Beng­hazi was pre­ventable Se­nate re­port could have im­pli­ca­tions for Clin­ton run in 2016

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

The 2012 ter­ror­ist as­sault on the U.S. diplo­matic post in Beng­hazi, Libya, in­volved at­tack­ers from sev­eral ma­jor in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ist net­works, ac­cord­ing to a bi­par­ti­san Se­nate re­port re­leased Wed­nes­day that blames the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity and the State Depart­ment — and Am­bas­sador J. Christo­pher Stevens him­self — for lapses.

Stevens and three other Amer­i­cans died in the at­tack, which the re­port by the Se­nate Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence said could have been averted if the State Depart­ment had heeded nu­mer­ous warn­ings.

But Stevens him­self re­jected De­fense Depart­ment of­fers of more se­cu­rity, and he never for­warded other warn­ings from Beng­hazi to his su­pe­ri­ors in Wash­ing­ton, the re­port con­cluded.

The 85-page re­port di­rectly con­tra­dicts a New York Times in­ves­ti­ga­tion last month that ar­gued no in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ist groups were in­volved in the as­sault, which the pa­per said was spurred, in part, by an anti-Is­lam video.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers, led by Chair­woman Dianne Fe­in­stein, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, con­cluded that video cam­eras sur­round­ing the com­pound show no spon­ta­neous protest against the film. They also flatly con­cluded that fight­ers loyal to groups with ties to al Qaeda took part in the at­tack.

“In­di­vid­u­als af­fil­i­ated with ter­ror­ist groups, in­clud­ing AQIM, An­sar al-Sharia, AQAP, and the Mo­ham­mad Ja­mal Net­work, par­tic­i­pated in the Septem­ber 11, 2012, at­tacks,” the com­mit­tee said, us­ing the acronyms for al Qaeda in the Is­lamic Maghreb and al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula.

The com­mit­tee re­port ex­posed abysmal se­cu­rity at the Beng­hazi out­post, in­clud­ing ev­i­dence that some of the lo­cal guards hired to pro­tect the fa­cil­ity were seen van­dal­iz­ing or at­tack­ing the build­ing in the months be­fore the as­sault.

Those con­clu­sions could cause po­lit­i­cal prob­lems for for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton — though the main re­port doesn’t men­tion her and in­stead places blame for the se­cu­rity lapses on those fur­ther down the chain of com­mand. Mrs. Clin­ton has tan­gled heat­edly with con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans over the han­dling of the at­tack and its af­ter­math.

In an ap­pen­dix to the re­port signed only by Sen. Saxby Cham­b­liss of Ge­or­gia, the com­mit­tee’s vice chair­man, and five fel­low Repub­li­cans, the Demo­cratic front-run­ner for 2016 was di­rectly crit­i­cized for her role in the Beng­hazi af­fair.

The Repub­li­can law­mak­ers wrote, “the fi­nal re­spon­si­bil­ity for se­cu­rity at diplo­matic fa­cil­i­ties lies with the for­mer Sec­re­tary of State, Hil­lary Clin­ton. … At the end of the day, she was re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing the safety of all Amer­i­cans serv­ing in our diplo­matic fa­cil­i­ties. Her fail­ure to do so clearly made a dif­fer­ence in the lives of the four mur­dered Amer­i­cans and their fam­i­lies.”

De­spite Pres­i­dent Obama’s prom­ise to take ac­tion, no­body has been ar­rested as a re­sult of the at­tack.

In­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee mem­bers said part of the prob­lem is that the Libyan gov­ern­ment “has not shown the po­lit­i­cal in­cen­tive or will” to go af­ter those re­spon­si­ble for the at­tack, and lo­cals in Beng­hazi who have aided the U.S. have reg­u­larly turned up dead. As many as 15 peo­ple who sup­ported the in­ves­ti­ga­tion or oth­er­wise helped the U.S. have been killed since the at­tack, ac­cord­ing to the FBI.

The State Depart­ment said it has taken steps to fix se­cu­rity prob­lems at out­posts around the globe.

But spokes­woman Marie Harf said it’s not clear how much more could have been done in the im­me­di­ate run-up to the Beng­hazi as­sault be­cause no spe­cific in­tel­li­gence alert had been is­sued.

“Clearly, we needed to do more with se­cu­rity here. No­body is say­ing that we did ev­ery­thing per­fectly by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion,” she said. “But again, we con­tinue to as­sess and have no in­for­ma­tion to in­di­cate that there was any sig­nif­i­cant pre­plan­ning in­volved here. So there was a sit­u­a­tion where it looks like bad guys who were al­ready op­er­at­ing there took ad­van­tage of a sit­u­a­tion.”

The re­port tries to cor­rect some of the nar­ra­tive that has emerged since the at­tack. For ex­am­ple, com­mit­tee mem­bers said that con­trary to re­ports, the U.S. was not the only coun­try to keep its mis­sion in Beng­hazi open dur­ing the sum­mer of 2012 — a claim some

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.