Dueling Benghazi Reports Released by House Democrats and Republicans
In contrasting reports released Monday and Tuesday by House Democrats and Republicans, respectively, the harrowing events at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 have been poked and prodded, with the two sides reaching opposite conclusions.
“None of the relevant military forces met their required deployment timelines,” the Republicans, headed by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), concluded in its 800-page report. “Nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost eight hours after the attacks began.” The report is the result a two year, $7 million investigation into the deaths of four Americans–including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens–in Benghazi.
The Democratic minority faction of the House Select Committee on Benghazi concluded in its report, which was led by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and released on Monday in an effort to pre-empt the Republican findings, that the Department of Defense “could not have done anything differently on the night of the attacks that would have saved the lives of the four brave Americans killed in Benghazi.”
They added that while the security at the compound–which was the site of two separate terrorist bombings a mile away from each other, and hours apart–was “woefully inadequate,” “Secretary Clinton never personally denied any requests for additional security in Benghazi.”
Hillary Clinton has been a political flashpoint over the nearly four years since the attacks and throughout the seven total investigations into the events of September 11, 2012. She was secretary of state at the time of the attacks, and her name has been wielded by Republicans as a key implicit character in its confusing aftermath.
She testified before the committee last October. Immediately following the tragic episode, the State Department portrayed the attacks as a response to an anti-Muslim video. In the subsequent months, the attack was found to have been premeditated by Islamic militants, unrelated to any such video.
And while Republicans have at least partially blamed Clinton in previous investigations–one of which led to a separate FBI investigation into her use of a private email server, an issue that is still present as she campaigns to be the next president–into the attacks, the latest report does not focus on her, but on the miscommunication and failings of the Department’s larger security apparatus. The Democrats called the Republican report “a conspiracy theory on steroids” and said it was the “opposite” of bipartisan.
For their part, the Republican side dismissed the Democrats’ report as being full of “rehashed, partisan talking points defending their endorsed candidate for president,” alluding to Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
In their statement responding to the Democrats’ 339-page report, the Republicans highlighted a few key terms and the frequency with which they appeared in the Democrats’ “so-called ‘report'”: “Clinton” appears 334 times, and “Stevens,” the surname of the U.S. ambassador killed during the attack, appeared 85 times. This, according to the Republicans, reinforces the Democrats’ fixation on Clinton in regards to Benghazi.
Regardless of the political theatre and partisan ammunition the Benghazi attacks have provided, the one agreed upon point from both sides–the lax security at the diplomatic compound–has resulted in some good news. “We have made great progress towards making our posts safer since 2012,” the State Department said in a statement Monday.