Clinton to answer lawmakers' Benghazi questions
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C., Oct. 24, 2012. / Getty
(CBS News) WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will answer lawmakers' questions about the fatal attack in Benghazi, Libya - but not until after the State Department concludes its own probe into the Sept. 11, 2012 assault, a source close to the investigation told CBS News.
A separate source said the State Department's Accountability Review Board (ARB) will likely hand over the results of its investigation by the end of December, though investigators are leaving open the possibility that additional time will be requested.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, confirmed Thursday that Clinton would testify.
"I have spoken to Secretary Clinton's Counselor and Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills, and the Secretary has committed to testifying before our Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Accountability Review Board's report, which is expected to be concluded by early to mid-December," Ros-Lehtinen said in her opening remarks before the committee.
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An Obama administration official told CBS News Clinton would likely talk to the congressional leaders investigating the Benghazi attack before her term ends as Secretary of State, but they would not give any more specific timing.
Other State Department officials have discussed with both Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen - who chair the Senate and House committees which oversee the State Department - the best way to present the results of the ARB's investigation. The investigators on the ARB, who were appointed by Clinton, began their work during the week of Oct. 1.
Clinton and her top aides have yet to be briefed by the ARB investigators, according to the source close to the investigation.
The head of the Accountability Review Board - Ambassador Thomas Pickering - issued his first public statement to date in response to an inquiry by CBS News about the focus of his investigation.
"The board is meeting and it and its staff are at work. It has decided to keep its deliberations confidential to preserve the integrity and objectivity of its work in accordance with the statute providing for its activity," said Pickering.
The review board has interviewed the five Diplomatic Security agents who survived the fatal attack, and they have viewed video recorded by the more than 10 security cameras mounted inside the Benghazi compound. Sources tell CBS News that the video is grainy but "decent" quality.
Lawmakers are also interested in seeing this video, which remains in the possession of the FBI. Following a closed-door briefing Thursday of the Senate Homeland Security Committee by Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy and Diplomatic Security Sec. Eric Boswell, Senators Susan Collins and Lieberman told CBS News they were disappointed that the agency had not released video.
Sources tell CBS News the Senate Intelligence committee is likely to see other video presented by intelligence officials during Thursday's closed-door briefing. That material was recorded by the two surveillance drones flying overhead during the assault.
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