Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Final Nails Being Pounded in Benghazi 'Scandal'
After a two-year investigation, the House Intelligence Committee quietly voted last week to release its final report on the events leading up to the tragedy in Benghazi and its aftermath. The vote was unanimous, supported by all 12 Republicans and all nine Democrats, which is unusual these days. The completed report is now being declassified by intelligence analysts before being released to the public.
And what does the report conclude? Republican committee members are being oddly quiet about its findings, given how quick they have been to seek headlines on the matter in the past. However, U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the panel's top Democrat, has announced its basic findings.
According to Ruppersberger:
- "This report shows that there was no intelligence failure surrounding the Benghazi attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans. Our investigation found the Intelligence Community warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened, which is consistent with testimony that the attacks appeared to be opportunistic."
- "Additionally, the report shows there was no “stand down order” given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, and no American was left behind."
- "The report also shows that the process used to develop the talking points was flawed, but that the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis."
- "Finally, the report demonstrates that there was no illegal activity or illegal arms sales occurring at U.S. facilities in Benghazi. And there was absolutely no evidence, in documents or testimony, that the Intelligence Community’s assessments were politically motivated in any way."
Given the importance of bipartisan cooperation on the Intelligence Committee, it is highly unlikely that Ruppersberger is in any way misleading the public about what the panel has concluded**; certainly, no Republicans have stepped forward to challenge his description of the report's findings. They instead seem to have wandered into the cone of silence.
That's not surprising, because based on Ruppersberger's account, the bipartisan, unanimous Intelligence Committee report -- compiled with complete access to witnesses, documents, etc. -- definitively refutes every single right-wing conspiracy theory spun about Benghazi. No Republican wants to be the carrier of that message to his fellow party members.
Its findings also put the still-pending select investigative committee headed by U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy in an interesting little quandary. Its first hearing has been scheduled for early September, timed perfectly to start getting the base all fired up for the November midterms. I very much doubt that Gowdy will uncover evidence that the House Intelligence Committee overlooked, and the committee's vote to release its report suggests that it too is confident that it won't be embarrassed by later revelations.
In effect, that reduces Gowdy's "investigation" into a highly partisan spin operation that attempts to repackage the truth into something that sounds much worse than it actually is. Then again, that pretty much epitomizes what "Benghazi!!!!!" has been all along.
**In addition, the report will almost certainly repeat legitimate, well-deserved criticism leveled first by a State Department accountability review board that security practices at the Benghazi consulate were inadequate. Those findings have not been in dispute and have produced substantial reforms in how such challenges are addressed.