Benghazi: The Final Report and What It Means
Video from New York Times
BY: Kristina Perry/Contributing Writer
WASHINGTON, DC: The House Select Committee on Benghazi released its final report on Tuesday, finding no wrongdoing by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The costly and highly controversial committee’s report is more than 800 pages, ending in an inconclusive and indictment free conclusion. While the report is not technically finalized until it is accepted by a committee vote scheduled for July 8, it appears that the report will be passed.
The Select Committee investigated the events surrounding the September 11 attack in 2012 on the American Embassy in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Major criticisms of the State Department and the Obama administration focused on the event’s many shortcomings and general lack of security at the embassy.
Short walls surrounded the poorly lit embassy, and primarily Libyan militias, as opposed to American soldiers, managed security. These parameters were unusual for a U.S. embassy because it was a temporary base. Ambassador Stevens was waiting for resources to fortify an official U.S. base in Benghazi, a major goal of his visit.
When U.S. assets arrived from Spain to Benghazi in order to rescue personnel, the attack had already reached its eighth hour. Amid reports that Clinton had ordered U.S. military assets in the area to “stand down,” there was public demand to know whether or not Ambassador Stevens had any direct contact with the Secretary regarding requests for additional security and personnel.
Controversy surrounding Secretary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server emerged from the investigation. Eagerness by the partisan committee to pursue a new line of questioning increased criticism of the committee’s purpose, which some viewed as an attempt to smear Clinton as she entered the 2016 presidential race. Staffers and senators alike claimed that they were released from the committee after focusing on the Benghazi attacks, rather than Clinton’s emails.
While the committee might have officially found no wrongdoing by Secretary Clinton or the Obama administration, Representatives Jim Jordan (R-NY) and Mike Pompeo (R-KS) wrote a 48 page addendum to the official report, strongly criticizing the committee, Clinton, and the Obama administration. The congressmen questioned the decision of the Obama administration to remain in Benghazi, even before the attack occurred, because other embassies had already left due to the quickly deteriorating political situation following the fall of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi.
Clinton’s response to the release of the final report was simple, stating that she would “leave it to others to characterize this report,” but that it was time to “move on.”
Chris Stevens’s family also responded to the report, stating that they do not blame Clinton for his death, and that he was ultimately responsible for being aware of the security situation at the embassy.
The findings of the committee inarguably help Clinton’s campaign instead of hurting it, as the findings back up her repeated claims of no intentional wrongdoing. Given the amount of press and expectation of indictment set by conservative media, the report clearing her of accusations comes as a huge blow to GOP smear efforts. However, as Clinton moves closer to becoming the official Democratic nominee and extends her lead in polls over Trump, she still must face the FBI probe into her use of a private email server and assert her trustworthiness to an increasingly jaded American public.