WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — House Benghazi committee Republicans implored Americans to read the final report of their investigation of the deadly 2012 attacks on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday at the Capitol, Chairman Trey Gowdy insists the report contains new information that should reshape views of the attacks that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
EXTRA: Read The Full Report
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, the exhaustive report took two years, 107 interviews, and more than $7-million to com
Gowdy said reading it “pillar to post” would take less time than Americans spent fighting for their lives that night.
“There is new information on what happened in Benghazi and that information should fundamentally change the way you view what happened in Benghazi and there are recommendations made to make sure it does not happen again,” he said.
The 800-page report describes the event, government communications about the attacks and events leading up to the attacks, CBS News reported.
Gowdy and other Republicans accuse the Obama administration of stonewalling important documents and witnesses. It also faults the military for its slow response sending resources to Benghazi despite clear orders from the president on down.
Gowdy said “nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost eight hours after the attacks began.”
“There are only three assets that ever made it to Benghazi: two unarmed drones and the team from Tripoli that deployed themselves,” Gowdy said. “Washington had access to real-time information, but that real-time information did not inform and instruct the decisions made in Washington.”
He said the Libyan forces that evacuated Americans from the CIA annex in Benghazi were not affiliated with any of the militias the CIA or State Department had developed a relationship with during the previous 18 months.
Gowdy said the report captures “two different images” of what happened leading up to and during the attack and the decisions made in Washington by Obama administration officials, CBS News reported.
It also found that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to provide better security for the Benghazi consulate, leaving it vulnerable, CBS2’s Mark Albert reported.
Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, released a video statement Tuesday about the report.
“It makes clear that officials in Washington failed our men and women on the ground when they were in need of help. And the report makes key recommendations for how we can prevent such a tragedy from happening again,” Ryan said.
Democrats say the panel’s primary goal was to undermine Clinton’s presidential bid. She testified before the congressional panel during an 11-hour hearing last October.
Clinton’s campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement the report has “not found anything to contradict the conclusions of the multiple, earlier investigations.”
Clinton’s campaign has slammed the report as partisan. She said “I’ll leave it to others to characterize this report, but I think it’s time to move on.”
At a campaign stop in Denver on Tuesday, Clinton said that after more than two years, the committee “found nothing — nothing — to contradict the conclusions of the independent accountability board,” that previously investigated the attack.
Fallon said that’s evidence the House Benghazi Committee’s chief goal was to politicize the deaths of four people killed in the attack “in order to try to attack the Obama administration and hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”
He said the way in which the committee released the report shows the GOP members of the committee “are clearly seeking to avoid any fact-checking of their discredited conspiracy theories.”
“A select committee that spent more time looking at this matter than Congress spent looking at things like Pearl Harbor, the 9/11 attacks, the response to Hurricane Katrina, the Iran-Contra affair, the assassination of President Kennedy,” White House Press secretary Josh Earnst said.
Republicans on the committee were divided over whether to directly blame Clinton for the events.
One committee member, Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, called Clinton’s actions “morally reprehensible” and said “you have every right to be disgusted” by the response from her and others.
But Gowdy said he’s not “in the business of apportioning culpability.”
“The resolution doesn’t mention Secretary Clinton. Speaker [John] Boehner nor Speaker Ryan have ever asked me to do anything with 2016 presidential politics,” he said. “Speaker Boehner asked me to find out what happened to four of our fellow citizens and I believe that is what I have done.”
Pressed on whether he endorses the GOP bumper-sticker slogan that “Hillary Lied, People Died” Gowdy said: “You don’t see that T-shirt on me, you haven’t seen that bumper sticker on any of my vehicles.”
And Gowdy demurred when asked directly whether Clinton lied. “That’s a word you couldn’t use in a courtroom” the former prosecutor said.
The Libya attacks became immediate political fodder, given their timing in the weeks before President Barack Obama’s re-election and that has not abated despite seven previous congressional investigations.
There has been finger-pointing on both sides over security at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi and whether the White House initially tried to portray the assault as a protest over an offensive, anti-Muslim video, instead of a calculated terrorist attack.
The report found the Obama administration was politically motivated to cite the video as the cause of the attacks and not terrorism, Albert reported.
Democrats released their own report Monday stating that Clinton never personally denied any requests from diplomats for additional security at the U.S. outpost in Benghazi.
Democrats said after a two-year investigation that the military could not have done anything differently that night to save the lives of the four Americans who were killed.
Democrats’ release of their own report heightened the partisanship of the inquiry, which has been marked by finger-pointing on both sides.
The State Department also issued a statement Tuesday, saying that the “essential facts” of the attacks “have been known for some time,” and have been the subject of numerous reviews, including one by an independent review board.
Spokesman Mark Toner said the department had implemented most of the recommendations of the independent review board and was continuing to expand security at its facilities and improve its threat assessment.
“We have made great progress toward making our posts safer since 2012,” Toner said in a statement. “Our priority continues to be carrying out our national security mission while mitigating the risks to our employees.”
Toner said the department cooperated extensively with the House panel, providing more than 50 current and former employees for interviews and over 100,000 pages of documents.
Perhaps the most lasting impact of the committee’s investigation was the revelation that Clinton used a private email server during her time as secretary of state.
Meanwhile, an additional 165 pages of Clinton’s emails during her time at the State Department surfaced Monday, including nearly three dozen that she failed to hand over last year that were sent through her private server, CBS2 reported.
The latest emails were released under court order by the State Department to the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch.
The batch includes 34 new emails Clinton exchanged through her private account with her deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin.
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