Democrats both on and off the House Select Committee on Benghazi skewered an 800-page report made public Tuesday by panel Republicans for presenting no new facts about the Sept. 11, 2012 terror attack.
Aside from questioning 81 witnesses that had never before been interviewed by congressional investigators, the select committee reviewed thousands of previously undisclosed documents and drew new conclusions about the administration's handling of the terror attack.
Below are nine things the Benghazi committee uncovered in its 25-month investigation.
Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account and server was unknown to previous congressional committees that looked into the circumstances surrounding Benghazi.
Dozens of emails discussing the attack and Libya were hidden on that server, including some that shed light on how Clinton and her aides initially sought to take "ownership" of the Libyan invasion.
When news of Clinton's private email use first broke in March 2015, the Benghazi committee seemingly entered a new, highly-politicized phase. Her server scandal took off just as she was preparing to enter the presidential race, injecting partisan vitriol into an investigation that had proceeded in relative quiet up to that point.
The examination of Clinton's private emails led the committee to a previously unknown force that had helped shape the secretary of state's policy in the run-up to Benghazi: Sidney Blumenthal.
Blumenthal behind the scenes
A divisive political operative who was barred from working in the Obama administration, Sidney Blumenthal provided unvetted intelligence to Clinton about Libya even as he attempted to cultivate business opportunities in the war-torn country.
Blumenthal appeared before the committee in June 2015, where his commercial dealings and potential conflicts of interest were questioned in a closed-door interview.
At issue was the fact that a partisan figure had a direct line to the secretary of state on matters as sensitive as the regime change in Libya. In fact, many of Blumenthal's missives to Clinton have since been marked classified by the State Department.
The extent of Blumenthal's influence was not uncovered in previous investigations of Benghazi.
Hillary's upcoming visit
The select committee revealed Clinton herself was set to visit Libya weeks after the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, a plan that was scrapped after the Benghazi raid.
That scheduled trip was one of many instances that highlighted the State Department's severe misreading of the security situation in Libya.
Clinton's planned visit had implications for Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was laying the groundwork for her travel when he was killed in the attack
Gregory Hicks, deputy chief of mission in Libya, told committee investigators the ambassador's stay in Benghazi was "absolutely" related to Clinton's visit.
Stevens had journeyed to Benghazi to work on a "deliverable" for Clinton's upcoming trip, the select committee revealed.
His work on that deliverable involved preparing a proposal to turn the temporary diplomatic compound in Benghazi into a permanent post.
"[W]e had begun the process of developing a political rationale for having a permanent post in Benghazi," Hicks testified.
The report said State Department discussions of Benghazi's deteriorating security situation earlier in 2012 framed outbreaks of violence as "anomalies" as officials forged ahead with a plan to establish a diplomatic presence in the coastal Libyan city.
Given his now-famous affection for the people of Libya, Stevens was an advocate of the plan.
The select committee discovered a group that "most U.S. Government personnel did not even know existed" helped the Americans trapped at the CIA annex escape on the morning of Sept. 12.
"This group, ironically, had close ties to the former Gadhafi regime — the very regime the United States had helped remove from power," the report said.
The report credited that group, which was affiliated with deposed dictator Muammar Gadhafi, with sparing "dozens of lives."
According to the select committee's findings, a CIA agent who had never previously been interviewed by other congressional investigators facilitated the evacuation with the Gadhafi militia's help. The CIA was "reluctant" to allow the committee to interview that agent.
The "Libyan Military Intelligence," as the group was known, arrived with a motorcade of 50 vehicles to transport the State Department and CIA personnel under siege at the annex to the airport, where they could be evacuated to Tripoli.
Some of those vehicles were fitted with machine guns and others had secure fixtures that would allow the fleet to escape with the Americans while taking fire.
The CIA agent in question had contacted the Libyan Military Intelligence for help after receiving a referral from a "helpless" contingent of local police officers who had been tapped to secure the annex but proved unable to do so.
The committee focused on the fact that, for all of the State Department's focus on cultivating relationships with the burgeoning Libyan government, the only people who tried to help the Americans were those cast aside by the agency.
