Dems: Clinton never denied Benghazi security

The interior of the burnt US consulate building in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi following an attack on the building on 11 September. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)
The interior of the burnt US consulate building in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi following an attack on the building on 11 September. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

Washington - Democrats on the House Benghazi panel said in a report Monday that security at the Libya facility the night of 9/11, 2012 was "woefully inadequate", but that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton never personally denied any requests from diplomats for additional protection.

The panel's five Democrats said after a two-year investigation that the military could not have done anything differently on the night of the attacks to save the lives of four Americans killed in Libya. US Ambassador Chris Stevens died in one of the two assaults that night at the US outpost and CIA annex.

Democrats' release of their own report heightened the partisanship of the inquiry, which has been marked by accusations of Obama administration stonewalling and finger-pointing. Republicans on the panel missed a self-imposed deadline to issue a report "before summer", but the Democrats' move in issuing their report could spur the GOP's final product.

Whatever the timing, the Republican report is certain to have repercussions for Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

The Democrats said they regretted that their 344-page report was not bipartisan, but said Republicans left them little choice after conducting "one of the longest and most partisan congressional investigations in history".

While the GOP-led panel's two-year inquiry obtained additional details about the twin attacks in Benghazi, it did not fundamentally alter conclusions of previous investigations, the Democrats said.

Democrats blamed inadequate security in Benghazi on decisions made by mid-level officials at the State Department and said that, contrary to repeated claims by Republicans, neither Clinton nor anyone else intentionally delayed the military's response or ordered a "stand down". The Democrats called GOP claims of a stand-down order baseless "and offensive to our men and women in uniform".

The report also disputes a Republican charge that the White House intentionally misled the American public by casting the Benghazi assault as one of the many protests over an offensive, anti-Muslim video, instead of a calculated terrorist attack that occurred on President Barack Obama's watch.

The Democrats said that the "assessments and information" that the CIA and other intelligence agencies provided to US government officials "evolved" after the attacks, but were not influenced by the upcoming 2012 presidential election or any other political factors.

Obama's critics have zeroed in on the talking points, a reference to a memo prepared for lawmakers and then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice to help her get ready for appearances on Sunday news shows to discuss the attack less than a week after it occurred.

The Democrats said not a single witness that appeared before the Benghazi committee "identified evidence that intelligence assessments or CIA talking points provided to Congress and Ambassador Rice were influenced by political considerations", according to the report.


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