The drip, drip, drip of Benghazi
Another day, another revelation on Benghazi. The “bipartisan” Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last week put out a scathing report on the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Libya, citing “systematic failures” that led to the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
While the heavily redacted report released to the American public spread the blame, the committee repeatedly pointed the finger at former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s State Department.
In perhaps the most significant finding, the report said the intelligence community (IC), including the CIA, NSA and Pentagon, among others, delivered many warnings on the growing threats in Benghazi, but the State Department failed to take them seriously and increase security.
“Finding 1: In the months before the attacks on September 11, 2012, the IC provided ample strategic warning that the security situation in eastern Libya was deteriorating and the U.S. facilities and personnel were at risk in Benghazi,” the report said.
More: “The IC produced hundreds of analytic reports in the months preceding the September 11-12, 2012, attacks, providing strategic warning that militias and terrorist and affiliated groups had the capability and intent to strike the U.S. and Western facilities and personnel in Libya.”
Those “analytic reports” came with stark titles. “Libya: Terrorists Now Targeting U.S. and Western Interests,” said one from June 2012. “Terrorism: Conditions Ripe for More Attacks, Terrorist Safe Haven in Libya,” said another. And, “Libya: Terrorists to Increase Strength During Next Six Months.”
The committee’s conclusion: “Given these developments and the available intelligence at the time, the committee believes the State Department should have recognized the need to increase security to a level commensurate with the threat, or suspend operations in Benghazi.”
The new report also ripped the State Department for what it did after the attack. “In finished reports after September 11, 2012, intelligence analysts inaccurately referred to the presence of a protest at the Mission facility before the attack based on open source information and limited intelligence, but without sufficient intelligence or eyewitness statements to corroborate that assertion. The IC took too long to correct these erroneous reports, which caused confusion and influenced the public statements of policymakers.”
In the days after the attack, the Obama administration dispatched the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, to the Sunday talk shows to detail what the White House knew. She said on Sept. 16 that the attackers gathered “spontaneously” to protest at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. Within days, security footage from inside the compound proved there was no protest, but months later, Mrs. Clinton asked: “Was it because of a protest or because of guys out for a walk one night and decided to go kill some Americans? At this point what difference does it make, senator?”
What’s more, the report concluded that terrorists connected to al Qaeda were in fact present at the attack — contradicting what a December article in The New York Times asserted. “Individuals affiliated with terrorist groups, including AQIM (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), Ansar al-Sharia, AQAP (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), and the Mohammad Jamal Network (which the State Department says is connected to al Qaeda), participated in the September 11, 2012, attacks,” the report said.
In fact, the report uses the word “terrorist” 70 times — something it took the president and his minions weeks to use. Later reports show the White House knew within hours that the attack was terrorism.
The bipartisan report was devastating to hard-left political pundits, who have been pushing the notion that Benghazi is all smoke and no fire. And at least two seized on an absolutely despicable angle.
“What the Senate report found was that they actually agreed — a bipartisan agreement on the facts — which was that the attack was preventable, and they raised several areas where it could have been prevented, like Ambassador Stevens unfortunately refusing help from Central Command General [Carter] Ham when it was offered — twice,” Democratic talking head Hillary Rosen said on CNN.
Bloviator Piers Morgan went a step further. “Is it fair to also say that he as the ambassador should have done more to react to direct warnings that he was given on numerous occasions?”
Democrats will continue to grasp at straws, but the latest report clearly signals that Congress needs to reopen all investigations to get to the bottom of what top Obama officials knew and when they knew it. And Hillary Rodham Clinton should be front and center of the probes.
A Republican senator, Susan Collins of Maine, summed up the report in one trenchant sentence: “A broken system overseen by senior leadership contributed to the vulnerability of U.S. diplomats ... in one of the most dangerous cities in the world, and yet the secretary of state has not held anyone responsible for the system’s failings.”
Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times and is now editor of the Drudge Report. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.