The House Select Committee on Benghazi is offering new details about the fatal 2012 attack in an 800-page report that criticizes the Obama administration’s response and offers new fire against Hillary Clinton.
The report, after more than two years of work and $7 million in expense, does not fundamentally alter the public’s understanding of the attacks, which left four Americans dead and have simmered throughout President Obama’s time in office.
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 Clinton during the general election.
Among the new revelations is the notion that Ambassador Chris Stevens, who along with three other Americans was killed in the attack, was in Benghazi with the aim of erecting a permanent diplomatic post, to replace the temporary one that came under fire.
Military orders also appeared to have gotten lost or misinterpreted on their way down the chain, the report claims. And the Libyan forces that eventually evacuated the surviving Americans from the CIA annex were in fact former loyalists of deposed strongman Moammar Gaddafi, and not militia groups with a previous relationship with the U.S.
In the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks, Stevens and State Department information management officer Sean Smith died when their diplomatic compound came under attack. Former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone died from mortar fire hours later, at a nearby CIA annex.
Scrutiny over the terror attack has dogged the Obama administration for the last four years, and in the process has become a byword for scandal on par with Watergate.
Critics suspect the Obama administration of having turned a blind eye to security, failing to come to the victims aid and then misleading the public in the aftermath.
The episode has become political weight for Clinton in particular. Her presumptive Republican opponent, Donald Trump, has hammered her for “bad judgment” and suggestions that the violence was sparked in protest to an anti-Muslim YouTube video. The video was the source of protests elsewhere in the Muslim world, but the Benghazi attacks were spearheaded by a member of a radical Islamist militia.
Committee Democrats attempted to get out ahead of the report on Monday, by releasing their rebuttal analysis and dozens of interview transcripts a day early.
In their analysis, Democrats acknowledged that the committee had uncovered additional details about the 2012 violence, but maintained that nothing altered the underlying narrative supported by previous investigations.
The committee’s Tuesday release accomplishes a key goal of Gowdy’s, by ensuring it is public before the party nominating conventions next month. The conventions had been an informal deadline for the committee to release its report, and a delay would likely have been seen as the committee inserting itself into the campaign season.
“Now, I simply ask the American people to read this report for themselves, look at the evidence we have collected, and reach their own conclusions,” Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said in a statement on Tuesday morning. “You can read this report in less time than our fellow citizens were taking fire and fighting for their lives on the rooftops and in the streets of Benghazi.” [Click on report above in 2nd paragraph]
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