“This attack was preventable”: That is the chilling and inevitable conclusion of a new report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Benghazi. A good deal of the information in the “Review of the Terrorist Attacks on the U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012” has previously been reported, but what makes the 85-page document published today so significant is that Democrats as well as Republicans signed on to its findings.
Some key items in the report:
- The deteriorating security situation in Benghazi was well known in the U.S. intelligence community and documented by both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency in reports dated July 2012, just two months prior to the Benghazi attack. In other words, the State Department knew its people were in danger, but inexplicably, tragically failed to act on the knowledge.
- The September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi showed significant preparation. It encompassed not just the attack on the consulate and the nearby CIA annex, but also an attempted ambush on the CIA security staff who tried to reach the Ansar Al-Sharia controlled hospital where U.S. Ambassador Christopher Steven’s body had been taken. This was no “spontaneous demonstration,” as presented by President Obama and his administration.
- Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s assertions that decisions on security in Benghazi were made by the staff in Libya are simply not factual. Stevens repeatedly pleaded for more security at the Benghazi compound in cables to the State Department. For instance, the compound was attacked on April 6 and June 6, leaving a gaping hole in the perimeter wall. After other countries had pulled out, Clinton wanted to expand the U.S. presence in the name of “normalization.”
- Former Guantanamo Bay detainee and Al Qaeda operative Sufian bin Qumu was among the leaders in the attack. Qumu had been released by the Obama administration, and that he attacked Americans again should be no surprise. U.S. media was able to interview him post the Benghazi attack, but the FBI took weeks even to get to Benghazi. To date, no one has been arrested.
- The State Department showed “a significant amount of resistance” to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s requests for witnesses and documents. One of the gravest documents, which it took months to obtain, was a classified memo of an August 2012 meeting, which revealed that Al Qaeda had no less than 10 training camps in Benghazi.
Republicans on the Intelligence Committee hope that the bipartisan consensus reflected in this report that Benghazi was an Al Qaeda attack will serve as a launching pad for new investigations into the State Department and the White House, whose actions and motivations remain shrouded. Benghazi cannot be dismissed as “a phony scandal,” as the president attempted to do. Much yet waits to be uncovered.