State Dept. Official: Reassigning Staff over Benghazi 'Serious Accountability'

State Dept. Official: Reassigning Staff over Benghazi 'Serious Accountability'

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) criticized State Department Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy at the Committee’s hearing on Benghazi for Kennedy’s responses regarding the Accountability Review Board’s lack of impartiality. 

“We’re here today, because at the end of the day, no one is held accountable. And so that’s contradictory to the thesis that you’re advancing here. No one is held accountable,” Royce said.

“Mr. Chairman, I respectfully disagree about the subject of accountability. Four employees of the State Department were relieved of their senior positions as Assistant Secretaries or Deputy Assistant Secretaries of State and are no longer holding those senior positions,” Kennedy answered. “I submit, Mr. Chairman, that accountability includes being relieved from your job and assigned to other positions. To me that is serious accountability.”

“Well, the reassignment–no one missed a paycheck–alright? No one has been held accountable and the board did not take this to the upper levels of management,” Royce countered. 

Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, the head of the investigation into the attack in Libya, told The Hill he wanted two of the State Department employees in question fired but left the decision to do so to personnel at the State Department. 

“Our report recommended two people should leave their jobs, nothing more, nothing less,” said Pickering, the chairman of the Accountability Review Board. Pickering added the panel did not have the authority to fire anyone and left it up to the State Department to decide if that meant sacking the pair or moving them to a different job.

“We left open their staying on in the department,” Pickering said.

Secretary of State John Kerry placed the four State Department employees on administrative leave in August before reassigning them to different posts. As a result of the move, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) “promised” he would expand his committee’s investigation into the ARB and Kerry.