The deadly Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, were not only “preventable,” but they were also deliberate acts of terrorism and not a spontaneous reaction to a YouTube video, the Senate Intelligence Committee said in bipartisan report released Wednesday.
The committee found that the State Department under Hillary Rodham Clinton failed entirely to respond to “significant strategic” warnings regarding the deteriorating security conditions in eastern Libya.
“Despite the clearly deteriorating security situation in Benghazi and requests for additional security resources, few significant improvements were made by the State Department to the security posture of the Temporary Mission Facility,” the report said.
Further, according to the committee, the intelligence community repeatedly warned Clinton’s State Department that U.S. personnel “were at risk” in that area of eastern Libya.
“(T)he State Department knew they were vulnerable; and no one in the Administration really did anything about it,” the report stated.
It said several “tripwires” were triggered prior to the September assault on the consulate, which claimed the lives of four men, including Ambassador Chris, Stevens, Glen Doherty, Tyrone S. Woods and Sean Smith, but none of them were addressed by State or Defense officials.
“The Intelligence Community does not collect intelligence about threats to our security in dangerous place so it can be ignored by senior decision makers,” it said. “Nor should a Regional Security Officer’s repeated warnings go unheeded. Yet, the intelligence and warnings from the field were met by this Administration with a deafening silence.”
During the attack, the report continued, military officials attempted to move assets into the area to assist in repelling the assault. But only unmanned drones were able to make it there in time. This runs contrary to earlier claims that military officials were ordered not to deploy nearby assets to assist the Benghazi defenders.
“The committee has reviewed the allegations that U.S. personnel, including the [Intelligence Community] or [Department of Defense], prevented the mounting of any military relief during the attacks, but the committee has not found any of these allegations to be substantiated,” the report reads.
The report also addressed the White House’s initial claim that a YouTube video prompted the attacks on the consulate.
“In intelligence reports after September 11, 2012, intelligence analysts inaccurately referred to the presence of a protest at the U.S. mission facility before the attack based on open source information and limited intelligence, but without sufficient intelligence or eyewitness statements to corroborate that assertion,” the report noted.
“The [Intelligence Community] took too long to correct these erroneous reports, which caused confusion and influenced the public statements of policymakers,” it added.
The report also included details of an alleged ambush attempt where it’s believed attackers tried to lure CIA operatives into a hospital where the body of Chris Stevens was being held. The CIA concluded it was a setup and declined to retrieve Stevens’ body at that time.
“The committee worked on a bipartisan basis to investigate the various allegations that have come out since the terrorist attacks in Benghazi in September 2012 and to get to the truth about what happened leading up to, during and after the attacks,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement.
[sharequote align=”center”]”The committee worked on a bipartisan basis to investigate the various allegations…”[/sharequote]
She said she hopes the report puts to rest numerous “conspiracy theories” that have surrounded the tragedy in Benghazi.
The top Republican on the committee, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), said the report should provide many “needed and deserved answers.”
“In spite of the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi and ample strategic warnings, the United States Government simply did not do enough to prevent these attacks and ensure the safety of those serving in Benghazi,” he said.
The report was drafted after the committee conducted several interviews and reviewed thousands of pages of intelligence, most of it behind closed doors, Politico reported.
The Senate report concludes with a vow to prevent and prepare for any future Benghazi-style attacks on U.S. personnel.
“The four Americans who perished in Benghazi deserved better from their country. Their families, who have been waiting over a year for promised justice and answers, are entitled to know the truth about what happened and why,” it said.
“The families of those murdered in Benghazi deserve the truth, and all of our intelligence, military, and diplomatic professionals who serve overseas in dangerous places are entitled to have confidence that the errors of Benghazi will not be repeated,” it added.
Here’s the full report:
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This post has been updated.