Ending one of the longest, costliest and most bitterly partisan congressional investigations in history, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report on Tuesday, finding no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton in the 2012 attacks in Libya that left four Americans dead.
The 800-page report, however, included some new details about the night of the attacks, and the context in which they occurred. And it delivered a broad rebuke of government agencies like the Defense Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department — and the officials who led them — for failing to grasp the acute security risks in Benghazi, and especially for maintaining outposts there that they could not protect.
The committee, led by Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, also harshly criticized an internal State Department investigation that it said had allowed officials like Mrs. Clinton, then the secretary of state, to effectively choose who would investigate their actions. In addition, it reiterated Republicans’ complaints that the Obama administration had sought to thwart the investigation by withholding witnesses and evidence.
The report, which includes perhaps the most exhaustive chronology to date of the attacks on an Americacn diplomatic compound and their aftermath, did not dispute that United States military forces stationed in Europe could not have reached Benghazi in time to rescue the personnel who died — a central finding of previous inquiries.
Still, it issued stinging criticism of the overall delay in response and the lack of preparedness on the part of the government.
“The assets ultimately deployed by the Defense Department in response to the Benghazi attacks were not positioned to arrive before the final lethal attack,” the committee wrote. “The fact that this is true does not mitigate the question of why the world’s most powerful military was not positioned to respond.”