On Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released the most comprehensive public review into the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks so far. Democrats and Republicans on the committee agreed that the attacks were “likely preventable, due to lax security at the U.S. compound. The consensus, however, ends there. The review contains little in the way of new revelations, insights or explanations, and is instead largely a rehashing of the same partisan arguments pundits have been yelling about for the last year and a half.
The committee’s Republican members continue to be outraged at the Obama administration’s behavior before, during, and after the attacks. Using phrases like “disturbing lack of cooperation” and “ongoing failure to secure justice,” the GOP Senators on the committee place the majority of the blame on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for not ordering additional security to the compound, then focus the rest of their attention on the question of how the administration crafted its talking points after the attack.
“The failures of Benghazi can be summed up this way: the Americans serving in Libya were vulnerable; the State Department knew they were vulnerable; and no one in the Administration really did anything about it,” the Republican members write in their conclusion. “The Intelligence Community does not collect intelligence about threats to our security in dangerous place so it can be ignored by senior decision makers.”
One of those decision makers, in fact, was U.S. Ambassador Stevens, who was killed in the attacks. According to the report, Stevens himself had refused extra security on two separate occasions prior to the incident.
Democrats, on the other hand, admitted that security wasn’t good enough, but criticized Republicans for attempting to make the incident into a scandal. They were particularly irritated with the GOP’s focus on issues like the CIA’s talking points after the attacks, which Democrats claim were “flawed but mostly accurate.”
“[T]he Benghazi attacks have been the subject of misinformed speculation and accusations long after the basic facts of the attacks have been determined, thereby distracting attention from more important concerns: the tragic deaths of four brave Americans, the hunt for their attackers, efforts by the U.S. Government to avoid future attacks, and the future of the U.S.-Libya relationship,“ write the committee’s Democrats. “The Majority notes that the controversy over the CIA talking points consumed a regrettable and disproportionate amount of time and energy during the Committee's substantive review of the Benghazi attacks.”
In other words, when it comes to Benghazi, we’re at roughly the same place we were a year ago.