What with the immigration amnesty executive order and the “reappearance” of Lois Lerner’s emails, the Benghazi tragedy of September 11, 2012 has been almost forgotten. But the latest probe by a Congressional committee into the incident over two-years-ago dismisses the idea that the Obama administration merely fell down on the job.
Republicans have long accused the White House, CIA and the State Department of mishandling the assault on the US mission in the Libyan city, which left the ambassador and three colleagues dead. Now, with a press release issued Friday by the House intelligence committee, the White House itself is cleared of any errors during the attack.
The committee is led by some of the fiercest administration foes. But the White House itself is basically exonerated from blame.
The CIA, which was also investigated, had been found to have not provided adequate security for its own agents at an annex near the diplomatic mission, and Washington (Hillary Cllinton’s State Department) had failed to send support. However, the report, which was based on “thousands of hours of investigation” and interviews with both senior officials and agents who had been on the ground, found that this had not been the case.
The report said, “CIA ensured sufficient security for CIA activities in Benghazi and, without a requirement to do so, ably and bravely assisted the State Department on the night of the attacks,” it said. It went on to say, “Appropriate US personnel made reasonable tactical decision that night, and the committee found no evidence that there was a stand-down order or a denial of available air support. The CIA received all military support that was available.”
The report did not reach the same conclusion about the State Department. It was found the State Department diplomatic compound where Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed had inadequate security and had needed CIA assistance. That flaw can be traced all the way to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The report also found there was “no intelligence failure prior to the attacks.” That means the US mission was itself aware of the worsening security situation in Benghazi but not of a specific planned attack, which the report blames on lack of security and State Department blunders.
The 2012 attack itself occurred on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington. It was carried out by Libyan militias and extremists, some with al Qaeda ties. The State Department initially blamed the attack on a litle known video that slandered the Muslim world.
After the attacks, then US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice blamed the tragedy on a spontaneous local protest provoked by a privately-made propaganda film that attacked Islam. That was later proven to be blatantly false.
The truth was CIA agents at the facility were tracking local groups. The report said that, while some government agencies were slow to respond to its queries, all eventually cooperated with the inquiry and no CIA personnel were intimidated by the administration.
It still leaves the bulk of the blame squarely on the shoulders of the State Department and Hillary Clinton, it’s chief operating officer as secretary of state. The report cannot be a good sign for any presidential campaign Clinton proposes to run.
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