Following the release of the House Select Committee on Benghazi’s report on the 2012 terror attack on a diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, -- which was the culmination of an investigation lasting “two years and [costing] more than $7 million,” -- journalists are pointing out that the report “failed to unearth anything so damning as to change many minds about the events of that tragic night, or who is to blame for them,” and that “there doesn't seem to be a smoking gun when it comes to Hillary Clinton's culpability.”
House Republicans Release Report From Two-Year Benghazi Investigation
NBC News: “After A More Than Two-Year Investigation” House Republicans “Released A Lengthy Report … Recounting The Events” In Benghazi. House Republicans released “a lengthy report” that recounts “the events that led to the deaths of four American diplomats” after the 2012 terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. [NBC News, 6/28/16]
Media Note House Republicans’ Report “Does Not Appear To Uncover Conclusive Evidence Of Wrongdoing By Hillary Clinton”
ABC’s Martha Raddatz: “The Report Does Not Appear To Have Any Smoking Gun.” ABC’s Martha Raddatz stated that while the report “does have new details and analysis, [it] does not appear to have any smoking gun.” From ABC’s June 28 edition of Good Morning America:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But you’ve also got, Martha, conservatives on the committee, like Mike Pompeo who you just showed, who want more focus on Hillary Clinton. In those 800 pages, is there a smoking gun?
RADDATZ: It's a very broad report, but certainly looks at Secretary Clinton's role. Of course, there have been twelve other investigations. This one does have new details and analysis, but the report does not appear to have any smoking gun. Although some Republicans, as you know, say they still have unanswered questions. [ABC, Good Morning America, 6/28/16]
CBS’ Margaret Brennan: The Report “Does Not Appear To Uncover Conclusive Evidence Of Wrongdoing By Hillary Clinton.” CBS correspondent Margaret Brennan stated that while “Republican sources describe the four section report as a slam of the State Department,” the report “does not appear to uncover conclusive evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton.” From the June 28 edition of CBS This Morning:
MARGARET BRENNAN: Republican sources describe the four section report as a slam of the State Department for ignoring subpoenas, stonewalling, and withholding information about the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
It does not appear to uncover conclusive evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton.
Yet, that hasn’t stopped presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump from blaming her. [CBS, CBS This Morning, 6/28/16]
CNN’s Dana Bash: “There Doesn’t Seem To Be A Smoking Gun When It Comes To Hillary Clinton’s Culpability When She Was Secretary Of State.” CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash reported that “there doesn't seem to be a smoking gun when it comes to Hillary Clinton's culpability when she was secretary of state” in the report. From the June 28 edition of CNN’s New Day:
DANA BASH: It really paints the narrative of the outpost in Benghazi as a bureaucratic and diplomatic no man's land, which made it unnecessarily hard to get crucial funding, even more crucial security, and that's especially given how much the security situation deteriorated on the ground during that year between 2011 and 2012 when the deadly attack happened. But, what we reviewed, the answer to your question, Chris, there doesn't seem to be a smoking gun when it comes to Hillary Clinton's culpability when she was secretary of state. But it does conclude that the former secretary and her top aides had the intelligence to realize just how high a risk Benghazi was for her personnel. [CNN, New Day, 6/28/16]
NY Times: “Report Finds No New Evidence Of Wrongdoing By Hillary Clinton.” The New York Times’ David Herszenhorn wrote that while the report “included some new details about the night of the attacks” the committee found “no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton in the 2012 attacks in Libya.” From the Times’ June 28 article:
Ending one of the longest, costliest and most bitterly partisan congressional investigations in history, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report on Tuesday, finding no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton in the 2012 attacks in Libya that left four Americans dead.
The 800-page report, however, included some new details about the night of the attacks, and the context in which it occurred, and it delivered a broad rebuke of government agencies like the Defense Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department — and the officials who led them — for failing to grasp the acute security risks in the Libyan city, and especially for maintaining outposts in Benghazi that they could not protect. [The New York Times, 6/28/16]
Wash. Post’s Josh Rogin: The Report “Failed To Unearth Anything So Damning As To Change Many Minds About The Events Of That Tragic Night, Or Who Is To Blame.” Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin wrote, “After spending the better part of two years and more than $7 million,” the House Select Committee on Benghazi “failed to unearth anything so damning as to change many minds about the events of that tragic night, or who is to blame for them.” From Rogin’s June 28 column:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was planning to visit Libya in 2012, but those plans were upended when terrorists attacked the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi on Sept. 11 and 12 of that year, according to newly revealed testimony given to the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is set to release its highly anticipated report Tuesday.
