(Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
A detailed report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the events in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens at the U.S. consulate in Libya, confirmed that President Barack Obama's administration failed to do anything to stop the terrorist attack.
"The failures of Benghazi can be summed up this way: the Americans serving in Libya were vulnerable; the State Department knew they were vulnerable; and no one in the Administration really did anything about it," the 85-page report released on Wednesday stated in its conclusion.
The report, which stated that "the attacks were preventable," added that the role of the White House in the events must be explored, as the Senate remains "without a full understanding" of the talks held between President Obama, the secretary of defense and the secretary of state on the night of the attacks.
The Obama administration has been criticized for the apparent failure to increase security at the Libyan embassy in preparation of the 9/11 anniversary despite intelligence warnings. On the night of Sept. 11, 2012, Islamic terrorists stormed the U.S. diplomatic mission and a CIA annex in the city with guns and bombs, resulting in the deaths of four Americans, including Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith.
Although the Obama administration initially blamed the attack on a controversial Youtube video on the Islamic faith made by a U.S. citizen and said it arose out of a spontaneous demonstration, the State Department later confirmed that what went on was a pre-conceived attack from terrorist groups Ansar al-Shari'a in Benghazi and Ansar al-Shari'a in Darnah.
The Senate report criticized the Obama administration's failure to admit that these were terrorist attacks, and said that officials were "inconsistent and at times misleading in their public statements and failed for days to make clear to the American people that the deaths in Benghazi were the result of a terrorist attack."
Several congressional investigations and hearings have since been held on the U.S. government's knowledge and lack of action ahead of the attacks.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a January 2013 hearing that she takes responsibility for the situation, but denied any knowledge that Stevens himself had expressed "deep and grave concerns about security in Benghazi" two months before his death.
"I did not see these requests. They did not come to me. I did not approve them. I did not deny," Clinton said at the time.
The Obama administration also said that it discussed concerns and appropriate actions with top security officials the night before the Benghazi attack, releasing a press release titled "Readout of the President's Meeting with Senior Administration Officials on Our Preparedness and Security Posture on the Eleventh Anniversary of September 11th."
Fox News reported on Tuesday, however, that it obtained "Top Secret" documents revealing that Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified to Congress last year and revealed that the meeting on the eve of the attacks was simply a "conference call" and that Libya was never even discussed.
"The four Americans who perished in Benghazi deserved better from their country. Their families, who have been waiting over a year for promised justice and answers, are entitled to know the truth about what happened and why," the Senate report noted in its conclusion.
U.S. Senator for Maine Susan Collins argued that "a broken system overseen by senior leadership contributed to the vulnerability of U.S. diplomats and other American personnel in one of the most dangerous cities in the world," describing that as "unacceptable" and criticizing the secretary of state for holding no one accountable for those failures.
Collins added that the responsibility for the attacks lies on the shoulders of the attackers themselves, but noted that Obama and other senior administration officials have so far failed to bring the perpetrators to justice.