The truth is out there, and Benghazigate has officially died with a whimper. Yesterday, the Republican-led House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (which inexplicably included Michelle Bachmann) released the final findings of its two-year Benghazi witch hunt.
You can read the page one Executive Summary for yourself below, but what it comes down to is this: Not only was there no failure, no conspiracy, and no cover-up, there was no…well…pretty much everything Fox has said with utmost certainty for the past two years. Which, if you can believe it, actually makes Fox “News'” years of claims about Benghazi LESS accurate than it’s claims about climate change. We know. Wonders never cease.
But before the summary, a few interesting points from later in the report:
- The CIA security team not only “adequately defended” the complex — they were downright ballsy. At first, they tried to ride out the attack, even after the mortar shells began exploding around them. One DS agent repeatedly ran into a burning building under gunfire looking for people to rescue. Another group “tried unsuccessfully to secure heavy weapons from militia members it met along the way.” Read: tried to take machine guns and RPGs from guys with machine guns and RPGs. Ballsy.
- During the 12 months prior to the attack, the CIA published 54 pieces of finished intelligence analysis about the security situation there, including active groups and what they were capable of. In one report, they specifically outlined the threat to Western interests in eastern Libya. Though the threat was pretty obvious — there had been more than 20 attacks on Western interests in Benghazi in the last year alone. In fact, just the day before the attack, the CIA Chief of the Tripoli Station reported having a conversation about the security situation with Ambassador Stevens.
- CIA security contractors had long before noted the security flaws at the complex, primarily being a lack of personnel to guard it. And…this is where we bring up the video of one Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who quite gleefully bragged about cutting the funding for the Benghazi security team. Hey, just a little more GOP “prioritizing.” Though, to be fair, we wonder how many security people several trillion dollars in Bush tax cuts could have paid for.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (“HPSCI” or “the Committee”) conducted a comprehensive and exhaustive investigation into the tragic attacks against two U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11-12, 2012. The nearly two-year investigation focused on the activities of the Intelligence Community (“IC”) before, during, and after the attacks. During the course of thousands of hours of detailed investigation, HPSCI reviewed thousands of pages of intelligence assessments, cables, notes, and emails; held 20 Committee events and hearings; and conducted detailed interviews with senior intelligence officials and eyewitnesses to the attacks, including eight security personnel on the ground in Benghazi that night.
This report details the findings and conclusions of HPSCI’s investigation.
In summary, the Committee first concludes that the CIA ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi and, without a requirement to do so, ably and bravely assisted the State Department on the night of the attacks. Their actions saved lives. Appropriate U.S. personnel made reasonable tactical decisions that night, and the Committee found no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support. The Committee, however, received evidence that the State Department security personnel, resources, and equipment were unable to counter the terrorist threat that day and required CIA assistance.
Second, the Committee finds that there was no intelligence failure prior to the attacks. In the months prior, the IC provided intelligence about previous attacks and the increased threat environment in Benghazi, but the IC did not have specific, tactical warning of the September 11 attacks.
Third, the Committee finds that a mixed group of individuals, including those affiliated with Al-Qa’ida, participated in the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, although the Committee finds that the intelligence was and remains conflicting about the identities, affiliations, and motivations of the attackers.
Fourth, the Committee concludes that after the attacks, the early intelligence assessments and the Administration’s initial public narrative on the causes and motivations for the attacks were not fully accurate. There was a stream of contradictory and conflicting intelligence that came in after the attacks. The Committee found intelligence to support CIA’s initial assessment that the attacks had evolved out of a protest in Benghazi; but it also found contrary intelligence, which ultimately proved to be the correct intelligence. There was no protest. The CIA only changed its initial assessment about a protest on September 24, 2012, when closed caption television footage became available on September 18, 2012 (two days after Ambassador Susan Rice spoke), and after the FBI began publishing its interviews with U.S. officials on the ground on September 22, 2012.
Fifth, the Committee finds that the process used to generate the talking points HPSCI asked for — and which were used for Ambassador Rice’s public appearances — was flawed. HPSCI asked for the talking points solely to aid Members’ ability to communicate publicly using the best available intelligence at the time, and mistakes were made in the process of how those talking points were developed.
Finally, the Committee found no evidence that any officer was intimidated, wrongly forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement or otherwise kept from speaking to Congress, or polygraphed because of their presence in Benghazi. The Committee also found no evidence that the CIA conducted unauthorized activities in Benghazi and no evidence that the IC shipped arms to Syria.
This report, and the nearly two years of intensive investigation it reflects, is meant to serve as the definitive House statement on the Intelligence Community’s activities before, during, and after the tragic events that caused the deaths of four brave Americans.
Despite the highly sensitive nature of these activities, the report has endeavored to make the facts and conclusions within this report widely and publicly available so that the American public can separate the actual facts from the swirl of rumors and unsupported allegations. Only with a full accounting of the facts can we ensure that tragedies like the one that took the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty never happen again.