The new detail is one of the few revelations in the several-hundred-page report the Benghazi committee is releasing Tuesday. After spending the better part of two years and more than $7 million, the panel headed by Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) is under pressure to show that its investment of time and taxpayer money was not wasted. Following several other investigations into the attacks, there’s not much left to know, but Republicans plan to highlight whatever new nuggets of information they can.
Though the Benghazi committee did find some new details, it failed to unearth anything so damning as to change many minds about the events of that tragic night, or who is to blame for them. [The Washington Post, 6/28/16]
Roll Call’s Jonathan Allen: “So, Reading All Eporting (sic) On Benghazi This Morning, There’s A Lot That Committee Is Claiming Is New That Was Out Before It Began Probe.”
The Daily Beast: Report “Offered No Clear And Direct Evidence That Laid The Blame For The Attacks At The Feet Of Hillary Clinton.” In an article titled “Republicans’ Benghazi Witch Hunt Burns GOP Instead,” The Daily Beast’s Shane Harris wrote that “If Trey Gowdy and his Republican colleagues thought they could land a decisive blow against Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes they need to think again.” Harris added, “the report revealed few new significant details about the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission that claimed four American lives. And it offered no clear and direct evidence that laid the blame for the attacks at the feet of Hillary Clinton.” From The Daily Beast’s June 28 article:
If Trey Gowdy and his Republican colleagues thought they could land a decisive blow against Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes they need to think again.
Republican members of a House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks finally released their conclusions on Tuesday. And at first glance, the 800-plus page report, two years in the making, looked like a big political misfire.
For starters, the report revealed few new significant details about the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission that claimed four American lives. And it offered no clear and direct evidence that laid the blame for the attacks at the feet of Hillary Clinton, then the Secretary of State and now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
Trey Gowdy, the South Carolina lawmaker who had led the committee, had long insisted his was a fact-finding mission not an act of partisan combat. But that assertion was perhaps irreparably undermined when a senior Republican congressman, Kevin McCarthy, characterized the investigation as an effort to bring down Clinton’s poll numbers. [The Daily Beast, 6/28/16]
Vox: “The Committee’s Report … Finds No New Evidence Of Wrongdoing By Barack Obama Or Hillary Clinton.” Vox’s Zack Beauchamp wrote, “The facts find the administration wasn’t responsible for failing to stop the Benghazi attack, but the report tries to spin this evidence in a way that’s bad for Team Obama anyway.” Beauchamp added that “nine different bodies have investigated Benghazi” and “none has uncovered real evidence of an administration cover-up or failure to properly respond to the attacks.” From Vox’s June 28 article:
The Republican-led House Select Committee on Benghazi has been investigating the attack on the US diplomatic mission in Libya since May 2014. The committee's report, released on Tuesday morning, contains several new details about the attack but finds no new evidence of wrongdoing by Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, nor any new evidence of the administration plotting to hide the truth from the American people. Yet the report spins the evidence as harmful for the administration regardless.
In other words: The facts find the administration wasn’t responsible for failing to stop the Benghazi attack, but the report tries to spin this evidence in a way that’s bad for Team Obama anyway. You see similar attempts to spin non-damning facts as damning in other parts of the report as well.
This shouldn’t be surprising. In an era of hyperpartisanship and presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Republicans have a big incentive to further the anti-administration Benghazi narrative in this kind of report, whether or not the underlying facts support their claims.
