The left and the media greeted Friday’s release of the House Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi with glee. “#Failghazi,” the Huffington Post proclaimed. And yet, as Shakespeare wrote, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” For though the report contradicted some speculative claims, the core of the scandal remains. And both President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a tough case to answer.
My colleague John Sexton has done a good job of summarizing the Intelligence report. The House committee, chaired by Republican Mike Rogers (R-MI), found that there was no intelligence failure leading up to the attack, and that the CIA and military personnel present did the best they could. The crucial new finding is that there was no “stand down” order, as some there have claimed, and that no further military resources were available.
The report leaves the State Department on the hook for failing to provide adequate security to the diplomatic post in Benghazi. It also notes that UN Ambassador Susan Rice was incorrect to blame a protest for the attack, though it concludes that at the time, there was at least some intelligence that reported (inaccurately) that there had been a protest. The report concludes that there were some mistakes in developing the talking points.
As Sexton points out, the report focuses on one set of talking points–i.e. those provided to the committee at the time–but only briefly mentions another set, developed by the White House, which told Rice to point specifically at an obscure YouTube video. The revelation of those talking points led Speaker John Boehner to establish a separate select committee on Benghazi in May. It still appears that the White House took great license with CIA talking points that had already been watered down to minimize the role of Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorists.
The Intelligence committee report focuses only on the intelligence community, not on the White House or the State Department. It therefore leaves the core of the Benghazi scandal intact, which is a case in three parts:
1. President Obama’s dereliction of duty. We know that after being briefed early in the evening at a prescheduled meeting, Obama failed to monitor the attacks in the Situation Room, or even to maintain contact with his national security team. He claims to have issued “three directives,” but there is no evidence of that, and some testimony contradicts that claim. He went to a fundraiser the next day, declined for days to refer to the events as a terror attack (despite later claims to the contrary), and blamed a YouTube video for the attack.
2. Hillary Clinton’s dereliction of duty–and intimidation. In addition to failing to provide additional security to Benghazi when requested, Clinton enthusiastically promoted the story about the YouTube video, long after it was known to be untrue. She also allegedly tried to stop witnesses from cooperating with Congress.
3. The media’s role in the cover-up. CBS News covered up the fact that Obama had lied to the public, and CNN’s Candy Crowley famously intervened in the second presidential debate to help that lie along. Instead, the media targeted Mitt Romney’s criticism of the administration’s reaction to an attack on the Cairo embassy.
The Intelligence report did not interview anyone in the White House, or in the State Department. Some of its findings, moreover, will continue to be disputed. Regardless, the core of the Benghazi scandal remains, and the enthusiasm with which the left has greeted the report suggests a continued attempt to distract from the facts.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak