Bipartisan report on Benghazi from Senate committee debunks Republican witch-hunt
David Ignatius NAILS IT:
The Senate intelligence committee made headlines this week by reporting that the 2012 attack in Benghazi was preventable. But frankly, we knew that. The deeper message of the bipartisan report was that Republicans in Congress wasted a year arguing about what turned out to be mostly phony issues.
The Republican Party’s Benghazi obsession was the weird backdrop for foreign-policy debate through much of last year. Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) used it as a pretext for blocking administration nominations. Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.) used the issue to impugn the integrity and independence of a review conducted by retired Adm. Mike Mullen and former ambassador Thomas Pickering.
Driving the Republican jihad was a claim, first reported in October 2012 by Fox News, that CIA personnel had wanted to respond more quickly to the Benghazi attack but were ordered to “stand down,” perhaps by political higher-ups. Although this claim was promptly rebutted by CIA officials, it was repeated by Fox News at least 85 times, according to a review by the liberal advocacy group Media Matters. This barrage fueled Republican charges that the Democrats were engaging in a coverup.
The Senate intelligence report addressed this inflammatory charge head-on. “The committee explored claims that there was a ‘stand down’ order given to the security team at the annex. Although some members of the security team expressed frustration that they were unable to respond more quickly to the mission compound, the committee found no evidence of intentional delay or obstruction by the chief of [the CIA] base or any other party.”
The Senate panel also rejected the insinuation, made repeatedly by Republicans, that the Obama administration failed to scramble available military assets that could have defended the Benghazi annex and saved the lives of the four American victims. “There were no U.S. military resources in position to intervene in short order in Benghazi,” the report says flatly. “The committee has reviewed the allegations that U.S. personnel . . . prevented the mounting of any military relief effort during the attacks, but the Committee has not found any of these allegations to be substantiated.”
These are bipartisan findings, mind you, endorsed by the panel’s Republican members as well as Democrats. GOP members offered some zingers in their additional minority views, but the Democrats rightly credited their colleagues for standing up to the right-wing spin machine: “We worked together on a bipartisan basis to dispel the many factual inaccuracies and conspiracy theories related to the Benghazi attacks.”