On Tuesday, after more than two years of work and $7 million in expense, the House Select Committee on Benghazi released a massive, 800-page report which according to The Hill, is filled with new criticism of Hillary Clinton.
The full report can be found here, and the key highlights are as folows:
What has also emerged is a picture of the State Department eating up valuable time by insisting that certain elements of the U.S. military respond to Libya in civilian clothes and that it not use vehicles with United States markings. Both restrictions appear to have been concessions to the Libyan government that did not want an identifiable U.S. military presence on the streets of Libya. We will never know exactly how long these conditions delayed the military response but that they were even a part of the discussion is troubling.
And at the same time the State Department appeared to waste time on what our soldiers would wear, it also appeared to waste time and focus on the YouTube video that the administration would later blame, falsely, for the attack. It has emerged that during an emergency call at 7:30 p.m. on the night of the attack involving Secretary Clinton and other high-level officials from the Department of Defense, State Department, and CIA that a full five of the eleven action items from the meeting related to the video.
The Hill provides a quick summary of the findings, much of which is already largely known by those paying attention to the investigation. Clinton is criticized more for her actions before and after the night of the attack, rather than during the attack itself.
The report says that Clinton and other officials did not adequately pay attention to concerns about the growing extremism in Benghazi and other parts of Libya.
“It is not clear what additional intelligence would have satisfied either [Undersecretary of Management Patrick] Kennedy or the secretary in understanding the Benghazi Mission compound was at risk—short of an attack,” the report claimed.
"The intelligence on which Kennedy and the secretary were briefed daily was clear and pointed—Al Qa’ida, al Qa’ida like groups, and other regional extremists took refuge in the security vacuum created by the Libya government and its inability to take command of the security situation.”
After the attacks occurred, Clinton is accused of knowing full well that the event was sparked by extremist militia members, but instead chose to blame the attack on an anti-Muslim video.
The day after the violence, Clinton told Egypt’s prime minister that U.S. officials “know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film.
“It was a planned attack — not a protest,” she added.
In public, however, Clinton and other senior officials appeared to conflate the violence with the video for days to come.
Then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice caused a stir when she appeared on multiple Sunday political shows offering a performance scoffed at even by government officials.
“I think Rice was off the reservation on this one,” one senior State Department official working on Libya wrote in an email after her appearances.
“Off the reservation on five networks!” responded another official.
In addition to The Hill's summary, here are a few other notable new findings from the report.
- Despite President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s clear orders to deploy military assets, nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began. [pg. 141]
- A Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain, for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times. [pg. 154]
- The Libyan forces that evacuated Americans from the CIA Annex to the Benghazi airport was not affiliated with any of the militias the CIA or State Department had developed a relationship with during the prior 18 months. Instead, it was comprised of former Qadhafi loyalists who the U.S. had helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution. [pg. 144]
- In August 2012—roughly a month before the Benghazi attacks—security on the ground worsened significantly. Ambassador Stevens initially planned to travel to Benghazi in early August, but cancelled the trip “primarily for Ramadan/security reasons.” [pg. 99]
- Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta bluntly told the committee “an intelligence failure” occurred with respect to Benghazi. Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell also acknowledged multiple times an intelligence failure did in fact occur prior to the Benghazi attacks. [pg. 129]
The Pompeo-Jordan report, written as "additional views" to the main GOP report, adds this additional color, courtesy of the Washington Examiner:
- Secretary Clinton did not make every effort to ensure the Americans being sent to Libya were safe, a project she has full ownership of from start to finish. They were inadequately protected and their requests for help fell on deaf ears.
- Following the attack, the administration misled the public about the events of that night in Benghazi. The State Department and Secretary Clinton learned quickly that this was a terrorist attack, but rather than be square with the American people and risk losing an election, they opted to blame a video?inspired protest that never happened.
- Our government did not move heaven and earth to rescue our people. The American people expect that our leaders will do whatever is necessary to save our people when things go wrong. We now know the U.S. military never reached Benghazi and the government never directed men or machines to enter the fight there.
- The administration broke its promise to bring those responsible to justice. Now four years after the attack, only one person has been arrested and was brought to America before proper interrogation took place.
- The administration never had a sincere interest in helping the Committee and working with us to find the truth. It was politics, deceit and deception.
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The Clinton campaign responded quickly, downplaying the report as being full of "discredited conspiracy theories."
"The Republicans on the House Benghazi Committee are finishing their work in the same, partisan way that we've seen from them since the beginning. In refusing to issue its report on a bipartisan basis, the Committee is breaking from the precedent set by other Congressional inquiries into the Benghazi attacks. And in leaking out select portions from their report in the middle of the night, without even allowing some of the Committee's own members to see it, Republican members are clearly seeking to avoid any fact-checking of their discredited, conspiracy theories." said Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon in a statement.
The five Democrats on the committee released a rebuttal report on Monday in an attempt to get ahead of the formal report being released. "We are issuing our own report today because, after spending more than two years and $7 million in taxpayer funds in one of the longest and most partisan congressional investigations in history, it is long past time for the select committee to conclude its work." Democrats said.
The Democrat report, according to The Hill claimed that nothing uncovered by the Select Committee on Benghazi altered the underlying narrative about the events of September 11, 2012. "Although the select committee obtained additional details that provide context and granularity, these details do not fundamentally alter the previous conclusions." the Democrats wrote. The report also said that no on in the military issued a "stand down" order, and that Clinton was active and engaged on the night of the attacks and in the days that followed.
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In summary, after all of the expense and rhetoric, we find ourselves right back to square one in this saga.