Bipartisan Senate report blames Obama administration for not preventing Benghazi attack

posted at 10:41 am on January 15, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

The bombshell here isn’t the blame — it’s that the blame is bipartisan. Normally in these circumstances, a Congressional committee looking into the activities of a current administration will split into partisan conclusions, especially if it’s critical at all. Not this time:

A long-delayed Senate intelligence committee report released on Wednesday spreads blame among the State Department and intelligence agencies for not preventing attacks on two outposts in Libya that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

The bipartisan report lays out more than a dozen findings regarding the assaults on Sept. 11 and 12, 2012 on the diplomatic compound and a CIA annex in the Libyan city of Benghazi. It says the State Department failed to increase security at the sites despite warnings, and faults intelligence agencies for not sharing information about the existence of the CIA outpost with the U.S. military.

The committee determined that the U.S. military command in Africa didn’t know about the CIA annex and didn’t have the resources to defend the diplomatic compound in an emergency.

“The attacks were preventable, based on extensive intelligence reporting on the terrorist activity in Libya—to include prior threats and attacks against Western targets—and given the known security shortfalls at the U.S. Mission,” the panel said in a statement.

The conclusion that State ignored security warnings is a direct slap at the Secretary of State at the time, Hillary Clinton.  The Accountability Review Board tried passing off the blame to lower-ranking careerists, but that effort has been thoroughly discredited by the knowledge of the string of earlier terrorist attacks in Benghazi and the Western flight from the city. The ARB didn’t bother to look into Hillary’s aide in charge of the security decisions, Patrick Kennedy, and it’s difficult now to claim that Kennedy or Hillary were ignorant of those concerns — especially now that State Department whistleblowers have made it clear that Kennedy knew, at the very least.

The coordination between State and the CIA is also partly to blame, according to the report:

The report says it was problematic that the CIA and State Department were not working out of the same facility together in the dangerous Benghazi environment. That meant the CIA and its well-trained contractors, who had served in elite U.S. forces, were not on location at the diplomatic outpost in case of a crisis.

We’ll get back to the coordination point shortly, because it’s not just State taking the blame for this, either. The Senate and House classified hearings on Benghazi exposed how unprepared the Department of Defense was on the night of 9/11 — a rather obvious key date on the calendar — to respond to an attack in a region and city where the lights were clearly flashing bright red:

Over the last year, lawmakers repeatedly expressed disbelief during closed-door briefings with Pentagon and military officials over why the armed forces was ill-equipped to respond to the terrorist attacks on Americans in Benghazi in 2012.

During a May 21 hearing convened by the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Darryl Roberson, the vice director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, simply explained that the military had no realistic options available that day to respond to the multiple attacks that left four Americans dead, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

“It is not like a fire station,” Roberson said of the military during the May hearing. “We don’t have assets to respond like a fire call, jump down the pole and respond for any American that is under fire anywhere in the world.”

Roberson explained that when it comes to protecting diplomats, the Department of Defense’s role is to support the State Department, which has the “primary responsibility for the security” of its people.

But lawmakers expressed bewilderment. “It is embarrassing that you can’t get a plane over there and do a low flyover and drop a sonic boom,” Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz said. “It is embarrassing.”

Ohio Rep. Mike Turner asked Roberson how in the “post-Qadafi” world that “we just send Americans and put them on the ground [in Libya] and don’t have any assets to back up?”

“It was a war zone,” Turner said. “I mean this is not like what is happening in Austria or some other place. You went in and took out [Moammar] Gadhafi. This is a war zone. I mean this is months after a war zone.”

It was a failed state, made obvious by the string of terrorist attacks in the city. One attack blew a hole in the American compound three months before that final assault. While State kept refusing more security resources, other Western nations and even the Red Cross packed up and left Benghazi that year. All the while, as General Carter Ham testified, the Pentagon didn’t do anything to improve readiness to respond in that region even with the knowledge that al-Qaeda affiliates operated openly in eastern Libya and Benghazi, and the anniversary of 9/11 was just around the corner.

