WASHINGTON — The U.S diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, was “woefully vulnerable” prior to the deadly 2012 attack by militants, according to a report by House Republicans on the incident that blames the Obama administration for failing to beef up security.
The report, released Tuesday by Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee, contains few new revelations about the Benghazi attack, which has sparked a long-running partisan battle.
It debunks one of the persistent claims about the response to the incident: that the U.S. military was ordered to “stand down” instead of going to the aid of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed along with another American when attackers stormed the facility and set it on fire. Two other Americans were slain the following morning by mortar fire on a nearby CIA post.
“There was no ‘stand down’ order issued to U.S. military personnel in Tripoli,” the report says, blaming the claim on “confusion” about the facts arising from what it termed inadequate previous reviews.
It quotes Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as saying that once troops were ordered to attempt to move to Libya, “nothing stopped us, nothing slowed us.”
No troops arrived in Benghazi in time to assist the State Department security personnel and CIA operatives fighting the attackers, though an unarmed U.S. drone was overhead.
The report does not mention former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was in office at the time of the incident and recently acknowledged the incident was her “biggest regret” while in office.
The report blames unnamed White House officials, who it says “failed to comprehend or ignored the dramatically deteriorating security situation in Libya.”
It acknowledges there was no specific intelligence that the attack was coming but criticizes the administration and the State Department for not seeking to beef up the U.S. military presence amid concern about worsening security in Libya.
Like previous investigations, the Republican report largely absolves the military for failing to make it to Benghazi before the attack was over. U.S troops and aircraft in Europe and in the U.S. were not positioned to respond quickly enough, it says.