Quietly on a Friday, just two weeks after the mid-term elections, the Republican-led House Select Committee on Intelligence released its final report on the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, clearing the administration of any wrong-doing.
The investigation took over two years and thousands of hours of “asking questions, poring over documents, reviewing intelligence assessments, reading cables and emails” and holding “a total of 20 committee events and hearing,” according to Republican Committee Chair Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and is supposed to serve as the final word from the House.
This report, and the nearly two years of intensive investigation it reflects, is meant to serve as the definitive House statement on the Intelligence Community’s activities before, during, and after the tragic events that caused the deaths of four brave Americans.
The report drew seven conclusions, below, confirming that
1. “The CIA ensured sufficient security” and “without a requirement to do so, ably and bravely assisted… on the night of the attack,” that “their actions saved lives.”
2. “Appropriate U.S. personnel made reasonable tactical decisions that night.”
3. There was “no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support.”
4. “There was no intelligence failure prior to the attacks.”
5. There was “no evidence that any officer was intimidated, wrongly forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement or otherwise kept from speaking to Congress, or polygraphed because of their presence in Benghazi.”
6. There was “no evidence that the CIA conducted unauthorized activities in Benghazi and no evidence that the IC [intelligence community] shipped arms to Syria.”
7. The committee did find that the “Administration’s initial public narrative on the causes and motivations for the attacks were not fully accurate,” but attributed that to “contradictory and conflicting intelligence that came in after the attacks.”
Below is the report summary, broken down into sections for ease of reading with emphasis added:
In summary, the Committee first concludes that the CIA ensured sufficient security for CIA facilities in Benghazi and, without a requirement to do so, ably and bravely assisted the State Department on the night of the attacks. Their actions saved lives. Appropriate U.S. personnel made reasonable tactical decisions that night, and the Committee found no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support. The Committee, however, received evidence that the State Department security personnel, resources, and equipment were unable to counter the terrorist threat that day and required CIA assistance.
Second, the Committee finds that there was no intelligence failure prior to the attacks. In the months prior, the IC [intelligence community] provided intelligence about previous attacks and the increased threat environment in Benghazi, but the IC did not have specific, tactical warning of the September 11 attacks.
Third, the Committee finds that a mixed group of individuals, including those affiliated with Al Qa’ida, participated in the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, although the Committee finds that the intelligence was and remains conflicting about the identities, affiliations, and motivations of the attackers.
Fourth, the Committee concludes that after the attacks, the early intelligence assessments and the Administration’s initial public narrative on the causes and motivations for the attacks were not fully accurate. There was a stream of contradictory and conflicting intelligence that came in after the attacks. The Committee found intelligence to support CIA’s initial assessment that the attacks had evolved out of a protest in Benghazi; but it also found contrary intelligence, which ultimately proved to be the correct intelligence. There was no protest. The CIA only changed its initial assessment about a protest on September 24, 2012, when closed caption television footage became available on September 18, 2012 (two days after Ambassador Susan Rice spoke), and after the FBI began publishing its interviews with U.S. officials on the ground on September 22, 2012.
Fifth, the Committee finds that the process used to generate the talking points HPSCI asked for-and which were used for Ambassador Rice’s public appearances-was flawed. HPSCI asked for the talking points solely to aid Members’ ability to communicate publicly using the best available intelligence at the time, and mistakes were made in the process of how those talking points were developed.
Finally, the Committee found no evidence that any officer was intimidated, wrongly forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement or otherwise kept from speaking to Congress, or polygraphed because of their presence in Benghazi. The Committee also found no evidence that the CIA conducted unauthorized activities in Benghazi and no evidence that the IC shipped arms to Syria.