The House Select Committee on Benghazi has published its final report on the terrorist attack there in September 2012, and news media are determined to minimize its importance.
True, it contains no shocking new revelation beyond all the shocking things that had been revealed already.
The public already had an inkling of the clumsy, election-related White House and State Department coverup after the attack. They knew, if they kept up on the issue, about the casual neglect of adequate security measures by the State Department. They suspected a failure by the military to do all it could; no personnel or equipment was deployed in that direction. (It might not have saved lives, but that's something that could not have been known in advance, so failure to lift a finger was a terrible failure indeed).
Oh, and don't forget the earlier revelation from this very investigation, that Hillary Clinton, secretary of state at the time of the attack, had been illegally hiding her work communications from the government for three years, and for five years by the time it was discovered. That might still not be public information if not for the Select Committee's insistence on being given all relevant documents.
Aside from all that, most of the report reads as any informed person who followed the proceedings would expect. But it adds perspective from scores of witnesses who were never interviewed by any of the many other investigations into this terrible matter.
If you were hoping for some kind of clear justification for placing all blame on President Obama or Clinton for everything that happened, it isn't there. But those expecting such a result were wrong to expect it in the first place.
If Republican partisans exaggerated Obama's or Clinton's specific culpability for what happened in Benghazi, Democrats are at least as culpable of failing to take it seriously from the outset. The Benghazi terrorist attack took place in the home stretch of the last presidential election. Obama had claimed victory in the war against terrorism months earlier, after a special ops team killed Osama bin Laden. He had announced that "the tide of war is receding" a year earlier, when the U.S. formally withdrew from Iraq. There was a threat that voters' perceptions would be shaped by actual events rather than by Obama's re-election campaign narrative.
In retrospect, it is shocking how wrong that narrative was. As with the threat of Russian aggression, which he pooh-poohed, and as with the threat of what would eventually become the Islamic State in Iraq, he and his advisers were wrong then on Libya and continue to be wrong now.
Benghazi was an early symptom of the great disaster that Obama had brought to Libya. The embarrassing and disingenuous cover-up of the attack by his administration was an attempt to hide from the public, through Election Day, the reality that he had not made the world a safer place. Islamic terrorism was both thriving in its organized form and inspiring sympathizers worldwide, as subsequent events in France, Belgium, California and Orlando have amply demonstrated.
In that respect, and given the horrific attack that took place in Istanbul Tuesday, the Benghazi report could not have been released at a more appropriate time.
As for Libya itself, the Islamic State is one of several warring factions to control a slice of that former nation, now a failed state as a result of American intervention. And the New York Times has made clear from its reporting that Clinton was the one who steered Obama into his unilaterally declared and illegal war for regime change in North Africa.
It is a decision Obama now considers his "worst mistake," but he underestimates his error by believing the real mistake was in how the war was handled. And Clinton, during that time, was receiving bad and possibly self-interested information about the region from Sid Blumenthal, who (as we know thanks to a redaction error by Benghazi Committee Democrats) was also receiving $200,000 a year from the Media Matters/American Bridge complex of Hillary Clinton-supporting slush funds.
Given the violence, the death toll, and the mass displacements, the public probably only perceives Libya as a less disastrous adventure than the Iraq War because Americans are not doing the dying.
But the Benghazi attack, the moment when Americans did die, deserved every bit of investigating that it has received. The White House's defensive crouch on the subject betrays a lack of seriousness. It shows a disrespect for the dead and a failure to acknowledge just how great an error Obama's "worst mistake" really was.