After an extensive two-year investigation that included reviews of all available official correspondence, at least 100 interviews with government officials, 15 hearings, and 64 briefings, the House Benghazi Committee has released an 800-page report detailing the deadly incompetence and blatant deceptiveness of the administration that resulted in four Americans murdered and the pushing of a false narrative to the American people to cover for the failures of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama.
Despite the Democrats' preemptive attempts to dismiss the report as a partisan hit-job on Clinton, even left-leaning outlets are being forced to acknowledge the scrupulousness of the investigation, helmed by Republican Trey Gowdy, and the damning evidence that the Obama administration "failed across multiple agencies and levels to protect American diplomats in the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack."
Worse, the report shows that the Benghazi attack was not only an avoidable tragedy, but the administration's response to it involved "intentional and coordinated" deception.
Here are eight damning facts detailed in the report.
1. The Clinton State Department knew full well that the Benghazi compound was undermanned.
The report demonstrates that Clinton's State Department had clearly assessed the high risk of Benghazi in 2011 and 2012, acknowledging that the fall of Moammar Gaddafi had resulted in a high risk of militia violence and increased crime and weapons ownership in the area. Despite the dramatically worsening situation on the ground, the compound was left increasingly more exposed due to lack of security, faulty equipment, and the reliance on "undisciplined and unskilled" local militia for protection. From late 2011 until the attack in 2012, there were at least two attacks on the Benghazi outpost, as well as attacks on other U.S. international facilities and diplomats. Yet, the compound was left dangerously vulnerable.
2. Requests for increased security at Benghazi were either ignored or outright refused by the department.
Despite repeated requests in late 2011 and early 2012 for new agents to help improve the security of the compound, "no additional resources" or "personnel" were sent by the administration. "Washington D.C. dismissed Stevens' multiple requests for additional security personnel while also asking for help in messaging the very violence he was seeking security from," then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told the committee.
The report shows that rather than fortifying the compound amid increased risk, the administration all but abandoned it in the months ahead of the attack. A security staff of 34 in early August was slashed to just six by the end of the month.
"It is not clear what additional intelligence would have satisfied either Kennedy or the Secretary in understanding the Benghazi mission compound was at risk — short of an attack," concludes the report.
3. The administration put the lives of Americans in the hands of incompetent and untrustworthy militia.
The report highlights the increased reliance on local militia to protect American personnel, groups one official described as "undisciplined and unskilled." Clinton's State Department thus put the lives of Americans in the hands incompetent and untrustworthy "security" groups.
4. The administration failed to respond in time, in part because of political concerns.
Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered U.S. forces to be deployed to rescue our personnel in Benghazi. Though they were mobilized to a staging area in Italy and were ready to take action, not a single asset he ordered deployed ever left the ground. The damning reasons for this failure include political concerns about how the Libyan government wanted our military personnel dressed.
During a two-hour "deputies meeting" which Clinton attended that took place while the 13-hour attack was underway, the State Department ate up valuable time "by insisting that certain elements of the U.S. military respond to Libya in civilian clothes and that it not use vehicles with United States markings. Both restrictions appear to have been concessions to the Libyan government that did not want an identifiable U.S. military presence on the streets of Libya."
Larry O'Connor notes that another "even more troubling" revelation is that "nearly half of the action items that came out of this critical meeting involved the YouTube video, Innocence of Muslims, which the Obama Administration falsely claimed to be the impetuous for the deadly terror attack."
5. Clinton et al overrode the order to send a rescue team because they mistakenly thought the attack was over.
The report, as NBC News highlights, also cites several witnesses who explained that the administration failed to act in time in part because they incorrectly thought the attack was over and that it would thus be more prudent to send reinforcements to Tripoli.
"Their understanding was that the assets needed to be sent to Tripoli to augment security at the Embassy, and that the State Department was working to move the State Department personnel from Benghazi to Tripoli," reads the report.
6. The administration's claim that the attack was a result of the YouTube video was a complete fiction.
The most damning of all the sections of the report is on the administration's attempt to spin the attack for political purposes. The committee underscores that the administration's initial public talking points alleging that the attack was the spontaneous result of a protest over a YouTube video that insulted Mohammad rather than a coordinated attack was invented by officials as a means of providing the administration political cover a few weeks away from an election. All of the reports from the ground clearly proved that this was a planned attack.
"The report quotes an agent at the Benghazi compound as hearing chanting before a full-on attack begins, including explosions and gunfire and '70 people rushing into the compound with an assortment of "AK-47s, grenades, RPG's ... a couple of different assault rifles,'" explains CNN. "Another security officer described the assault as 'a full on attack against our compound.' Asked if he had seen a protest before the attacks, the officer said: 'zip, nothing, nada.'"
Clinton immediately acknowledged in email correspondence that the attack was by a terrorist group, but then began to feed the public (and the families of victims) the fabrication that the attack was part of a broader protest against an obscure video.
7. The administration engaged in a "shameful" stonewalling attempt during the investigation.
In the last section of the report, the committee highlights the administration’s “shameful” stonewalling of the investigation, particularly in regard to Clinton's private email server.
"What may appear at first blush to be a lack of competence on behalf of the State Department now appears fully intentional and coordinated," concludes the report. "Delaying the production of documents sought by letter, informal request or subpoena has decided political advantages for those opposing the investigation."
8. The administration blocked all attempts to investigate the alleged secret transfer of weapons to Libyan rebels.
The Benghazi committee report notes that the Obama administration blocked their attempts to investigate an alleged transfer of weapons to Libyan rebels, which has been rumored to be connected to the attack.
"Multiple news reports in the past year have cited unnamed State or intelligence officials saying the president approved a covert operation to ship weapons to Libyans to arm rebels trying to oust Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi — a proposal Clinton herself supported but that the administration has never acknowledged," reports Politico. However, the committee was unable to either confirm or deny those reports due to what they said was a block by the National Security Council on interviews with the CIA or other officials about the reported covert operation.
"Over the course of nearly a dozen interviews with the State Department, the Defense Department and CIA personnel, witnesses consistently refused to answer questions related to certain allegations with respect to U.S. activity in Libya even though the House specifically gave the committee access to materials relating to intelligence sources and methods,” the report reads. “Most of these questions related in some way to allegations regarding weapons.”