Final Benghazi report reveals bureaucratic nightmare

The Republicans' report found bungling at the CIA and State Department, but no wrongdoing by Hillary; the Democrats' report names Donald Trump 23 times.

Hillary Clinton testifying before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
Hillary Clinton testifying before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2016 — Republicans and Democrats have released their separate, final versions of the House Benghazi investigation. The reports were completed at a cost of more than $7 million to properly investigate what happened there.

Each side places the blame for that fiasco on each other. Four Americans were killed in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012, when extremists overran a consular compound and burned the consulate to the ground. The attack cost the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

The Republicans on the committee, led by Rep. Trey Gowdy announced the release of their 800-page report during a morning press conference.

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The committee doesn’t blame then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally for what went wrong, but it concludes she did not properly address the risks to the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya. The report suggests that Ambassador Stevens bore responsibility for securing his compound. Gowdy says the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department failed in their duties to respond to the attack. 

GOP Rep. Jim Jordan blames the attack on a failure of leadership. “The overall report, it’s about the facts, what happened,” Jordan told Chris Cuomo Tuesday on CNN’s “New Day.” “But Mr. Pompeo and I thought it was important to ask the questions. Why were we still in Benghazi when almost every other country had left? Why did we stay in Benghazi when the security situation was so terrible, so dangerous? And why did the administration mislead us?”

Clinton was asked about the release of the GOP’s Benghazi report. “I have said from the very beginning, nothing is more important than the safety and security of our diplomats and development officials who go into dangerous places around the world pursuing American values, interests and our security,” she said during an event in Denver. “And I said this when I testified for 11 hours that no one has thought more about or lost more sleep over the lives that we lost, the four Americans, which was devastating.”

The 800-page report offers just seven recommendations for reform, in contrast to the 9/11 commission report which offered hundreds of recommendations. The Select Committee investigation lasted longer than the investigations into 9/11, Watergate, or Iran-Contra. While those who bungled our preparation for and response to the attack need to be held accountable, the question remains whether this was time well spent.

Democrats released a separate, 399-page report shifting the blame away from Clinton, instead faulting weak security at the compound and the lack of military resources ready to respond. It also mentions Donald Trump 23 times, more than its combined mentions of former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, who were killed in the attack.

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The lack of incriminating evidence pointing to Clinton means that her campaign will probably not be strongly affected by this report.

The Trump and Clinton campaigns responded predictably to the report. Clinton said that it’s important to “learn the right lessons,” adding, “I’ll leave it to others to characterize this report, but I think it’s time to move on.” Trump campaign lawyer Michael Cohen sent out a tweet accusing Clinton of murdering Stevens.

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