Yet nine different bodies have investigated Benghazi: the State Department's Accountability Review Board and eight separate congressional committees or staff reports. Each report has identified problems with the way the incident was handled by US government agencies — which are serious and worth raising — but none has uncovered real evidence of an administration cover-up or failure to properly respond to the attacks. [Vox, 6/28/16]
Wash. Post Editorial Board: The Report “Adds Exactly Nothing Substantial To The Story.” The Washington Post’s editorial board wrote that the report after “two years and $7 million” “adds exactly nothing substantial to the story” and “came up empty” regarding “Ms. Clinton’s personal culpability for what happened in Benghazi.” From the June 28 editorial:
As if all of that weren’t bad enough, the Benghazi attacks mutated into yet another of the partisan dramas that U.S. politicians — in this case Republican politicians — generate in lieu of constructive policymaking. Unable to turn the events to their advantage when they occurred, during the 2012 election campaign, Republicans have persisted in attempting to milk the “scandal” for the past four years. They have done so even though repeated previous investigations — including by a GOP-led House intelligence panel — found nothing to contradict the Obama administration’s basic account. Diplomatic security, intelligence and other preparation were inadequate in hindsight; but the violence in Benghazi was over before any effective U.S. military intervention could have been organized. Government failures before, during and after the attacks, such as they were, resulted from a combination of understandable confusion and good-faith mistakes — not conspiracy, coverup, politics or deliberate “abandonment” of U.S. personnel, as the Republican right has so often and so feverishly insinuated.
And now, after two years and $7 million, comes Tuesday’s final report of a Republican-led House select committee, which adds exactly nothing substantial to the story. It’s true that the panel’s investigation did, along the way, help trigger the revelation of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which is a real issue. On the most sensitive point, however — Ms. Clinton’s personal culpability for what happened in Benghazi — the committee came up empty. Its report contains dozens of pages on the now-famous early statements from the administration implying the attacks were motivated by Arab-world reaction to an anti-Islamic video on the Internet. But even this exhaustive review produces no proof that this messaging resulted from a politically motivated attempt to play down terrorism, as opposed to a genuine factual dispute among State Department and CIA officials, compounded by faulty verbal formulations by then-Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and other hastily briefed administration spokesmen. [The Washington Post, 6/28/16]
Boston Globe Editorial Board: “Republicans Hit Dead End On Benghazi,” Their Report “Landed With A Thud.” The Boston Globe’s editorial board wrote that the report “landed with a thud,” and “yet again” showed “the State Department under Clinton did not ‘stand down,’ and US military forces in Europe could not have reached the city in time to stop the attack.” From the June 29 editorial:
AFTER THEIR Benghazi report landed with a thud in Washington on Tuesday, Republicans in Congress face an important decision. They can double down on the conspiracy theories, and try to keep the so-called scandal alive in an effort to hurt Hillary Clinton in November. Or they can recognize that the party’s continuing obsession with Benghazi only hurts itself and does nothing to help national security or the American people.
The killing of a US diplomat and three other Americans in the Libyan city of Benghazi in 2012 was a tragedy. Libya was — and remains — a chaotic place. As the latest report yet again shows, the State Department under Clinton did not “stand down,” and US military forces in Europe could not have reached the city in time to stop the attack.
If leading Republicans despise Trump as much as they claim, they need to stop making it so easy for him by flogging fake scandals like Benghazi. Meanwhile, Democrats can only hope that, in Obama’s words, they please proceed. [The Boston Globe, 6/29/16]
LA Times Editorial Board: “None Of These Conclusions” In The Report “Is New.” The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board wrote that “none of these conclusions in the report by Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi is new, despite devoting two years of staff time and $7 million in tax dollars to the effort.” The board added that the committee “was a cynical exercise designed to put the Obama administration — and particularly Hillary Clinton — on trial.” From the June 28 editorial:
Readers of the latest congressional report about the deaths of four Americans at a U.S. outpost in Benghazi in 2012 will learn that there was woefully inadequate security there; that the U.S. military wasn’t in a position to attempt a timely rescue; and that Obama administration officials inaccurately described the attack as the outgrowth of protests in Libya over an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube.
The problem is that none of these conclusions in the report by Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi is new, despite devoting two years of staff time and $7 million in tax dollars to the effort. As Democratic members of the committee observed in a statement that pre-empted Tuesday’s release of the report, “The evidence obtained by the select committee confirms the core findings already issued by many previous investigations into the attacks in Benghazi.”
That’s not surprising, because the genesis of this committee wasn’t a desire to acquire additional knowledge about the attack that took the life of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and improve security for diplomats in the future; it was a cynical exercise designed to put the Obama administration — and particularly Hillary Clinton — on trial (at public expense) in an effort to help Republicans win back the White House.
