U.S. Lawmakers to Review Secret Report on Benghazi Attack
U.S. lawmakers were on Tuesday expected to begin scouring a top secret report which could highlight security failings surrounding a deadly attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya, reported AFP.
The classified findings of a State Department investigation into the September 11 terror attack on the consulate in Benghazi were being sent Tuesday to members of two House and Senate committees, a top official said.
The report's unclassified section will be publicly available by Wednesday morning at the latest, added State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
The attack in which the ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans died, has become fiercely politicized, with Republicans alleging security failings, as well as a possible cover-up over Al-Qaeda's role.
The chairman of the Accountability Review Board (ARB), diplomat Thomas Pickering, and team member Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will brief lawmakers on Wednesday behind closed doors, reported AFP.
"The classified version of the ARB report is going to go up to the Hill later this afternoon so that members and staff of relevant committees will have a chance to look at it in advance of the classified briefings," Nuland said.
It will be accompanied by a letter from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had been due to testify to Congress this week, but has been told to rest at home by doctors after suffering a stomach bug and a concussion.
Nuland categorically denied suggestions from some observers that Clinton may be faking her illness in a bid to avoid testifying on the Benghazi inquiry.
Such claims were "completely untrue," Nuland said. "We've been very clear from the beginning that she had a stomach virus, an ugly stomach virus. She got very dehydrated. She fainted. It was later discovered she had sustained a concussion."
She accused critics of "wild speculations based on no information," adding Clinton was working from home and was in email and phone contact with staff.
The Benghazi report was sent by courier to Clinton at home on Monday, and she has read the highly-anticipated findings.
Deputy secretaries of state William J. Burns and Thomas R. Nides will testify to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Clinton’s place, according to reports earlier this week.
Nides and Burns will also testify in Clinton's place before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The panel's chairwoman, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), said, however, that Clinton's testimony will be required in the future.