Let’s put this together. The State Department, run by Hillary Clinton, and the CIA, run independently by David Petraeus under DNI James Clapper, didn’t coordinate efforts to safeguard the consulate. The DoD under Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta didn’t provide readiness to respond. The common point of leadership among these agencies is … President Barack Obama. That is where the blame lies, and it’s striking that the Senate’s bipartisan report makes that argument, even if indirectly.

And why did the growing menace in Libya get ignored? Obama had spent a year arguing that his intervention against Moammar Qaddafi was the new and correct model for Western military intervention in the Middle East, explicitly drawing a contrast between his actions and those of George Bush in Iraq. If the White House, DoD, and State suddenly had to shift a lot of security and military resources to protect Americans in “liberated” Benghazi — or bug out, like everyone else did — it would have made the failure of that intervention in the larger context of American security all the more obvious in an election cycle that Obama barely won. That’s also why the administration seized on the YouTube video as the primary explanation for getting caught by surprise, rather than just the context of the recruitment for the attack.

The White House’s blameshifting is over, and the Senate and House should start demanding answers from Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, and David Petraeus in light of this report.

Update: Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) agrees, especially in regard to State:

“This bipartisan report is a step forward in our understanding of these events, but should not by any means be viewed as a final verdict. To the extent this report is incomplete, it is not due to the Committee’s unwillingness to investigate, but the State Department’s intransigence.”

To quote Wilford Brimley in Absence of Malice: “Wonderful thing, subpoenas.”


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Comment pages: 1 2

This fiasco involving Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton-neither of whom are subject to normal criticism,racism and sexism don’t you know-demonstrates that we must never again elect a president that is not a white man.

Mason on January 15, 2014 at 1:22 PM

No, I’m saying that you’re wrong about what the NEO directive is dictating.

blink on January 15, 2014 at 1:25 PM

It is pretty straight forward.

Patriot Vet on January 15, 2014 at 1:29 PM

However, non-standard processes can often be initiated on an “as available” basis. For example, a certain squadron might be forced by directive to make a certain support aircraft and crew available within 12 hours, but it’s possible that the aircraft and crew could be ready in 6 hours depending on their maintenance, training, and operational schedule. The decision to shave the response time down to 6 hours can often be bureaucratic. Top-down pushes from a President can sometimes cut through this bureaucracy.

blink on January 15, 2014 at 1:24 PM

I used to work on planes, F-14′s. You may have some aircraft that need to have maintenance done that are in the hanger, but the majority are used pretty continuously around the clock for flight operations. And just about all will have a few that are fueled and ready to go for the mornings flights. No plane takes 6 hours to launch. None.

If a squadron commander heard that one of our consulates was getting attacked and was asked by the senior guy on the ground for support, you’re telling me he would wait for an order from the president or SecDef before he launched? Or are you saying that their training or regular operations take precedent over helping out an Ambassador getting attacked?

Patriot Vet on January 15, 2014 at 1:36 PM

The scumhag lied with the caskets behind her.

That will be her 2016 backdrop.

The obamas will support de Blasio/Booker, or reverse. They hate the Clintons with passion and will kill her off, for good. They need frontboys and she’s not it. The Clintons hate the obamas even more.

Schadenfreude on January 15, 2014 at 1:50 PM

The report also accuses the WH of obstruction and Patrick Kennedy of shielding the WH from congressional oversight…

Just what exactly does it take to impeach this fascist occupying the WH?

workingclass artist on January 15, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Republicans with balls or a spine, both of which are short supply these days.

Ward Cleaver on January 15, 2014 at 1:58 PM

No plane takes 6 hours to launch. None.

Patriot Vet on January 15, 2014 at 1:36 PM

This might be a true statement about carrier based aircraft, but you’re dead wrong about other types of aircraft that you’re obviously not familiar with.

No, Patriot Vet isn’t wrong. Unless you’re talking about something hanging in the Smithsonian that is missing an engine.

But, this misses the point. The real questions here are twofold: (1) Why was there no preparation or coordination, by State or DOD and — more critically — (2) If the hypothetical squadron commander HAD made the call for authorization, what would have been the answer? If he/she had called the White House directly, who would have answered the phone, where was the CIC (which we still don’t know to this day) and what would he have told them?

