GOP Goes After Obama With New Benghazi Report

The report aligns closely with party findings from last year.

McKeon: One of the last hawks.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
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Jordain Carney
Feb. 11, 2014, 6:49 a.m.

A House sub­com­mit­tee re­port re­leased Tues­day places the blame over the re­sponse to the Benghazi ter­ror­ist at­tack squarely on the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s shoulders.

The re­port from the House Armed Ser­vices Sub­com­mit­tee on Over­sight and In­vest­ig­a­tions is backed by Re­pub­lic­an mem­bers of the sub­com­mit­tee, as well as Reps. Buck McK­eon, Mac Thorn­berry, and Martha Roby. And though at mul­tiple points the re­port singles out the White House and the State De­part­ment as be­ing at fault, it largely clears the De­fense De­part­ment from any blame.

The re­port isn’t the first time mem­bers of Con­gress have ques­tioned the State De­part­ment’s ac­tions in the wake of the Benghazi at­tack. A Janu­ary re­port from the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee found that the State De­part­ment didn’t in­crease se­cur­ity des­pite warn­ings.

Tues­day’s re­port con­tains a hand­ful of key find­ings:

  • The White House either ig­nored or didn’t un­der­stand the shift­ing se­cur­ity threat in Libya, and threats to U.S. in­terests in the coun­try.

  • U.S. per­son­nel in Benghazi were vul­ner­able be­cause the ad­min­is­tra­tion didn’t call for an in­crease in mil­it­ary pres­ence, there wasn’t a spe­cif­ic “im­min­ent” threat in the coun­try, and the State De­part­ment pressed for few­er De­fense De­part­ment se­cur­ity of­fi­cials in Libya.

  • The De­fense De­part­ment be­lieved from the be­gin­ning that the Sept. 11, 2012 in­cid­ent was a ter­ror­ist at­tack.

  • The mil­it­ary did not fully pre­pare for a longer op­er­a­tion in Libya be­cause of un­cer­tainty over the spe­cif­ics of the Benghazi at­tack. And the mil­it­ary’s im­me­di­ate re­sponse to the at­tack was scaled back be­cause of a lack of geo­graph­ic read­i­ness with­in U.S. forces.

  • Mil­it­ary of­fi­cials from Tripoli who tried to aid Benghazi did not re­ceive a “stand down” or­der, but roles and re­spons­ib­il­it­ies for in­di­vidu­als were un­clear.

  • The De­fense De­part­ment is cor­rect­ing faults high­lighted by the Benghazi at­tack, des­pite the de­part­ment’s budget crunch.

A duo of Demo­crat­ic com­mit­tee mem­bers said the re­port should bring “this at­tempt to man­u­fac­ture a scan­dal to an end,” re­fer­ring to what they con­sider a push by some Re­pub­lic­ans to politi­cize the at­tacks.

“While Re­pub­lic­ans in both the House and Sen­ate have con­tin­ued to at­tack the mo­tiv­a­tions and ac­tions of those who serve in our coun­try’s na­tion­al se­cur­ity ap­par­at­us, this Re­pub­lic­an pre­pared re­port clearly states that the De­part­ment of De­fense re­spon­ded ap­pro­pri­ately, quickly, to the best of its abil­ity at that time, and that no ‘stand down’ or­der was ever is­sued. All of these con­clu­sions are counter to as­ser­tions and ac­cus­a­tions leveled by a num­ber of Re­pub­lic­ans,” said Demo­crat­ic Reps. Adam Smith and Niki Tson­gas.

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