A new bipartisan report based on the results of the Senate Intelligence Committee's Benghazi probe is not a whitewash, unlike the administration's incomplete review. The findings blame the Obama administration for a series of failures that culminated in the 9/11/12 terrorist attack that left four Americans dead, including the sitting ambassador to Libya. The deadly raid came after several previous attempted attacks on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, and after Hillary Clinton's State Department ignored and rejected several requests for an increased security presence on the ground. The report largely confirms what we already knew about the attacks, and leaves a number of critical questions unanswered. That said, it's fairly straightforward and unsparing in its assessments:
A long-delayed Senate intelligence committee report released on Wednesday spreads blame among the State Department and intelligence agencies for not preventing attacks on two outposts in Libya that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The bipartisan report lays out more than a dozen findings regarding the assaults on Sept. 11 and 12, 2012 on the diplomatic compound and a CIA annex in the Libyan city of Benghazi. It says the State Department failed to increase security at the sites despite warnings, and faults intelligence agencies for not sharing information about the existence of the CIA outpost with the U.S. military. The committee determined that the U.S. military command in Africa didn’t know about the CIA annex and didn’t have the resources to defend the diplomatic compound in an emergency. “The attacks were preventable, based on extensive intelligence reporting on the terrorist activity in Libya—to include prior threats and attacks against Western targets—and given the known security shortfalls at the U.S. Mission,” the panel said in a statement.
The conservative organization America Rising lists its top five takeaways from the "scathing" report:
#1: The State Department Ignored Or Rejected Requests For More Security From Its Own Ambassador.
#2: The State Department’s Failure To Heed Security Warnings, As The CIA Did, Contributed To “Breakdown” During Attack.
#3: The Intelligence Community Provided Numerous, Stark Warnings Of The Terrorist Threat In Benghazi In The Months Leading Up To The Attack.
#4: State Department Knew That Security “Tripwires” That Mandated More Security Or Closing Down The Facility Had Been Crossed; Failed To Act.
#5: State Department’s Lack Of Intelligence Analysis Post-Attack Shows “Unsettling” Lack Of Concern
NYT said no al Qaeda role in attacks. Senate #Benghazi report specifies four AQ-linked groups whose members participated in the attacks.— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) January 15, 2014
The Senate Intelligence Committee has now released its declassified review of the intelligence surrounding the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. The bottom line is this: Multiple parts of al Qaeda’s international terrorist network were involved. The key language comes forty pages into the report: “Individuals affiliated with terrorist groups, including AQIM, Ansar al-Sharia, AQAP, and the Mohammad Jamal Network, participated in the September 11, 2012, attacks.” Each of the groups named in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report were previously identified in THE WEEKLY STANDARD’s reporting and analysis as being involved in the attack. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) are both official branches of al Qaeda and have sworn allegiance to Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s emir.
Hayes also draws attention to a footnote buried within the lengthy document, in which the committee upbraids the Obama administration for "unnecessarily hamper[ing] the committee's review." That's a serious allegation. Republican committee members' notes go further, accusing the administration of still withholding relevant documentation. The Senate Intelligence Committee's assessment comes on the heels of a Fox News report re-confirming that US officials knew that the Benghazi attacks were acts of terrorism within minutes. President Obama hedged on this point in an interview with CBS News the day after the attack, and days later, his hand-picked spokesperson on the issue repeatedly and falsely claimed that the killings had arisen from a "spontaneous demonstration." Gregory Hicks, the State Department's second in command in Libya that night, has testified that he was rebuked and "effectively demoted" for objecting to the White House's inaccurate spin. CBS News reported last week that the State Department knowingly renewed its lease on the Benghazi compound without sufficient security in July 2012. State apparently exploited a security loophole that allowed them to maintain the inadequate measures, even though the facility had been targeted weeks earlier. Additional declassified testimony reveals that the State Department declined to renew a Defense Department security team that departed the country one month before Amb. Stevens was assassinated, and rejected an offer of a Marine detachment. These are an awful lot of developments for a "phony scandal," aren't they? I'll leave you with a quick check of the accountability scoreboard: Zero - zero. But by all means, let's fixate on lane closures, media.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography