Politics & Government

House intel committee report debunks Benghazi conspiracy theories

The Obama administration didn’t issue ‘stand down’ orders to security forces at the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya or knowingly give erroneous details about the incident to the public, a quietly-released report by the House Intelligence Committee concluded Friday.

The two-year investigation by the bipartisan panel shoots down a series of conspiracy theories and cover-up claims. It’s the fourth congressional committee to reach similar conclusions.

‘The report has endeavored to make the facts and conclusions within this report widely and publicly available so that the American public can separate the actual facts from the swirl of rumors and unsupported allegations,’ the report stated in its findings.

It debunks talk that the administration ordered CIA and security forces at the compound to ‘stand down’ during that attacks that led to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

The findings could prove a boon to potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was President Barack Obama’s secretary of state at the time of the attack.

And it’s a potential blow to congressional Republicans, conservatives, and tea party supporters who’ve accused the Obama administration of covering up details of the Benghazi attack.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives earlier this year created a Benghazi Select Committee chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to further examine what occurred on Sept. 11, 2012.

‘Appropriate U.S. personnel made reasonable tactical decisions that night, and the committee found no evidence that there was either a stand down order or a denial of available air support,’ the report said. ‘The committee, however, received evidence that the State Department security, personnel, resources and equipment were unable to counter the terrorist threat that day and required CIA assistance.’

The intelligence committee report paints of picture of heroism at the scene the night of the attack and confusion in intelligence assessments in the early aftermath of the deadly incident.

In addition, it rejects claims of witness intimidation by superiors about the attack and affirms that there was no intelligence failure before the attack.

It concludes that a ‘mixed group’ of individuals, including some linked to al Qaida, were involved in the attack.

The report also backs White House’s assertion that it didn’t deliberately disclose misleading information about the attack when then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice - now Obama’s national security advisor - spoke about the incident on television with talking points that were erroneous.

‘The committee concludes that after the attacks, the early intelligence assessments and the administrations initial public narrative on the causes and motivations for the attacks were not fully accurate,’ the report found. ‘There was a stream of contradictory and conflicting intelligence that came in after the attacks. The committee found intelligence to support CIA’s initial assessment that the attacks had evolved out of a protest in Benghazi; but it also found contrary intelligence, which ultimately proved to be the correct intelligence. There was no protest.’

However, the CIA didn’t resolve the conflicting intelligence until two days after Rice appeared on television and claimed that the attack was spawned by a protest over a video that Muslims considered offensive.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the house intelligence committee chair, and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the committee’s ranking Democrat, said their panel’s probe was comprehensive.

‘We spent thousands of hours asking questions, pouring over documents, reviewing intelligence assessments, reading cables and email, and held a total of 20 committee events and hearings,’ the lawmakers said in a joint statement. ‘Based on the testimony and the documents we reviewed, we concluded that all the CIA officers in Benghazi were heroes. Their actions saved lives.’