This time, "what difference does it make?" isn't going to cut it. Despite the administration's nonchalant attitude and various efforts at suppression, the Benghazi outrage isn't going away. Via Erika Johnsen and CBS News:
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, vulnerable by approving lax security measures, a report released Tuesday by House Republicans concluded. The 46-page report accused Clinton — a possible White House contender in 2016 — of seeking to cover up failures by the State Department that could have contributed to the attack last year that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The report, compiled by five House panels after a seven-month investigation, said Clinton approved reductions in security levels prior to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, contradicting Clinton’s testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Jan. 23.
CBS News ticks down the three major findings of House Republicans' interim report (numerals mine):
(1) The committees' Republicans conclude that Clinton approved security reductions at the consulate, pointing to evidence such as an April 2012 State Department cable bearing her signature. The cable was a formal request from then-U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz for more security. In her testimony before Congress in January, Clinton said, "With specific security requests they didn't come to me. I had no knowledge of them."
(2) The interim report also charges that White House and senior State Department officials attempted to protect the State Department from criticism by altering accurate talking points drafted by the intelligence community. For instance, the report says that, after a Sept. 15, 2012 meeting, administration officials removed references to the likely participation of Islamic extremists.
(3) The report also contradicts administration claims that the talking points were changed to protect classified information. None of the email exchanges reviewed ever mentioned a concern about classified information, according to the report.
The first item is the most damning, but let's work from the bottom up. Democrats and the White House have attempted hide behind "national security" and "classified information" to block the public from hearing details about what exactly happened on September 11, 2012. They used the same excuse to retool Susan Rice's ludicrous talking points before she appeared on five Sunday morning shows, spreading misinformation about the nature of the terrorist attack at every step. Internal documents obtained by House investigators also reveal that the administration's contemporaneous deliberations didn't mention these concerns; instead, they lay a trail of bread crumbs down the path of political ass-covering. The original talking points assembled by the intelligence community were accurate; they were altered by face-saving officials at State. And if they were so worried about sensitive information and documents getting into the wrong hands, why did they allow the compound to remain unsecured for weeks? Finally, Secretary Clinton wasn't truthful -- or at least wasn't accurate -- when she asserted that none of the requests for increased security measures in Benghazi reached her level. She personally signed a cable that bore at least one such request. The Hill has more:
“Repeated requests for additional security were denied at the highest levels of the State Department,” it said. “For example, an April 2012 State Department cable bearing Secretary Hillary Clinton’s signature acknowledged then-Ambassador [Gene] Cretz’s formal request for additional security assets but ordered the withdrawal of security elements to proceed as planned.”
Cretz's successor, Chris Stevens, pleaded for more resources, too, including on the day of his murder. It's important to remember that the administration didn't merely deny "repeated" appeals for more protection, they actually reduced our security footprint on the ground, for reasons that remain a mystery. We still don't know why the consulate's protection was so breathtakingly insufficient (despite the administration's insulting suggestions to the contrary). The report -- which remains incomplete -- also does not explain why numerous urgent requests for immediate help went unheeded during the hours-long raid itself. We still don't know where the President of the United States was during the bloodbath, nor is there an explanation for why zero forces or assets were deployed to help our people. Men died because of this unjustifiable inaction. Perhaps the "multiple" new whistle-blowers can help answer some of these critical, unanswered inquiries. People like Patricia Smith and Charlie Woods deserve the truth.