This was a failure at the head of the snake and shouldn’t be sidetracked by arguments over whether it takes 6 hours to scramble a jet.

IndieDogg on January 15, 2014 at 2:28 PM

If nothing else, this Benghazi albatross must be kept hanging from Mrs. Clinton’s neck.

TimBuk3 on January 15, 2014 at 2:51 PM

The only difference this makes is none at all. If this were Egypt or North Korea or some other country, the people responsible for derelict of duty and incompetence would be stoned, flogged, removed from office, or even executed by firing squad or served up to malnourished dogs. Here? They say things like “what difference does it now make” and then they start campaigning and run for president.

scalleywag on January 15, 2014 at 4:00 PM

… Obviously, you’re only familiar with an aircraft that only seats two people. But even an F-14 squadron CO might hesitate to let a crew launch a mission to bomb a target that they haven’t been properly briefed on or don’t have certain levels of support.

blink on January 15, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Do you really believe there wasn’t any AWAC or J-STAR loitering? Do you have any experience in a layered operation?

M240H on January 15, 2014 at 4:02 PM

And F-14s are out of the inventory.

M240H on January 15, 2014 at 4:03 PM

The most important thing for America is that the careers of Obama, Hillary, Rice, et al., are safe. People wants rights without responsibility or accountability.

Once again, it is crystal clear that being a Democrat means never having to say you’re sorry, much less resign in disgrace.

Christien on January 15, 2014 at 4:26 PM

Washington ComPost now has the story up.

To the WaPo comments we go! 3248 and counting in less than 4 hours.

prior to 2009 no attacks were preventable
after 2009 all attacks preventable
prior to 2009 deficits and spending don’t matter
after 2009 deficits and spending matter..

Note to Obama: new crisis management technique – when under attack, make sure to finish the childrens book you are in the middle of reading. If people are still asking questions, make up a reason to invade an unrelated country. Then conservatives won’t accuse you of lying to the American people.

The US Congress / Senate has less than 10% credibility with Americans.

(This last Idiot also blames the youtube video)

Both Condi Rice and Bush were given intel reports in August 2001 that OBL was planning an imminent attack on US soil. 3000 died.

BO got no such warning.

(This idiot fails to tell us what those 2 could have done to prevent those attacks, in a manner that she would have approved of)

It is well known that Amb Stevens was an adult. He knew full well the dangers of that outpost in Benghazi and Libya as a whole. His death, while tragic is no more or less tragic than any killing anywhere in the world. Stevens, in effect, was partially responsible for his own death. He was a daredevil and paid the price for his actions. To blame Hillary or Obama is just insane.

If the Tea Party Cult had been around in 1939, the would have blamed the Poles for the German attack.

The Iraq war could have been prevented. But heck, only 4,500 American military were killed, 10′s of thousands severely injured, and we borrowed $1 trillion. So who cares about that?

But 4 people died under Obama’s watch? Why it’s off with Barry’s head, according to Republicans.

And finally, this gem of Low Intelligence!

The Repubs have Ailes-induced, Fox-Benghazi fever. It is a disease which causes rapid heart beat, dilated pupils, rapid onset of Tardive dyskinesia, inability to comprehend simple sentences, flushed, sweaty skin, with heavy, labored breathing and speech which is neither coherent or intelligent. There is no known cure, but the Right-wing thinks that a daily dose of an Issa-colon flush might alleviate some of the more severe symptoms, such as stinky flatulence and uncontrolled whining and babbling.

“IT BURNS!”

Del Dolemonte on January 15, 2014 at 4:58 PM

Republicans with balls or a spine, both of which are short supply these days.

Ward Cleaver on January 15, 2014 at 1:58 PM

They have been bought off. Appearing stupid and castrated is superb camo for corruption.

dogsoldier on January 15, 2014 at 5:52 PM

The “bipartisan” report seems to blame the faceless bureaucracy.

How many times was Hillary’s name mentioned specifically?

How many times was Obama’s name mentioned specifically?

aquaviva on January 15, 2014 at 7:07 PM

I would use this information in a campaign ad that asks the question, “who will be ready for that phone call at 3 a.m.? Oops! Question, asked, and now it’s answered.

demigogue on January 15, 2014 at 7:18 PM

If nothing else, this Benghazi albatross must be kept hanging from Mrs. Clinton’s neck.