The attack on the Benghazi compound was a tragedy and an indictment of lax security and poor military preparedness. But its prolonged politicization by Republicans has been unseemly. With the publication of this report, the party should finally move on. [Los Angeles Times, 6/28/16]
Miami Herald Editorial Board: The “Dud” Report “Packed All The Explosive Punch Of A 5-Cent Firecracker.” The Miami Herald’s editorial board wrote the the report “packed all the explosive punch of a 5-cent firecracker” and “Cleared former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of the absurd accusation that she somehow knew about the attack on the diplomatic compound in Libya before it happened and did nothing about it.” The board added that the report had “no startling new revelations, no bombshells.” From the June 28 editorial:
The long-awaited report by House Republicans on Benghazi released Tuesday packed all the explosive punch of a 5-cent firecracker. Yes, it found a series of failings by the national security bureaucracy, but here’s what else it did: Cleared former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of the absurd accusation that she somehow knew about the attack on the diplomatic compound in Libya before it happened and did nothing about it.
The GOP-led committee’s desire to find evidence of malfeasance by Ms. Clinton to support all the conspiracy theories surrounding Benghazi went unfulfilled. Had there been real facts to support it, surely this committee would have found it. After all, that was the panel’s real mission, despite the talk of concern about national security.
Instead, the minutely detailed, 800-page document produced by the committee assigned blame far beyond Secretary Clinton’s State Department. As the McClatchy news story declared, “Actions of the Pentagon, FBI and intelligence community were also critiqued.”
In terms of the big picture, there were no startling new revelations, no bombshells. But then, that was probably never the intent. The purpose all along was clearly to prolong the controversy in the hope of finding something — anything — that would produce embarrassing headlines for former Secretary of State Clinton just before her expected nomination as the Democratic candidate for president. [Miami Herald, 6/28/16]
USA Today Editorial Board: The Report “Found Virtually Nothing About Clinton’s Actions That Had Not Been Previously Reported.” USA Today’s editorial board wrote the report “found virtually nothing about Clinton’s actions that had not been previously reported and that the committee was “fashioned as way of tarnishing Clinton's presidential prospects.” From the June 29 editorial:
To that end they created a select committee to investigate Benghazi, even after seven less politicized congressional panels and one State Department commission had already done so. The result is an 800-page report (longer than the 9/11 commission’s findings) released Tuesday.
Thickness should not be confused with revelation. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a bigger waste of government resources or a greater indication of Congress’ oversight role devolving into rank partisanship.
The inquiry found virtually nothing about Clinton’s actions that had not been previously reported. So it focused on general criticisms of the actions taken by the departments of State and Defense as well as the White House and the CIA.
Did the investigation find reasons to be critical of the government’s actions before, during and after the attacks that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead? Sure. It’s impossible to spend two years and $7 million probing government and not find fault. But this inquest was never meant never meant as fact-finding and constructive criticism. It was fashioned as way of tarnishing Clinton's presidential prospects.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., revealed this last fall when he boasted of how the inquiry was hurting her in the polls. “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” he told Fox News. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today?” [USA Today, 6/29/16]
NY Times’ Carol Giacomo: The Report “Turned Up No Great Bombshell” Or “Evidence Of Wrongdoing” By Clinton. New York Times editorial board member Carol Giacomo wrote the report was “the culmination of a massive wasted effort that can only be seen as a Republican political vendetta against Hillary Clinton” and “a failure” which “turned up no great bombshell, no new evidence of wrongdoing by Mrs. Clinton.” From the June 29 opinion piece:
After more than two years and over $7 million, the eighth investigation into the Benghazi attacks has finally issued its report, the culmination of a massive wasted effort that can only be seen as a Republican political vendetta against Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
In the end, as hard as it tried, the Republican-led congressional panel turned up no great bombshell, no new evidence of wrongdoing by Mrs. Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the 2012 attack, when Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
By most reasonable measures, the probe was a failure for which the Republicans and the panel chairman, Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, should be publicly excoriated. But it was a political success in the cynical way that Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, predicted it would be.
Now that this report is out, that should be the end of it. As Mrs. Clinton said on Tuesday, “it’s time to move on.” [The New York Times, 6/29/16]
For more information, visit Benghazihoax.com
This post has been updated to include additional examples.