The House Intelligence Committee’s report on the 2012 terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, is undermining years of GOP talking points—and some Republicans, understandably, aren’t taking it well.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, for one, says the committee, led by outgoing Michigan Republican Mike Rogers, was “co-opted by the CIA” and produced a “fundamentally misleading “ report. Even Rogers is backtracking, saying he didn’t examine the role of the State Department and the White House in the response to the attack.
Back in May, Rogers warned that his colleagues “should not let this investigation get into conspiracy theories,” and the committee seems to have avoided them. Instead the report resolves many questions about the attack that cost the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, and discredits several of the most histrionic claims about it.
Here are five claims by current and former members of Congress about Benghazi that the report at least partially rebuts:
1. The safety of American personnel at the American consulate in Libya was undermined by a “stand down order.”
The report makes clear that despite what outgoing House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has insisted, there was no stand down order: “No CIA officer was told to stand down.” Instead, “there were mere tactical disagreements about the speed with which the team should depart prior to securing additional security assets,” and officers on the ground acted in “a timely and appropriate manner,” it concludes.
2. The Obama administration ignored calls for help and committed “fatal errors and possible crimes” in its response.
Rebutting repeated claims by fringe Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), the report finds that those on the ground in Benghazi “received all military support available…there was neither a stand down order nor a denial of air support, and no American was left behind.” Further, while the report raises concerns about the process behind writing the talking points then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice used to discuss the attack on television, the report concludes: “U.S. personnel made reasonable tactical decisions.”
3. CIA agents present were polygraphed repeatedly in an effort to determine if any of them were leaking to the media.
While Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has compared the Obama administration’s “coverup” of Benghazi to Watergate, 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 at Benghazi.” Needless to say, the report also concludes that unlike Watergate, the “Executive Branch agencies fully cooperated with the Committee’s investigation.”
4. Hillary Clinton “got away with murder” with Benghazi.
Sorry, Lindsey Graham: “There was no intelligence failure prior to the attacks,” the report says, there was “no specific tactical warning” of any threat to the consulate in Benghazi. Despite the South Carolina senator’s claims, the committee found that while there was sufficient intelligence to discern that the security situation in Libya was deteriorating, no intelligence indicated “planning or intentions for attacks on the Benghazi facility on or about September 11, 2012.”
5. Americans begged for help at Benghazi and none ever came. The only rescuers were Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods, two former Navy SEALs.
Rep.Michele Bachmann, (R-MN) said Doherty and Woods “defied orders and chose to go to the aid of their brothers” when no other help was forthcoming. The report makes clear that Doherty responded to the attack as a part of a team under orders from the CIA station chief in Tripoli and that others came immediately to the aid of the Americans in Benghazi. Resources were promptly diverted to rescue those under attack, the committee found. Bachmann’s other claim—that the Benghazi attack might be the judgment of God—was not addressed by the report.