issa’s letter to Secretary Kerry opens with a recitation of various administration promises to work with Congress in an open and transparent way. For instance, it quotes Secretary Kerry’s promise to run “an accountable and open State Department.” The rest of the letter argues that the administration has been anything but open and accountable.

On May 20th 2013, the State Department responded to our May 15, 2013, document request by forwarding those 100 pages to the committee, with a cover letter that explained the documents included “the e-mails and other documents created by State Department personnel in connection with their participation in the interagency process led by the CIA to prepare the talking points in question.”

Aside from the fact that it consisted entirely of documents that had been released to the press five days earlier, the State Department’s response was incomplete. The State Department’s response failed to acknowledge that we requested all communications related to the talking points, to or from nine State Department officials.

In other words, the State Department put a thumb in Oversight’s eye by releasing documents to the public 5 days before responding to the congressional request and then pretended it was a complete response. With this response in mind, Issa is now issuing the subpoena for the documents he initially requested by turned over voluntarily on May 15th. The letter requires the documents be produced by “12:00 noon on Friday, June 7, 2013.”

Chairman Issa had previously subpoenaed Thomas Pickering–co-author of the ARB report on Benghazi–to testify before his committee. Issa subsequently withdrew that subpeona after Pickering agreed to discuss the report privately.