Republicans on the House Benghazi Committee harshly faulted the Obama administration Tuesday for lax security and a slow response to the deadly 2012 attacks at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya.
The attacks, which killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, have been repeatedly cited by Republicans as a serious failure by the administration and by Clinton, who now is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
But the committee’s 800-page report, released by Republican members, offered no “smoking gun” about Clinton’s role. Panel chairman Trey Gowdy has said the report was not aimed at her, though Democrats have accused the committee’s Republican majority of targeting her throughout.
The report from the two-year, $7 million investigation does include severe criticism of the military, CIA and administration officials for their response as the attacks unfolded the night of Sept. 11, 2012, and their subsequent explanation to the American people.
In the aftermath, “you didn’t know that a single U.S. military asset did not meet a single designated timeline,” Rep. Gowdy, R-S.C., told reporters. “Think about that for a second.”
“Nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost eight hours after the attacks began,” Gowdy said at a news conference. The report documents that the U.S. was slow to send help to the Americans “because of an obsession with hurting the Libyans’ feelings,” he said. The report also portrays a “series of heroic acts” by Americans under attack.”
Military leaders have testified repeatedly that they didn’t have intelligence information on what was happening or the resources on alert to respond in time to the two attacks, hours apart.
The Libya attacks became immediate political fodder, given their timing in the weeks before Obama’s re-election, and that has not abated despite seven previous investigations. There has been finger-pointing on both sides over security at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi and whether the White House initially tried to portray the assault as a protest over an offensive, anti-Muslim video, instead of a calculated terrorist attack.
In response to the report, Clinton’s campaign said it had “not found anything to contradict the conclusions of the multiple, earlier investigations.”
Committee Democrats released their own report Monday saying that while the State Department’s security measures in Benghazi the night of Sept. 11, 2012, were “woefully inadequate,” Clinton never personally turned down a request for additional security. Democrats said the military could not have done anything differently that night to save the lives of the Americans.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who helped write the Republican report, told CNN that “too little effort was made to protect” Stevens and the others. “We didn’t move heaven and earth to get help to the people who were fighting for their lives,” he said.
SOURCE: The Associated Press