friday news dump house gop report debunks benghazi theories

WASHINGTON — A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee found that the CIA and the military did the right thing when they responded to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and that Obama administration appointees did nothing wrong.

The politically charged incident was looked into, and it was found that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed chance for a military rescue, and no evidence that the CIA was secretly shipping arms from Libya to Syria. This put to rest a number of claims that hinted at dark conspiracies.

The report found that right after the attack, there were different pieces of information about who did it and why. Because of this, Susan Rice, who was the U.S. ambassador to the UN at the time, said that the attack was a response to a protest, even though there had been no protest. The committee found that the wrong decision was made by intelligence analysts, not political appointees. The report did not say that Rice or any other government official lied to the American people on purpose or did so in bad faith.

The report from the House Intelligence Committee came out on the Friday before Thanksgiving with little fuss. Many of its conclusions are the same as those of six other investigations done by Congress and the State Department. A House Select Committee that was set up in May is looking into Benghazi for the eighth time.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and two CIA contractors, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty, were killed in the attacks in Benghazi. Ahmed Abu Khatalla, a Libyan extremist who was caught in Libya and brought to the U.S., is being tried for murder.

After the attacks, Republicans said bad things about the Obama administration and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time and is expected to run for president in 2016. People in and out of the government have said that a CIA response team was told to “stand down” after the attack on the State Department compound, that a military rescue was cancelled, that officials downplayed the role of al-Qaida figures in the attack, and that Stevens and the CIA were involved in a secret operation to get weapons out of Libya and into the hands of Syrian rebels. The report from the House Intelligence Committee says that none of that is true.

The report did find, though, that the State Department building where Stevens and Smith were killed was not well protected, and that State Department security agents knew they could not defend it from a well-armed attack. Previous reports have shown that Washington did not act on requests to make security better.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the committee’s chairman, and Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Maryland, the ranking Democrat, said in a joint statement, “We spent thousands of hours asking questions, reading documents, reviewing intelligence assessments, reading cables and emails, and holding a total of 20 committee events and hearings.”

“We talked in depth with top intelligence officials from Benghazi and Tripoli, as well as eight security workers on the ground in Benghazi that night. We decided that all of the CIA officers in Benghazi were heroes based on what we heard and what we read. They saved lives with what they did,” they said.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California who is on the intelligence panel and the Benghazi select committee, said, “I hope that this report will put to rest many of the questions that have been asked and answered again, and that the Benghazi Select Committee will accept these findings and instead focus on the State Department’s progress in securing our facilities around the world and building up our fast response capabilities.”

Rice, who is now Obama’s national security adviser and spoke for the Obama administration on Sunday talk shows the weekend after the attack, has been accused of some of the worst things. Rice used talking points that were wrong about a protest over a video that Muslims found offensive.

The report says, though, that Rice’s comments were based on bad information from several sources. The report said that analysts got 21 reports that a protest happened in Benghazi. Fourteen of the reports came from the Open Source Center, which looks at news stories, one came from the CIA, two came from the Defense Department, and four came from the National Security Agency.

Since then, some of the people who took part in the attack have said that the video was what made them do it. The people who attacked were a mix of extremists and people who just wanted to join in.

“To this day,” the report said, “significant intelligence gaps remain about who the attackers were, where they came from, and why they did what they did.”

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