Senate report: Benghazi attack was 'preventable'; no cover-up

Posted Jan 16, 2014 by Brett Wilkins
The Senate Intelligence Committee has released a scathing report that concluded the 2012 terrorist attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya was "preventable" and that the State Department failed to provide adequate security there.
File photo: Outside of the U.S. consulate  which was attacked and set on fire in 2012 by gunmen
File photo: Outside of the U.S. consulate, which was attacked and set on fire in 2012 by gunmen
The New York Times reports the bipartisan committee found the state department at fault for failing to boost security in response to numerous intelligence warnings about the deteriorating security situation around Benghazi.
"The committee found the attacks were preventable, based on extensive intelligence reporting on the terrorist activity in Libya-- to include prior threats and attacks against Western targets-- and given the known security shortfalls at the US Mission," a statement accompanying the release of the 58-page declassified report said.
The report is the first public probe of the breakdown in communications between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and State Department in the weeks leading up to the September 11, 2012 attack on the US diplomatic compound where Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service information management officer Sean Smith, and embassy security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were killed.
The Senate report, which does not list any specific intelligence warnings about the impending attack, criticizes the late ambassador, questioning his judgment and actions in the weeks leading up to his death. It also blames US intelligence agencies for failing to share information about the existence of the CIA outpost, or annex, with US military officials. The committee found that AFRICOM, the US military command in Africa, did not know about the annex and that the Pentagon lacked sufficient resources to adequately defend the State Department compound in the event of an attack.
"In spite of the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi and ample strategic warnings, the United States government simply did not do enough to prevent these attacks and ensure the safety of those serving in Benghazi," Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the ranking Republican on the committee, said.
The report also detailed how the FBI investigation into the attack has been hindered in Libya, and how at least 15 people "supporting the investigation or otherwise helpful to the United States" have been killed there. It is not known whether those killings are related to the probe.
Significantly, the investigation found no evidence of a cover-up, as alleged by many Republican lawmakers and conservative pundits. The report also only mentions Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has been blasted by Republicans as responsible for the attack, once, which is sure to disappoint conservatives hoping to damage Clinton ahead of what most presume will be a bid for the White House in 2016.
The State Department responded to the Senate report by issuing an update on measures it has taken to improve security at foreign posts.
"While risk can never be completely eliminated from our diplomatic and development duties, we must always work to minimize it," the department said in a statement.