Bipartisan Senate Panel: Benghazi Attack Could Have Been Prevented

15 people helpful to the United States have since been killed in Benghazi.

benghazi obama

This is a spoke in the wheel for Media Matters' roll out of the murder of four Americans in Benghazi as a Republican "hoax". The report confirms some of the basic facts including the State Department's mishandling and neglect of the situation.

A long-delayed Senate intelligence committee report released on Wednesday spreads blame among the State Department and intelligence agencies for not preventing attacks on two outposts in Libya that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

The bipartisan report lays out more than a dozen findings regarding the assaults on Sept. 11 and 12, 2012 on the diplomatic compound and a CIA annex in the Libyan city of Benghazi. It says the State Department failed to increase security at the sites despite warnings, and faults intelligence agencies for not sharing information about the existence of the CIA outpost with the U.S. military.

It doesn't mention, but clearly demonstrates, that assigning the FBI to the case was a foolish strategy.

The report also notes, chillingly, that the FBI’s investigation into the attacks has been hampered inside Libya, and that 15 people “supporting the investigation or otherwise helpful to the United States” have since been killed in Benghazi. The report says it is unclear whether those killings were related to the investigation.

The lack of protests was known.

The report says that on Sept. 18, 2012, the “FBI and CIA reviewed the closed circuit television video from the Mission facility that showed there were no protests prior to the attacks.”

But it took six more days for intelligence officials to revise their chronology of events and say that “there were no demonstrations or protests” at the diplomatic compound “prior to the attacks.”

It does make efforts to spread some of the blame around...

The report says it was problematic that the CIA and State Department were not working out of the same facility together in the dangerous Benghazi environment. That meant the CIA and its well-trained contractors, who had served in elite U.S. forces, were not on location at the diplomatic outpost in the event of a crisis.

I'm not sure that bundling the CIA and diplomats together would have been a wise idea. We do try to maintain a little distance and the CIA would have credibly thought that such an action would endanger the diplomats and interfere with its own operations.

The State Department should have independently protected its mission instead of relying on the CIA.

The committee found that the military response to the attacks was slow and hindered, but not purposely so. “At approximately 1:15 a.m. Benghazi time, a seven-man reinforcement team of additional U.S. security personnel from Tripoli landed at the Benghazi airport and began to negotiate with the local Libyan militias for transportation and a security convoy,” the report says. The team would not leave the airport for the annex until more than three hours later.

Purposely on the part of the Libyans or the responders? Either way it was a bad decision.

Other elements of the report however fudge the facts.

Six armed CIA employees and a linguist responded to the attack on the diplomatic compound, the report says. About 30 minutes passed before the CIA team arrived on the scene and “exchanged fire with the attackers.” They neither asked permission to come to the aid of the diplomats nor were told to stand down.

That depends on how you define "stand down".

At least one of those security contractors, a former U.S. Army Ranger, was told to “wait” at least twice, and he argued with his security team leader, according to his testimony, related by Westmoreland. Westmoreland declined to share the names of the officers who testified because they are still CIA employees.

So yes they were told to wait, not stand down. Meanwhile another team was indeed prevented from going.

The deputy of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens has told congressional investigators that a team of Special Forces prepared to fly from Tripoli to Benghazi during the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks was forbidden from doing so by U.S. Special Operations Command Africa.