House probe rejects Benghazi criticisms
A nearly two-year House probe into the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stephens, counters many claims used by opponents of Obama administration to portray the incident as a White House failure.
It rejects assertions that the CIA was secretly shipping arms to Syria from Benghazi, that the CIA had ordered potential rescuers to stand down, and that the government bullied people into not testifying or speaking about the Benghazi attacks.
The House Intelligence Committee’s findings do not place blame on the administration for failing during the attacks. However, they do assert that the State Department knew that it could not defend the Benghazi consulate from an “armed assault.”
The report also faults the Obama administration for using a “flawed” process to generate much-criticized talking points for administration officials and lawmakers in the aftermath of the attacks. Ambassador Susan Rice received significant scrutiny for asserting that the violence was inspired by a protest over an anti-Muslim video. The administration later said the attack was the result of a terrorist plot.
Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the committee’s top lawmakers, called CIA officers “heroes” in a joint statement.
“We also concluded that there was no intelligence failure prior to the attacks but the early intelligence assessments and the administrations’ public narrative on the causes and motivations for the attack were not fully accurate,” they said.
The Benghazi attacks have evolved into a flash point for conservatives, who say they represent the culmination of failures by President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Republicans have said that Clinton, who is considering a run for president in 2016, could face significant scrutiny over the issue if she decides to run.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif) told the Associated Press that he hopes the report “will put to rest many of the questions that have been asked and answered yet again.”
The House of Representatives convened a special committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks in May. That committee’s investigation is ongoing.