Retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering

Retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP File Photo

Rep. Issa Subpoenas Ambassador Pickering to Testify on Benghazi Report

House Oversight chairman calls refusal to meet privately ‘inconsistent’ with transparency.

In response to the recent refusal of retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering to agree to testify in private on the independent review he chaired on the September 2012 deaths of four Americans at the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, a key House chairman has hit him with a subpoena.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Friday answered a letter from Pickering by issuing a subpoena requiring him to sit for a deposition with committee staff rather than proceed directly to a public hearing as Pickering had volunteered to do.

“While I am very much committed to having you testify publicly and appreciate your newfound willingness to do so, I was disappointed that you are attempting to limit the committee’s understanding of the Accountability Review Board by refusing to participate in a voluntary transcribed interview prior to testifying publicly,” Issa wrote. “In light of your continuing refusal to appear voluntarily for a transcribed interview, however, I have found it necessary to issue a subpoena to compel your appearance at a deposition.”

Issa criticized the review board, co-chaired by retired Admiral Mike Mullen, for working “behind closed doors,” for not recording its interviews and not publishing a list of interviewees. “Even now, months after the ARB report was released, the ARB’s investigative process has remained opaque,” Issa said.

The subpoena requires Pickering to appear for a deposition on May 23 at 10:00 a.m.

Reached by Government Executivefor comment, Pickering said he had yet to hear of the subpoena, but would consult State Department lawyers.