Congressional leaders react to release of Benghazi report

U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, released a report on Tuesday that outlines the lead up, response to and fall out from the 2012 terrorist attack.

The report concluded that no military assets were deployed to Benghazi despite clear orders from President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and that a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a runway in Spain for three hours in the midst of the attack that left four Americans dead.

“Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were heroes who gave their lives in service to our country” Gowdy said. “Their bravery and the courageous actions of so many others on the ground that night should be honored. When the Select Committee was formed, I promised to conduct this investigation in a manner worthy of the American people’s respect, and worthy of the memory of those who died. That is exactly what my colleagues and I have done.”

U.S. officials discussed getting permission from the Libyan government before making a deployment during a two-hour meeting held after U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens had gone missing, according to the report.

“Our committee’s insistence on additional information about the military’s response to the Benghazi attacks was met with strong opposition from the Defense Department, and now we know why,” U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), a member of the committee, said. “Instead of attempting to hide deficiencies in our posture and performance, it’s my hope our report will help ensure we fix what went wrong so that a tragedy like this never happens again.” 

U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), a member of the committee, said that in the days and weeks after the attack, the White House worked to pin blame for misleading and incorrect information released in the aftermath of the attacks on the intelligence community.

“But in reality, political operatives like Ben Rhodes and David Plouffe were spinning the false narrative and prepping Susan Rice for her interviews,” Roskam said.

U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), also a member of the Select Committee on Benghazi, cited the “lead from behind” foreign policy of the Obama administration for creating a climate in Libya that allowed terrorists to overrun the U.S. Embassy.

“President Obama has said his worst mistake was ‘failing to plan for the day after…intervening in Libya,’” Brooks said. “As a result of this ‘lead from behind’ foreign policy, the Libyan people were forced to make the dismal trade of the tyranny of Qadhafi for the terror of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and others. Although the State Department considered Libya a grave risk to American diplomats in 2011 and 2012, our people remained in a largely unprotected, unofficial facility that one diplomatic security agent the committee interviewed characterized as ‘a suicide mission.’”

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) said that four innocent Americans were killed in the attack, and that the administration has refused to accept responsibility for the tragedy.

“That’s not right,” Reed said. “Those who serve our country must know that we will always stand with them and will not abandon them in their time of need. That’s why I’m calling for the administration, and all those involved, to be held accountable. For the sake of these four Americans’ families, this should never be allowed to happen again and we applaud the work of the committee to get to the truth on this matter.”

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said that the report made clear that the White House and Hillary Clinton’s State Department “made crucial mistakes” before the attacks and hesitated when they should have acted.

“We all should be grateful to Chairman Gowdy and members of the committee for their fortitude, perseverance and commitment to finding the truth, despite relentless and continuing obstruction by congressional Democrats and the withholding of information by the Obama administration,” Issa said. “The report released today provides necessary answers and a true measure of accountability that the American people deserve. Congressional oversight is a difficult job, but necessary to restore public trust in their government. This report does just that.”

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