- Text smaller
- Text bigger
It was just on May 8 that former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, co-chairman of the State Department’s Accountability Review Board, criticized those who accused the Obama administration of a cover-up in the Benghazi scandal.
"I think the notion of a quote, cover-up, has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction attached to it," Pickering said on MSNBC.
He rebutted claims his review board tried to protect former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the way it conducted its investigation.
"I saw no evidence of it," he said. "She did publicly take responsibility for what happened below her and indeed one of the things the Congress did in preparing the legislation that established the Accountability Review Board was to say we don't want a situation where heads of agencies take responsibility and then nobody who made the decision in the chain has to suffer any consequences for failure for performance. I believe in fact the Accountability Review Board did its work well."
But wait just a minute.
Only a few days later, on Sunday, on "Meet the Press," even Pickering was scampering for the tall grass, saying his review only looked at what led up to the Benghazi attack with an eye toward security concerns. He said the review board did not examine the spin that followed the attack. In other words, all the changing talking points, after the fact, were not part of his review.
So how could he have said a few days ago there was no cover-up, which, by definition, is what occurs after an attack, if his investigation didn't look at that?
What's particularly distressing about Pickering's role in the Benghazi scandal is his own personal history.
Lt. Col. Oliver North recalls a time when he served as with the National Security Council in the Reagan administration that Pickering was in a pickle very similar to Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Pickering was the target of assassination threats while serving as ambassador to El Salvador. He was, in all likelihood, saved from such an attack because of decisive action taken on his behalf.
It's tragic that someone who lived through that experience would have such a cavalier attitude today about a fellow ambassador who was abandoned by another administration.
Pickering went on from that experience to become ambassador to Israel, where he became one of the first U.S. diplomats to distance U.S. support for Israel's national security. It's hardly surprising that he would find himself defending the indefensible in Benghazi.
In any case, Pickering has discredited his earlier remarks claiming there was no evidence of a cover-up in the Benghazi scandal.
By admitting his investigation was not even authorized to look into the matter, his earlier statements should be regarded as no more than an opinion – of no more value that anyone else's opinion. He is no more qualified to determine whether a cover-up took place in the burgeoning Benghazi scandal than any other casual observer.
I doubt he is the first or last member of the Obama administration who recognize this scandal is unraveling fast. No one will want to be part of the mess. The rats are beginning to abandon the ship, just as they abandoned Ambassador Chris Stevens and other Americans who died while Hillary Clinton and other members of the administration watched – and while Obama slept.
What a difference a week makes!
Even members of the press, who showed so little concern about Benghazi before the election, are beginning to cover their rear ends in what promises to become of the most embarrassing and tragic national security scandals in American history.