The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SCCI) has released it’s long-awaited report on what did (and did not) happen in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 and what the Obama Administration said (and didn’t say) about it.
The attacks led to the death of four Americans including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.
The entire report is 85 pages long with about half of that devoted to appendices and to an “Additional Views” section by committee members. The SCCI is made up of 15 members; Eight Democrats and seven Republicans.
As my knowledge of intelligence matters is limited to thinking about how the next Bond film should use a Tesla S model as his Bond-car, I went looking for what I considered to be an unbiased reading of the report.
I neither wanted the Sean Hannity nor the Chris Matthews version.
The Washington Post’s Adam Goldman and Anne Gearan provided a dispassionate summary of the report in which they state:
The bipartisan report laid out more than a dozen findings regarding the assaults on a diplomatic compound and a CIA annex in the city. It said the State Department failed to increase security at its mission despite warnings, and blamed intelligence agencies for not sharing information about the existence of the CIA outpost with the U.S. military.
Remember, the original claim by the Obama Administration was that the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was a copy-cat demonstration (of one in Cairo) against a film produced in the U.S. that did not portray the Prophet Mohammed in a suitable light.
According to the report, the first set of talking points from the CIA contained the following:
We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the US Consulate and its annex.
Yet, two days after the attack CNN was able to report:
A pro-al Qaeda group responsible for a previous armed assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is the chief suspect in Tuesday’s attack … sources tracking militant Islamist groups in eastern Libya say.
Indeed, one of the “findings” in the Committee report is:
The State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) did not disseminate any independent analysis in the year following the Benghazi attacks.
In an August 2013 piece, the Wall Street Journal said that in the Fall of 2012 President Obama “stated simply that al Qaeda was ‘on the run'” even though his advisors were making a distinction between al Qaeda in Pakistan and its affiliates in the Middle East and North Africa.
There is nothing in the Senate report indicating a cover-up on the part of the Administration even though the attack occurred just 56 days prior to the Presidential election on November 6, 2012. An official government analysis showing heavy al Qaeda involvement (rather than a spontaneous demonstration gone horribly wrong) would have certainly been a major story line.
But, Senator Susan Collins (R-Me), in a separate view, wrote that it should have been a bigger piece of this report:
I believe that more emphasis should have been placed on … the Administration’s initial misleading of the American people about the terrorist nature of the attack.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not singled out for any particular wrong-doing, either pre- or post-attack, but it does not take a PhD in Political Science to know that if she decides to enter the race for President Benghazi will be a significant issue in her campaign.
Even without a cover-up of the nature of the attack, the report is very critical of the U.S. intelligence, military, and diplomatic services which appear to have been unconcerned about the security situation in Benghazi.
The official Committee report (i.e. the part signed by all members)
It is … imperative that those in decision-making positions in Washington, D.C. heed the concerns and wisdom of those on the front lines and make resource and security decisions with those concerns in mind.
The United States government did not meet this standard of care in Benghazi.
“The United States government” is the Administration of President Barack Obama.