The Cable

Issa subpoenas documents for 10 current and former top State Department officials

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has subpoenaed documents from a range of current and former State Department officials, including senior members of the U.S. Foreign Service and top aides to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pertaining to the Obama administration's Benghazi talking points.

In a letter addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry, Issa claims that the administration's release of around 100 pages of emails documenting the editing of the talking points was "incomplete" and that its refusal to cooperate with his committee left him "with no alternative but to compel the State Department to produce relevant documents through subpoena."

The subpoena "covers documents and the communications related to talking points" prepared for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and delivered on Sept. 16, 2012, in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack.

The subpoena ensnares records from a range of top Clinton aides, many of whom either left the State Department with Clinton, such as her longtime spokesman Philippe Reines, or have been promoted to more senior positions within the Obama administration, such as Jake Sullivan to national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden and Victoria Nuland to assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. The 10 names are all listed below:

1.         William Burns, Deputy Secretary of State;

2.         Elizabeth Dibble, Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs;

3.         Beth Jones, Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs;

4.         Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management;

5.         Cheryl Mills, Counselor and Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton;

6.         Thomas Nides, Deputy Secretary for Management;

7.         Victoria Nuland, Spokesperson;

8.         Philippe Reines, Deputy Assistant Secretary;

9.         Jake Sullivan, Director of Policy Planning; and,

10.  David Adams, Assistant Secretary for State for Legislative Affairs.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MA), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, pushed back against Issa's subpoena.

"House Republicans appear to be obsessed with Hillary Clinton and are distracting Congress from conducting responsible oversight to protect our diplomatic personnel serving overseas," Cummings told The Cable. "This investigation has been politicized from the beginning as House Republicans accuse first and then scramble to find evidence to back up their unsubstantiated claims."

You can read Issa's entire letter below:

DEI-to-Kerry-5.28.13

The Cable

Who knew about McCain's secret trip to Syria?

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) pulled a fast one this Memorial Day weekend, sneaking into Syria for "several hours" to meet with rebel fighters, as the Daily Beast reported, and sneaking back before anyone noticed.

In a town terrible at keeping secrets, the war zone visit of the highest-ranking U.S. official to date raised an immediate question: Who knew?

This morning, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reassured reporters that the White House was aware of McCain's trip and "looks forward" to hearing from him on his return, according to CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller. But officials at the State Department and National Security Council would not elaborate about the trip's planning or logistics. "As is standard practice, we don't comment on congressional delegations," NSC spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told The Cable.

But Elizabeth O'Bagy, political director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, the group that helped organize McCain's trip, told The Cable the voyage went through a maze of vetting ahead of time and earned approval by the State Department.

"Yes the State Department knew about the visit beforehand and helped coordinate security issues," she said. "Truth be told, organizing a trip of this nature is a huge pain in the ass because of security concerns, which the State Department is rightly concerned about. I heard from State that they actually got Sec. John Kerry's approval before McCain made the trip."

To be sure, the White House probably isn't too concerned about taking heat for slow travel approval. It is, however, concerned about pushing back against McCain's overall notion that the administration's Syria policy is on cruise control: failing to lend military aid to the rebels and, as McCain said this month, drawing a red line on chemical weapons with "disappearing ink."

Carney rebuffed that criticism today, telling reporters the White House "strongly disagrees" with that criticism and is looking to get the facts about chemical weapons use before any major action is taken. In any event, despite the two sides' differences, they were able to keep a secret long enough for McCain to cross the Turkey-Syria border with the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, Gen. Salim Idris, and even pose for a few photo ops.

 The post was updated to reflect a clarification by the Syrian Emergency Task Force.