Benghazi report faults security
Republicans on the House Benghazi Committee harshly faulted the Obama administration yesterday for lax security and a slow response to the deadly 2012 attacks at the United States diplomatic outpost in Libya. But they produced no new allegations about then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The attacks, which killed four Americans, including US Ambassador Chris Stevens, have been repeatedly cited by Republicans as a serious failure by the administration and by Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
But the committee's 800-page report, released by Republican members, offered no "smoking gun" about Clinton's role. Rep Trey Gowdy, the panel's chairman, has repeatedly said the report was not aimed at her, though Democrats have accused the committee's Republican majority of targeting her throughout.
The report from the two-year, $7 million investigation severely criticises the military, CIA and administration officials for their response as the attacks unfolded the night of September 11, 2012, and their subsequent explanation to the American people.
Eight hours after the two assaults began, "Not a single wheel of a single US (military) asset had turned towards Libya," Gowdy, R-South Carolina, told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference. "Think about that for a second."
He said military leaders told the committee that they thought an evacuation was imminent, slowing any response.
The Libya attacks became immediate political fodder, given their timing in the weeks before Obama's re-election, and that has not abated despite seven previous congressional investigations. There has been finger-pointing on both sides over security at the US diplomatic outpost in Benghazi and whether the White House initially tried to portray the assault as a protest over an offensive, anti-Muslim video, instead of a calculated terrorist attack.
The GOP report offers no major revelations, but that won't quiet the criticism of Clinton from conservatives, likely Republican rival Donald Trump and other detractors. The committee interviewed more than 100 witnesses and reviewed some 75,000 pages of documents, but an almost accidental discovery by the panel last year has overshadowed Clinton's candidacy.
The committee disclosed that Clinton had used a private email server to conduct government business, a practice that is the subject of an FBI investigation.