Overnight Defense: Benghazi report fallout | Nearly 50 dead after Istanbul attack

THE TOPLINE: Nearly 50 people were killed and more than 60 wounded after explosions and gunfire struck the largest airport in Turkey on Tuesday. 

A Turkish official told Reuters that two suspects blew themselves up at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport. The country's justice minister said 10 were dead after the strike, though that number was later revised upwards to nearly 50.

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At least 20 people were taken to area hospitals, and reports indicated as many as 68 had been injured. Taxis were allegedly being used to transport the wounded. 

The Hill's Jesse Byrnes and Harper Neidig have more on this developing story here

TRUMP ON ISTANBUL: Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate MORE responded to the terror attack in Istanbul on Tuesday by warning that the "terrorist threat has never been greater" and calling for the United States to ramp up security measures.

"Our prayers are with the families of those killed and injured in Istanbul," said a Trump campaign statement on Tuesday. "The whole world is stunned and horrified."

The statement came after a Trump adviser told The Hill earlier Monday that the presumptive GOP nominee would draw back on his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.

For more on Trump's response to Istanbul from The Hill's Harper Neidig, click here.

For the latest on Trump's proposed ban on Muslims, click here.

BENGHAZI PANEL RELEASES REPORT: The House Select Committee on Benghazi released its long-awaited report on Tuesday, which ran 800-pages and contained more than two years of work and cost $7 million. 

The report does not fundamentally alter the public's understanding of the attacks, which left four Americans dead and has stirred controversy throughout President Obama's time in office, writes The Hill's Julian Hattem.

But the analysis includes new facts sure to be seized upon by the administration's critics and which are likely to serve as points of attack against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonButtigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice Senate GOP sees early Supreme Court vote as political booster shot Poll: 51 percent of voters want to abolish the electoral college MORE during the general election.

The report chides Clinton and other officials for not adequately heeding concerns about the growing extremism in Benghazi and other parts of Libya 

It also accuses her of knowing that it was sparked by extremist militia members but nonetheless blaming it on an anti-Muslim video responsible for other protests.

In a statement, the Clinton campaign blasted the report as a partisan-driven exercise filled with conspiracy theories. 

"The Republicans on the House Benghazi Committee are finishing their work in the same, partisan way that we've seen from them since the beginning," Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement.

Read more about the report here

For Clinton's response, click here.

Click here for more on the White House's video explanation.

PENTAGON ORDERS UNDER SCRUTINY: The Benghazi report was also very critical of the Pentagon's response to the attacks, asserting it did not move with enough urgency.

U.S. forces were not given orders to deploy until five hours after the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks began, the report said.

Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered U.S. forces to deploy sometime between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET, about three hours after the attack began at 3:42 p.m. ET.

"Yet nearly two more hours elapsed before the Secretary's orders were relayed to those forces. Several more hours elapsed before any of those forces moved," said the report.

The report asserts that during that time the White House held a two-hour interagency meeting to discuss the deployment of forces and exchange information. 

The report asserts that Panetta believed his orders were clear, and they were to "deploy the identified assets immediately," not "order the preparation to deploy or the planning to deploy or the contemplation of deployment." 

Read more from The Hill's Kristina Wong here

OFFICIALS ALSO DEBATED MARINE UNIFORMS: Senior State Department officials objected to U.S. Marines responding to the attacks in uniform, over concern it would appear to be an invasion.

Marines ordered to rescue Americans under siege at a diplomatic compound were told to change in and out of uniform four times as officials debated.  

"We were told multiple times to change what we were wearing, to change from cammies into civilian attire, civilian attire into cammies, cammies into civilian attire," the commander of a Marine Fleet Anti-Terrorist Security Team (FAST) platoon testified to the committee, referring to camouflage fatigues. 

"The State Department didn't want it to look like it was an invasion of Libya," Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), a member of the Benghazi, said Tuesday on "The Hugh Hewitt Show." "They were hypersensitive to looking like there were Americans coming into Libya when this was truly a terrorist haven."

According to the report, the debate occurred during a two-hour emergency video teleconference call during the attack, which was led by White House chief of staff Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughThe swamp wasn't drained — it expanded Susan Rice calls for Flynn-Kislyak transcripts to be released GOP seeks to go on offense using Flynn against Biden MORE

The State Department pushed back against the suggestion that the debate over uniforms caused any delay.

Read more here.

MORE ON BENGHAZI REPORT:

Some Republicans on the panel released their own report, going further in criticizing the Obama administration, reports The Hill's Julian Hattem.

Also, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 At indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates MORE (R-Wis.) praised the House Select Committee on Benghazi for trying to uncover "the truth" about the 2012 terror attack that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, reports Julian Hattem.

But Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Dem on the panel, ranks his time on the House Select Committee on Benghazi among the lowest points of his career, reports The Hill's Mark Hensch.

The White House on Tuesday dismissed the GOP report as an effort to "tear down" Hillary Clinton, reports The Hill's Jordan Fabian.

And highlighting the contentious nature of the panel, Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdySunday shows preview: Election integrity dominates as Nov. 3 nears Tim Scott invokes Breonna Taylor, George Floyd in Trump convention speech Sunday shows preview: Republicans gear up for national convention, USPS debate continues in Washington MORE (R-S.C.), the chairman Benghazi Committee, traded personal jabs with the panel's top Democrat on Tuesday, reports The Hill's Jesse Byrnes.

McCHRYSTAL BACKS PENTAGON REFORM: The Senate Armed Services Committee got a boost Tuesday from retired Army Gen. Stan McChrystal, who testified in support of Pentagon reforms the committee backs. 

The panel, led by Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain endorses Biden: He's only candidate 'who stands up for our values' Biden says Cindy McCain will endorse him Biden's six best bets in 2016 Trump states MORE (R-Ariz.), has proposed in its 2017 defense policy bill that the Pentagon create six cross-functional teams dedicated to the highest-priority defense missions. All Pentagon teams are currently organized by function.

The Pentagon opposes the reforms. But McChrystal said in testimony to the committee: "It does have to take place, Mr. Chairman, I think you're exactly right."

Read more here


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