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Republicans investigating Benghazi blame White House, State Department for failures

  • Article by: Karen DeYoung
  • Washington Post
  • February 10, 2014 - 11:17 PM

– Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee largely exonerated the U.S. military from responsibility for failures associated with the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, instead blaming the White House and the State Department for ignoring heightened threats in the area.

The committee majority’s conclusions, in a report to be released Tuesday, do not differ significantly from those reached by other congressional panels that have touched on the military’s role in the Ben­ghazi incident.

While the GOP lawmakers said that commanders could have pushed harder to position forces to respond to threats in North Africa in general and Libya in particular, they concluded that no U.S. military assets could have arrived in Benghazi in time to affect the outcome of the attack, according to committee staff members who briefed reporters on the report.

“Armed drones and AC-130” gunships “weren’t within reasonable flying distance,” said one staffer, who like the other staff members spoke on the condition of anonymity because the report was not yet released. Italy-based F-16 aircraft were not on alert status, and “it is not at all certain that they would have been particularly helpful in this instance.”

The report is one of several released in recent months by the Republican-led House, which has continued to criticize the Obama administration for what some lawmakers have called a coverup in the Benghazi attack, in which four Americans were killed.

Democrats have accused the Republicans of overkill, and two Democrats on the Armed Services Committee said Monday that “this Republican-prepared report clearly states that the Department of Defense responded appropriately, quickly, to the best of its ability” to the attack.

“For more than a year, we have watched Republicans desperately and obsessively search for a scandal, which has not appeared. It is time to move forward,” Rep. Adam Smith, Wash., the committee’s senior Democrat, and Rep. Niki Tsongas, Mass., said in a statement.

Last month, the Democratic-led Senate Intelligence Committee faulted the State Department and the intelligence community for failing to increase security at the poorly protected temporary Benghazi compound.

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