The State Department's failure to heed warnings and requests for more security by diplomatic staff left the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, and its CIA annex vulnerable to the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks that ultimately took the lives of four Americans, according to an unclassified Senate Intelligence Committee report released Wednesday. The report, which the committee approved by a voice vote, concluded that the attacks could have been prevented and makes several recommendations for improving security of U.S. diplomatic facilities in areas where U.S. personnel are likely to face threats.
The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, better known as the Senate Intelligence Committee, published an 85-page report (pdf) today on the attack that left four Americans dead in Benghazi in September 2012. Its findings will likely seem pretty familiar.
If this seems to cover familiar ground, that's because previous investigations have led to very similar conclusions. The Washington Post's Aaron Blake noted that Republicans, especially those eager to tear down former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are likely to be "sorely disappointed" by the findings.
That's clearly true. As Adam Serwer's report makes clear, there was no "stand down" order; Susan Rice did nothing wrong; and there was no White House interference with the creation of post-attack talking points. Indeed, of all the various Republican allegations about a conspiracy, there remains literally no evidence to bolster the far-right paranoia.
Indeed, if GOP officials who tried to destroy Susan Rice's reputation apologize now that their attacks have been discredited, I remain confident that she'd be gracious about their misguided smear campaign.
All of this, however, leads to a larger question: just how much more will it take to convince the Republican conspiracy theorist they were wrong?
I did a little digging this afternoon and found that over the course of the last 15 months, the deadly attack in Benghazi has now been investigated by:
* the independent State Department Accountability Review Board, led by former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and career diplomat Thomas Pickering;
* the Senate Intelligence Committee;
* the Senate Armed Services Committee;
* the House Intelligence Committee,
* the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee;
* the House Armed Services Committee;
* the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform;
* and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
And those are just the official investigations, led by current and former U.S. officials, and don't include investigative reports from journalists at major news organizations.
After all of this scrutiny, there's still no evidence of a cover-up or a conspiracy. None. The allegations raised by the Obama administration's fiercest and angriest critics are still without substantiation.
Given the latest report, which reinforces the previous reports, are Republicans finally prepared to move on to some other alleged conspiracy? Of course not. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) saw the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee and said, "It should be clear, even to my critics by now, that Benghazi is bigger than Watergate."
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) added, "I'm familiar with cover-ups throughout history, the Pentagon Papers, Iran-Contra, all of them. This is gonna go down as the greatest cover-up in history because the president and Susan Rice both knew it was an organized terrorist attack and deliberately sent Susan Rice to tell the American people it was not."
It doesn't matter that they're wrong; they don't care. They start with the conclusion and try to work backwards to find evidence that satisfies their goal. If the evidence doesn't match the preconceived answer, then there's a problem with the evidence, not the assumptions.