A report unanimously adopted by the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee last week flatly contradicts a number of criticisms of the Obama administration’s response to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The report denies several allegations that have been made against the administration, including the inflammatory claim that military assets available to assist the beleaguered U.S. compound were ordered to “stand down” during the attack, which left four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, dead.
The members of the committee also voted to declassify the report so that the details of the lengthy investigation can be made public.
"The Committee spent thousands of hours in the course of the investigation, which included poring over pages of intelligence assessments, cables, notes and emails,” said Rep Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) in a statement. “The Committee held twenty briefings and hearings and conducted detailed interviews with senior intelligence officials and eyewitnesses to the attacks, including eight security personnel on the ground in Benghazi that night. The result is a bipartisan, factual, definitive report on what the Intelligence Community did and did not do.”
Ruppersberger said the report found no evidence of an intelligence failure prior to the attack.
“[T]he Intelligence Community warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened,” he said, a finding “consistent with testimony that the attacks appeared to be opportunistic.”
He continued, “It also found that a mixed group of individuals including those associated with Al-Qaeda, Qadafi loyalists and other Libyan militias participated in the attack. Additionally, the report shows there was no ‘stand down order’ given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, and no American was left behind.”
The report also addresses the controversial “talking points” delivered by National Security Adviser Susan Rice, when she appeared on Sunday morning talk shows in the days following the attacks. Rice said the attacks appeared to have been a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islam film that was released on YouTube in the days prior to the attack.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), said in a release, “The Intelligence Committee report adds to the body of investigative work now completed by numerous committees in Congress, and reaches the same noncontroversial conclusions – that the initial talking points provided by the intelligence community were flawed because of conflicting assessments not an intention to deceive.”
The events in Benghazi nearly two full years ago have been exhaustively investigated by a number of Congressional committees, most notably the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), and the findings of the Intelligence Committee, though they appear definitive, won’t put the brakes on additional inquiries.
In May, Republican leaders in the House announced the formation of a select committee to investigate the September 11, 2012 attack. Over the weekend, the committee chair, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said that plans are moving forward for additional hearings and that witnesses are being contacted.
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