Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, presented the San Francisco Chronicle over the weekend with some striking information. The Intelligence panel, having recently wrapped up a nearly two-year investigation into the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, found “that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given.”
In effect, every Republican conspiracy theory has turned out to be wrong.
But this was based on information from one congressman. Maybe Thompson painted an incomplete picture? Apparently not. Not only did his assessment receive no pushback whatsoever yesterday from GOP lawmakers, but Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, echoed the same findings in an official statement.
This report shows that there was no intelligence failure surrounding the Benghazi attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans. Our investigation found the Intelligence Community warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened … which is consistent with testimony that the attacks appeared to be opportunistic. It also found that a mixed group of individuals including those associated with Al-Qaeda, Qadafi loyalists and other Libyan militias participated in the attack. Additionally, the report shows there was no “stand down order” given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, and no American was left behind.The report also shows that the process used to develop the talking points was flawed, but that the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis. Finally, the report demonstrates that there was no illegal activity or illegal arms sales occurring at U.S. facilities in Benghazi. And there was absolutely no evidence, in documents or testimony, that the Intelligence Community’s assessments were politically motivated in any way.
Jonathan Capehart added, “In short, all of the things that were alleged to have happened didn’t happen. Ruppersberger called the report “a bipartisan, factual, definitive report on what the Intelligence Community did and did not do.”
These findings were “adopted unanimously” by the Republican-led committee. Unless the right is prepared to argue that their own allies are in on the conspiracy, it suggests conservatives have a difficult decision to make.
We could note at this point how interesting it is that the GOP-led Intelligence Committee seemed to quietly wrap up its work in a way to downplay attention for its findings. We could also note that according to Lexis-Nexis transcripts, Fox News, which has had an unhealthy obsession with Benghazi, hasn’t mentioned these new findings to its viewers, even once.
But ultimately, what arguably matters most is what happens next.
There have now been four official, comprehensive reports published on the Benghazi attack: one each from the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the State Department’s independent Accountability Review Board. In addition, the attack has been scrutinized by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Homeland Security Committee, the House Oversight Committee, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, each of which has held hearings.
It’s against this backdrop that House Republicans have said what’s really needed is a brand new committee, led by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the GOP’s hand-picked inquisitor who doesn’t appear to know much about Benghazi, at a cost to taxpayers of several million dollars.
If Republicans are going to go through with this ridiculous stunt with a straight face, perhaps they can explain why they don’t trust the findings of the other congressional Republicans who’ve already found that the unhinged conspiracy theories aren’t true.
Because ultimately, that’s what GOP leaders are saying: that the Republicans on all of these other committees failed to do their jobs properly, making a new committee a necessity. The implication from Speaker Boehner’s office is that the members of his party weren’t competent enough to look at the evidence, so he wants a brand new committee to do it all again.