House GOP releases report on Benghazi investigation, faulting Clinton

John Kerry might be ready to move on to “a lot more important things than Benghazi,” but last week House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa cautioned the CIA to lawyer up after reports that whistleblowers are starting to come forward on the events of the fateful September evening, and on Tuesday Speaker Boehner unveiled the results of months of Congressional investigation on the terrorist attack in Libya — a new interim House report that doesn’t paint an altogether flattering picture of the Obama administration, and a certain former Secretary of State in particular:

The 46-page report by the five committees of jurisdiction concludes that reductions in security levels prior to the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were approved at the highest levels of the State Department, including by Clinton herself.

The report also concludes that talking points from the intelligence community were altered to protect the State Department from criticism of inadequate security levels.

And from the report’s executive summary on the ongoing Congressional investigation’s several determinations to date, which “illustrate the need for continued examination and oversight by the five House Committees”:

-Reductions of security levels prior to the attacks in Benghazi were approved at the highest levels of the State Department, up to and including Secretary Clinton. This fact contradicts her testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on January 23, 2013.

-In the days following the attacks, White House and senior State Department officials altered accurate talking points drafted by the Intelligence Community in order to protect the State Department.

-Contrary to Administration rhetoric, the talking points were not edited to protect classified information. Concern for classified information is never mentioned in email traffic among senior Administration officials.

We can all guess what kind of backlash is going to come from this report, yeah? That Hillary Clinton already accepted the blame for Benghazi (à la, the-buck-stops-with-me-but-notreally), and that this is just Republicans’ pathetic attempt to keep dragging out and politicizing an issue in order to irk the Obama administration and put a dent in Hillary’s reputation in front of 2016, which is just silly anyways, ’cause let’s face it — she’s Hillary, and you Can’t Touch This. Who really cares that finally getting to the bottom of the Benghazi attacks would be the accountable and righteous thing to do, and “what difference does it make,” anyways? You Republicans should probably stop embarrassing yourselves and drop the whole thing, The End.

The problem there, however, is that there’s a chance Hillary’s political cred isn’t the unassailable fortress of awesome that some might presume, especially if the “highest levels of the state department,” cough cough, were willfully negligent about providing adequate security to the consulate:

After the U.S.-backed Libyan revolution ended the Gadhafi regime, the U.S. government did not deploy sufficient U.S. security elements to protect U.S. interests and personnel that remained on the ground. Senior State Department officials knew that the threat environment in Benghazi was high and that the Benghazi compound was vulnerable and unable to withstand an attack, yet the department continued to systematically withdraw security personnel. Repeated requests for additional security were denied at the highest levels of the State Department. For example, an April 2012 State Department cable bearing Secretary Hillary Clinton’s signature acknowledged then-Ambassador Cretz’s formal request for additional security assets but ordered the withdrawal of security elements to proceed as planned.

And the report goes on to fault President Obama’s administration for perpetuating “a deliberately misleading and incomplete narrative that the violence grew out of a demonstration caused by a YouTube video. The Administration consciously decided not to discuss extremist involvement or previous attacks against Western interests in Benghazi.” Shots, fired. No response from White House or State yet.

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