Fox News on June 29, 2016, reported on the 800-page Benghazi report blaming a “rusty bureaucratic process” for the Obama administration’s slow-moving response the night of the attack. The report said that despite orders from President Obama and then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to deploy assets in response to the attack on the compound to aid Ambassador Chris Stevens, his staff and security personnel, the first military force did not do so until more than 13 hours after the attack started. Excerpts below:
Republican committee members — let by Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. — insisted their work was not political.
“Read the report,” Gowdy repeatedly said.
“You can read this report in less time than our fellow citizens were taking fire and fighting for their lives on the rooftops and in the streets of Benghazi,” he also said in a written statement.
The report faulted the Obama administration for a range of missteps before, during and after the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya that led to the deaths of Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Ty Woods and Glen Doherty.
The report said one anti-terrorism security team known as the FAST unit sat waiting for three hours in Rota, Spain, as Marines changed “in and out of their uniforms four times,” and even debated whether they should carry personal weapons, according to one witness. All together, the report said, “it would take nearly 18 hours” for that team to move.
The report described a web of internal debates and hold-ups, including apparent State Department guidance that “Libya must agree to any deployment,” though Panetta would later say Libya approval was not necessary.
The report also said Clinton told the Egyptian prime minster they knew the attack had nothing to do with the film and was a planned attack – despite statements being made by her and others referencing the video.
Lawmakers contrasted the “heroism” of those on the ground with the discussions in Washington. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., described the D.C. attitude as “near fecklessness.” He said, “They were more concerned about how they’re going to offend the Libyan government than how this rescue is going to take place.”
The report also showed:
During a White House meeting convened roughly three hours into the attack, “much of the conversation focused on the video.”
The forces that came to evacuate State Department and CIA officers that night were not fellow Americans, but a secret unit of former military officers from the Qaddafi regime, which the Obama administration had helped overthrow.
“Security deficiencies plagued the Benghazi Mission compound in the lead-up to September 2012.”
Panetta told the committee “an intelligence failure” occurred, while former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell also acknowledged an intelligence failure.