The Slatest

GOP-Controlled Intelligence Committee Debunks Benghazi Conspiracies

An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.

Photo by STR/AFP/GettyImages

The Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has issued a report roundly rejecting a number of conspiracy theories about the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The report, which was released on Friday after a two-year-long investigation, responded to a number of long-running theories about the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others.

The report found that there was no evidence of a “stand-down order” and that there was no advanced warning of the attack, two canards that have been reported by media outlets such as Fox News.

The report said that the process used to create a series of contested talking points by then–U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice was flawed, but the report did not say that Rice or the administration had intentionally misled the public with those talking points.

In appearances on Sunday morning shows after the attack, Rice described the attacks as having stemmed from a spontaneous protest over a comically bad anti-Islam film called Innocence of Muslims. There was no such protest, but the report attributed this confusion to contradictory intelligence reporting that came in after the attacks and not to some willful act of deceit by the administration.

Republican Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan and the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, gave this statement as they released the report:

For over two years, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence exhaustively investigated the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi Libya. We spent thousands of hours asking questions, poring over documents, reviewing intelligence assessments, reading cables and emails, and held a total of 20 Committee events and hearings. We conducted detailed interviews with senior intelligence officials from Benghazi and Tripoli as well as eight security personnel on the ground in Benghazi that night. Based on the testimony and the documents we reviewed, we concluded that all the CIA officers in Benghazi were heroes. Their actions saved lives.

The report echoed the findings of a similar bipartisan review panel by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released earlier this year along with five previous investigations.

The Benghazi Select Committee, created by House Speaker John Boehner, will continue to investigate Benghazi. A democratic member of that committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, urged it to shift its focus to security at State Department facilities.

“It’s my hope that this report will put to rest many of the questions that have been asked and answered yet again, and that the Benghazi Select Committee will accept these findings and instead focus its attention on the State Department’s progress in securing our facilities around the world and standing up our fast response capabilities,” Schiff said in a statement.