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If this was a high school paper, I would give it an F': House Benghazi report seen as failure by officers on ground; Rep. Rogers roundly criticized by colleagues

"There are so many mistakes it’s hard to know where to begin. How can an official government report get so many things wrong?"

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

Recently we provided an analysis of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence's Final Benghazi report, finding that the media had been ignoring several of its major revelations, while failing to critically examine its near-total exoneration of the intelligence community, and the intent of its authors, including lame duck House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI).

Stephen F. Hayes has done just this work in an extensive article appearing in the December 15, 2014 edition of The Weekly Standard, finding that not only was Rep. Rogers disinterested in pursuing a substantive investigation of the Benghazi attack, but that the report ultimately published was full of inaccuracies, errors and omissions, proving to several officials why a select committee was imperative.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-MI, speaks during a press conference on October 8, 2012 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (AFP/Getty File Photo) House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-MI, speaks during a press conference on October 8, 2012 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (AFP/Getty File Photo)

Regarding the first point, Hayes writes:

At a meeting of intelligence committee Republicans in early 2013, just four months after the attacks, Rogers laid out his priorities for the new Congress. Not only was Benghazi not on that list, according to three sources in the meeting, he declared to the members that the issue was in the past and that they wouldn’t be devoting significant time and resources to investigating it. Whatever failures there had been in Benghazi, he explained, they had little to do with the intelligence community, and his intelligence committee would therefore have little to do with investigating them.

Hayes indicates that as evidence began to mount in the ensuing months regarding the Benghazi talking points, Rogers continued to largely ignore the issue, prompting frustrated intelligence committee members -- seven in all -- to take their concerns about the investigation, or lack thereof, directly to House Speaker John Boehner or his top aides.

Boehner would ultimately conduct a meeting with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and three CIA officers who had fought on the ground in Benghazi on the night of November 13, 2013, without the man who likely should have been calling them to testify, Rep. Mike Rogers, apparently due to the concerns expressed to him by other House Republicans.

The treatment of Kris Paronto, Mark Geist and John Teigen -- whose courageous efforts are documented in "13 Hours" -- by Congress, as detailed in the article by Hayes, would indicate that the concerns of fellow House Intelligence Committee members were justified.

Of the report itself, Hayes writes that:

For many of those who had been following the story closely, the report was bizarre and troubling. Key events were left out. Important figures were never mentioned. Well-known controversies were elided. Congressional testimony on controversial issues was mischaracterized. The authoritative tone of the conclusions was undermined by the notable gaps in evidence presented to support them.

[sharequote align="center"]"If this was a high school paper, I would give it an F"[/sharequote]

"If this was a high school paper, I would give it an F," says John Tiegen, a former CIA officer who fought on the ground that night in Benghazi and lived through many of the events the report purports to describe. "There are so many mistakes it’s hard to know where to begin. How can an official government report get so many things wrong?"

Such a view is corroborated by Hayes' conversations with Paronto and Geist, as well as their legal representative, Mark Zaid, cutting at the heart of many assertions within, and thus the veracity of the Benghazi report.

Criticism of the report is not limited to those on the ground during the attack however.

Hayes quotes several of Rogers' Republican colleagues, who serve alongside him on the House Intelligence Committee on the Benghazi report, as follows:

  • Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL): "I don’t think this is the official government report. It's Mike Rogers’s report...The members of his own committee don't even agree with it"
  • Rep. Peter King (R-NY): "[T]he best interpretation is that it was an attempt to be bipartisan. And that's the best interpretation."
  • Rep. Mac Thornbery (R-TX): "I probably would have written it differently..And it’s important to remember that this is a narrow look at just one part of the Benghazi story. All of the talk that this report answers this, that, and the other? It doesn't. That’s the reason that Boehner appointed the select committee."

Hayes himself writes:

The report begins by asserting that it is a "comprehensive" look at Benghazi resulting from an intensive investigation of nearly two years. Neither claim is true. Instead, the report is a reflection of a dysfunctional committee and the reluctant, ad hoc approach to Benghazi of its leadership and top staff.

The author goes on to examine and challenge many of he most significant findings of the report, including but not limited to the assertion that a stand-down order was never given [he cites individuals on the ground who say it was], to the idea that there were no major intelligence failures [he provides ample evidence that Benghazi was and continues to be a major failure to this day].

Summarizing his major points, Hayes writes:

The absence of bin Hamid [a key player on the ground in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012], the exclusion of the Khattala indictment [key evidence from the only participant in the Benghazi attacks held by the U.S.], the whitewashing of intelligence failures, the spinning of NDAs, the reliance on discredited witnesses, and the mistreatment of credible ones—these are just some of the problems with the House Intelligence Committee’s report on Benghazi.

He concludes:

Defenders of the Obama administration have suggested that the intelligence committee’s report makes the work of the select committee unnecessary, but a senior Republican leadership aide, reached on the day the intelligence committee’s report was released, made the opposite argument.

He said: "Rogers proved today why we needed a special committee."

Read the whole thing here.

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