"[S]ome of the very individuals the United States had helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution were the only Libyans that came to the assistance of the United States on the night of the Benghazi attacks," the report said.
Marines in Rota, Spain who were awaiting orders to head for Benghazi experienced hours of delay due to concern about what they were wearing, one witness told the select committee.
After C-130 planes reached the base and the Marines, who were part of a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team known as a FAST force, prepared to take off for Tripoli, a three-hour delay ensued due to deliberations about whether the company members should wear their military uniforms or civilian clothes, and whether they would be permitted to carry weapons.
"[W]e were told multiple times to change what we were wearing," the platoon commander testified. "There was also some talk of whether or not we could carry our personal weapons."
The commander testified that he advocated for his team to be allowed to carry weapons because they were headed into "a very violent thing going on the ground."
In all, the Marines were forced to change their clothes four times before they were deployed to Libya, according to testimony.
Gen. Carter Ham, the-commander of AFRICOM, told the committee he did not learn of the uniform changes "until after the fact" and even then could not pinpoint a reason for the three-hour delay in Rota.
That delay had come after the C-130s took six hours to arrive from Germany despite receiving orders to fly there at once.
"The fact that nearly twenty-four hours elapsed until those [FAST] forces actually arrived in Tripoli to reinforce the security there belies the expectations of the American people that the U.S. Military can and will move expeditiously," the committee report said.
Discussions over whether to force the FAST Marines to wear civilian clothes took place in Washington, where high-level officials expressed concerns about a military show of force in Libya.
"[T]hey wanted to minimize the signature that looked like a big military invasion, a big military arrival there," one witness testified.
Rather than increase the safety of the Marines en route to Benghazi, "the benefit of having the FAST platoon wear civilian clothing was to cater to unexpressed Libyan Government concerns about military appearances," the report said.
According to the report, Patrick Kennedy, the State Department's undersecretary for management, suggested the FAST platoon shed their uniforms during a key White House meeting the night of the attack.
White House meeting
Around 7:30 p.m. Washington time on the night of the raid, high-level officials gathered via secure video teleconference to discuss the events unfolding in Benghazi. Neither President Obama nor Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was present.
Clinton attended, as well as several of her top aides and Kennedy.
The meeting was not convened until four hours after the attack began. Sean Smith and Stevens had already died.
"Despite the Secretary [of Defense]'s expectation the assets he ordered to deploy would move as fast as possible in order to respond, the individuals who participated in the White House meeting, nevertheless, felt the need to 'work through' the assets the Secretary had already ordered to deploy," the report said.
Republicans on the committee noted that meeting participants became "surprisingly unable to recall details" about what was discussed that night when they were questioned by investigators.
Although an email sent by the Pentagon's chief of staff just before the conference indicated forces were "spinning up" and preparing to deploy, the report indicated "it was clear by the end of the White House meeting that no forces were going to Benghazi."
Administration officials placed tremendous importance on the way their actions would be perceived in Libya during the attack, the report found.
For example, military assets in Europe were not allowed to take off for Benghazi until the administration received clearance from the Libyan government to enter Libyan airspace.
But the process was lengthy and required a Libyan government official to receive paperwork for the request in person when no such official was on duty overnight as the attacks were unfolding.
Before the raid even began, diplomatic concerns prevented the State Department from greenlighting a higher security profile for the ambassador in Benghazi even though the conditions in the country warranted one.
'No connection' to Cairo
For weeks after the Benghazi attack, the administration attempted to link the violence in Libya to a relatively peaceful protest in Cairo hours earlier that had erupted over an inflammatory YouTube clip.
Internal correspondence obtained by the committee suggests that, rather than receiving conflicting intelligence on the matter, the administration knew within hours that the attack in Benghazi had little to do with the demonstrations in Cairo.
"For [press] guidance, if pressed whether we see a connection between these two. We have no information regarding a connection between these incidents." Nuland wrote of the events in Benghazi and Cairo within two hours of the administration learning of the Benghazi attack.
Kennedy told congressional staff in a subsequent briefing that the Benghazi attack had no relation to the Cairo protest because the demonstrators in Cairo had no weapons and simply spray-painted some illustrations near the Cairo embassy.