'Tragic failure of leadership': House committee blasts Obama admin and Clinton in Benghazi report

The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group said to have been protesting a film being produced in the United States September 11, 2012. © Esam Al-Fetori
House Republicans have released their committee’s investigation into the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans. The report says the Obama administration dragged its feet for political reasons instead of properly responding.

The Benghazi Select Committee released its report on Tuesday morning, shedding new light on the inadequate response of the US government in the face a rapidly deteriorating security situation ahead of the September 11, 2012 attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his colleagues.

Democrats, many of whom opposed even creating the investigatory committee, have maintained that no military forces could have possibly responded in time about an imminent attack on the diplomatic consulate.

Hillary Clinton, who is at the center of the controversy due to serving as secretary of state at the time, had told the committee last year that there was no intelligence that indicated a planned attack.

The 802-page report, however, says that there was early intelligence indicating that the Americans in Benghazi were not safe with only two security guards, and that the Clinton and a top aide, Patrick Kennedy, should have realized this.

"Despite President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s clear orders to deploy military assets, nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began,” the report says.

While the Defense Department ordered military assets to deploy to the consulate, the report says that conflicting orders from the State Department about whether the forces should wear military or civilian attire delayed any such deployment.

“During the course of three hours, [a commander] and his Marines changed in and out of their uniforms four times," the report said.

In another section, the report appeared to claim that the US government didn’t even know who its allies in Libya were at the time. It notes that while early reports found that 35 Americans saved from the compound by a "quasi-governmental militia” that was officially friendly to the US, they were actually rescued by the “Libyan Military Intelligence," a group of military officers loyal to the Gaddafi regime that the US toppled a year earlier.

"In other words, some of the very individuals the United States helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution were the only Libyans that came to the assistance of the United States on the night of the Benghazi attacks," the report states.

Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), more conservative members of the committee, wrote a 48-page addendum to the latest report that was more critical of Clinton.

"What we did find was a tragic failure of leadership – in the run-up to the attack and the night of – a and an administration that, so blinded by politics and its desire to win an election, disregarded a basic duty of government: Tell the people the truth," the report said. "And for those reasons, Benghazi is and always will be, an American tragedy."

The majority report comes a day after the committee’s Democratic minority released a report of their own, criticizing the committee as wasteful, and said that the Defense Department “could not have done anything differently” to prevent the attack from occurring.

READ MORE: Hillary Clinton escapes censure from House Democrats over Benghazi scandal

The Democrats’ report admits that the State Department had “woefully inadequate” security at the Benghazi compound, but defended Clinton, saying that she “never personally denied any requests for additional security.”

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina), who served as chairman of the committee, denied accusations that the probe targeted Clinton, saying at a Tuesday press conference that the Republican majority’s report contains less mentions of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee than the one released by Democrats.

“Now, I simply ask the American people to read this report for themselves, look at the evidence we have collected, and reach their own conclusions,” Gowdy said in a statement. “You can read this report in less time than our fellow citizens were taking fire and fighting for their lives on the rooftops and in the streets of Benghazi.”

Clinton spoke spoke about the report at a press conference later on Tuesday, claiming that the new report has found nothing to contradict any of earlier investigations.

“I want us to stay focused on the important work of diplomacy and development," Clinton said. "That’s especially true in dangerous places. We cannot withdraw or retreat from the world. America needs a presence.”

“I’ll leave it to others to characterize this report, but it’s pretty clear that it's time to move on," she added.