Serious Questions Raised Over Benghazi Report Absolving Obama Administration

The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2012.
The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2012. | (Photo: Reuters/Esam Al-Fetori)

While Democrats are using the recently released investigative report on the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack on U.S. facilities to absolve the Obama administration, serious questions are being raised about its shortcomings, which some members of the House Intelligence Committee have acknowledged.

"Internal emails made clear that top Obama administration officials had misled the country about the administration's role in the flawed 'Benghazi talking points' that Susan Rice had used in her Sunday television appearances following the attacks, and that former acting CIA director Michael Morell had misled Congress about the same," write Steve Hayes and Tom Joscelyn in an article in Weekly Standard.

The "Investigative Report on the Terrorist Attacks against U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, September 11-12, 2012" was released by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence about a fortnight ago, suggesting that there were no intelligence failures related to the Benghazi attacks and supporting Obama administration's claims.

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"Other reports made clear that intelligence officials on the ground in Benghazi had reported almost immediately that the assault was a terrorist attack involving jihadists with links to al Qaeda — information that was removed from the materials used to prepare administration officials for their public discussion of the attacks," Hayes and Joscelyn add. "A top White House adviser wrote an email suggesting that the administration affix blame for the attacks on a YouTube video."

"I don't think this is the official government report. It's [the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee] Mike Rogers's report," Rep. Tom Rooney, a Florida Republican who serves on the committee that produced the report, told the Standard. "The members of his own committee don't even agree with it."

The authors allege that some key events were left out in the report, important figures were never mentioned, and well-known controversies, elided. "Congressional testimony on controversial issues was mischaracterized. The authoritative tone of the conclusions was undermined by the notable gaps in evidence presented to support them," they add.

The report adds to "our overall understanding of Benghazi," but "even a cursory read reveals sloppy errors of fact and numerous internal contradictions," the authors go on to say.

"For instance, on one page, the report has a top intelligence officer sending an email from Benghazi on September 15, before a crucial White House meeting on the Benghazi talking points. A few pages later, the report has the same email sent on September 16 and arriving the day after that White House meeting. Elsewhere, the report informs readers that the first CIA assessment of the Benghazi attacks, an Executive Update published internally on September 12, reported that 'the presence of armed assailants from the incident's outset suggests this was an intentional assault and not the escalation of a peaceful protest.' One paragraph later, however, the report tells us that Morell, the agency's point man on Benghazi, testified that the first word there was no protest came on September 14. And later still we are told that the intelligence community didn't have confirmation that there was no protest until surveillance video was recovered on September 18—a full week after the attacks."

Republican members on the committee expressed strong reservations, according to Fox News, which also reported that some of the members stopped coming to committee hearings out of a sense of frustration.

The report is a "reflection of a dysfunctional committee and the reluctant, ad hoc approach to Benghazi of its leadership and top staff," the article in the Standard says.

CIA security staff on the ground in Benghazi who took part in the fighting have also refuted parts of the report, which states "there was no order to 'stand down.'"

"This statement is grossly incorrect. [Kris] Paronto [Member of Benghazi Annex Security Team] stated to the committee, looking Rep. Rogers directly in the eye, that he was delayed and was told to wait twice," Breitbart quoted contractors as saying. "Paronto also stated that the '27' minute delay . . . cost the lives of Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith due to them dying from smoke inhalation—something that takes time. It should also be noted that the exact words 'STAND DOWN' were used by the Chief of Base 'Bob' to [John] Tiegen [CIA security operator] approximately 15 minutes after the initial 'help' call from the DS agents on the radio at the facility under attack."

However, some have supported the report.

"I think the report is reflective of the facts we found," Mike Conaway, Republican from Texas, told the Standard.

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