TimBuk3 on January 15, 2014 at 2:51 PM

IT should have been hung around Obama’s next during the last debate, and yanked HARD. We wouldn’t have Zero in the Oval Office.

Who is John Galt on January 15, 2014 at 10:27 PM

Yea, you got a real smart gang there.

Ha.

All right…for you, I’m gone again.

You are welcome.

verbaluce on January 15, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Del Dolemonte on January 16, 2014 at 12:14 AM

If this had been done promptly Obama would have lost the election.

Thanks limp-spined Congress, gelded media, and wimpy Romney.

profitsbeard on January 16, 2014 at 4:20 AM

Guess Hillary isn’t exactly hot $#!+ when it comes to the 3am phone call either.

It’s nice that these things can be reported now that Obama is safely ensconced in his second term.

SAMinVA on January 16, 2014 at 7:43 AM

Just when we think a congressional bi-partisan at that committee is getting down to the last chair in this musical kabuki dance, someone will take the fall for Killary and dear leader. Panetta better watch his back or neck since slipping on a rug has replaced a visit to Ft. Marcy park in this oh so caring regime.

Kissmygrits on January 16, 2014 at 8:27 AM

Her failure as SoS should be the lead in to every political ad where ever she is thinking of doing anything!

TfromV on January 16, 2014 at 9:04 AM

This was a failure at the head of the snake and shouldn’t be sidetracked by arguments over whether it takes 6 hours to scramble a jet.

——–

I completely agree. That’s why I push back against those claiming that the military deliberately did nothing to help for nefarious reasons. I don’t think that Obama or anyone else wanted Stevens to die.

blink on January 15, 2014 at 3:12 PM

—–

Given the fact that this was identified within the first 15 min as a terrorist attack, the question isn’t how long it takes to get the plane the ground. The question is why that process was never started at all, particularly since Benghazi had been identified over and over again by *every group in it as dangerous.
Personally, I think Ed’s view that the admin didn’t want the failure of his “limited intervention” highlighted by moving security to the Ambassador. I think that would have gone almost entirely unnoticed by anyone not physically involved.

Which brings us back to why those who were aware adamantly refused to act. All they had to do was pull him.

And it is not, imo, the CIA’s job to babysit State officials because State has refused to do the job.

Recon5 on January 16, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Nobody said this wasn’t an attack.

verbaloon on January 14, 2014 at 12:25 PM

“The idea that we were somehow saying it wasn’t an attack?”

Jay Carney on January 15, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Hmmm…

Del Dolemonte on January 16, 2014 at 11:09 AM

In a 2007 Presidential Election debate Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton argued about who was more qualified to answer the proverbial 1am emergency phone call to handle a crisis of national importance. A Bi-Partisan Senate Report on Benghazi just settled the debate for them…

Neither Obama nor Hillary are qualified to answer a d@mn phone call at Pizz Hut for carry-out orders let alone a proverbial 1am national emergency phone call!

To this day Americans still have no idea where either President Obama or Secretary of State Clinton were on 9/11/12, a day 20 U.S. Embassies were attacked – 4 overrun & heavily damaged/burned – and on which 4 Americans – t include the 1st U.S. Ambassador in over 30 years – were killed! Their whereabouts have been kept more secret than the special recipes for KFC chicken or Coke!

easyt65 on January 16, 2014 at 12:04 PM

we must never again elect a president that is not a white man.

Mason on January 15, 2014 at 1:22 PM

It’s not so much that he was black…the issue is that no one was really ready for him. Especially blacks and the prog, loon liberal sheet media.

Since when did it become racist to criticize a sitting POTUS? When this clown was “elected” for sure. Blacks and the Msnbc idiots cannot stand any critique of this moron. Until they are…we’ll never be ready for another. And I for one am not ready to see this country headed for any more a race wars or racial divides that we thought were history…or any more crap from the pimps like Fat Al ever again.

Twana on January 16, 2014 at 10:53 PM

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