On Tuesday, after two years of inquiry that produced 16,000 pages in transcripts, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report on the 2012 attacks that left four Americans dead. The 800-page report found no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton.
This is, of course, a disappointment to the Republicans on the highly-partisan panel, and as such they are making as much hay of the new information that they were able to turn up.
“The assets ultimately deployed by the Defense Department in response to the Benghazi attacks were not positioned to arrive before the final lethal attack,” the committee wrote. “The fact that this is true does not mitigate the question of why the world’s most powerful military was not positioned to respond.”
“What was disturbing from the evidence the Committee found was that at the time of the final lethal attack,” they added, “no asset ordered deployed by the Secretary had even left the ground.
The select committee interviewed at least 107 witnesses and reviewed 75,000 pages of documents. The investigation cost $7 million and taken longer than Congressional inquiries into 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Republicans blame President Obama for stonewalling their investigation, adding to its length and expense.
The Democrats on the committee released their own report on Monday. “In our opinion,” they wrote, “Chairman Gowdy has been conducting this investigation like an overzealous prosecutor desperately trying to land a front-page conviction rather than a neutral judge of facts seeking to improve the security of our diplomatic corps.”
House Republicans added, inadvertently at times, to the general sense that the committee was focusing too intently on Mrs. Clinton, even though she was never suspected of directly mishandling the Benghazi situation. Democrats seized on comments by the House majority leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, who boasted on Fox News in September that the committee’s work had put a dent in Mrs. Clinton’s poll numbers.
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” Mr. McCarthy said. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.”
Those comments helped derail Mr. McCarthy’s bid to succeed Speaker John A. Boehner. Mr. Gowdy has long disavowed the remarks, saying the discovery of the private email server was highly unexpected and not a focus of his continuing work.
The Democrat’s report concluded that, while mistakes had been made, the U.S. military could not have done anything differently that would have saved the lives of those killed.