One of the longest, costliest, and most divisive congressional investigations in history is now coming to a close as the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report this morning.
According to the New York Times, no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was found regarding the 2012 attacks in Libya that left four Americans dead.
The 800-page report, however, included some new details about the night of the attacks, and the context in which it occurred, and it delivered a broad rebuke of government agencies like the Defense Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department — and the officials who led them — for failing to grasp the acute security risks in Benghazi, and especially for maintaining outposts in there that they could not protect.
The committee, led by Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, also harshly criticized an internal State Department investigation that it said had allowed officials like Mrs. Clinton, then the secretary of state, to effectively choose who would investigate their actions. In addition, it reiterated Republicans’ complaints that the Obama administration had sought to thwart the investigation by withholding witnesses and evidence.
Debunking a conspiratorial accusation by many on the right, the report conceded that United States military forces stationed in Europe could not have reached Benghazi in time to rescue those who died, among them Christopher Stevens who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Libya.
“The assets ultimately deployed by the Defense Department in response to the Benghazi attacks were not positioned to arrive before the final lethal attack,” the report said. “The fact that this is true does not mitigate the question of why the world’s most powerful military was not positioned to respond.”
The results of the investigation, which took 2 years at a price of $7 million in tax payers’ money, is sure to further damage the credibility of those who championed the inquiry, with many claiming that its sole intent was to damage Clinton’s prospects of becoming president.
“After more than two years and more than $7 million in taxpayer funds, the committee report has not found anything to contradict the conclusions of the multiple, earlier investigations,” Brian Fallon, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said in a statement.
The committee’s most notable revelation – although unrelated to Benghazi – was Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server during her four years as secretary of state, sparking separate investigations into whether classified material was handled improperly.
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