The CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, a Republican-controlled House committee has found. Its report concluded that there was no wrongdoing by Obama administration officials.
Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the two-year investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.
Immediately after the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when in fact there had been no protest.
But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found. The report did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people.
The House Intelligence Committee report was released with little fanfare on the Friday before Thanksgiving week. Many of its findings echo those of six previous investigations by various congressional committees and a State Department panel. The eighth Benghazi investigation is being carried out by a House select committee appointed in May.
The attacks in Benghazi killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith and two CIA security contractors, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. A Libyan extremist, Ahmed Abu Khatallah, is facing trial in federal court on murder charges after he was captured in Libya and taken to the U.S.
After the attacks, Republicans criticized the Obama administration and its then-secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is expected to run for president in 2016.
People in and out of government have alleged that a CIA response team was ordered to “stand down” after the State Department compound came under attack, that a military rescue was nixed, that officials intentionally downplayed the role of Al Qaeda figures in the attack, and that Stevens and the CIA were involved in a secret operation to spirit weapons out of Libya and into the hands of Syrian rebels.
None of that is true, according to the House Intelligence Committee report.