The Obama administration was more concerned with downplaying the threat of terrorism in order to get President Obama re-elected than protecting the lives of Americans overseas.
A new report from House Republicans, which took two years to complete and included interviews with more than 100 witnesses — including 81 who were never spoken to before by other investigations — revealed little was done to rescue Americans in the Benghazi, Libya, U.S. Embassy despite the violence.
Worse still, the report revealed that in the wake of the attack, which killed four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, the Obama administration was more concerned with pretending it was about a video and not an act of terrorism. The report also claimed that Obama and the State Department — at the time under Secretary Hillary Clinton — did nothing to help.
"What we did find was a tragic failure of leadership — in the run up to the attack and the night of — and an administration that, so blinded by politics and its desire to win an election, disregarded a basic duty of government: Tell the people the truth," the report said. "And for those reasons Benghazi is, and always will be, an American tragedy."
The Obama administration first tried to blame the attacks on a YouTube video, even though they knew that it was not the catalyst. During her 11-hour testimony to the House Benghazi committee, it was revealed that Clinton emailed her daughter Chelsea shortly after the attacks to say they were killed "by an al Qaeda-like group."
But after that, in an official State Department statement, Clinton referenced a little-known YouTube video as the source of the aggression.
Witnesses on the ground didn't mention anything about a spontaneous protest sparked by anger over the video, according to the report.
"None of the information coming directly from the agents on the ground in Benghazi during the attacks mentioned anything about a video or a protest. The firsthand accounts made their way to the office of the secretary through multiple channels quickly," the report said.
Despite this, then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice went on all the Sunday morning talk shows to claim the attack was due to an anti-Islam YouTube video and not the result of ongoing terrorism in the region. It turns out Rice wasn't briefed on the attacks by anyone in the intelligence committee, but instead by Obama's senior advisor David Plouffe and Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.
In an email sent after the attacks, under a heading titled "Goals," Rhodes wrote: "To underscore that the protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy[.]"
It's clear the White House didn't want to admit terrorism was still a major concern, as Obama had staked his re-election bid on assuring the American people that he had solved the problem by withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Prior to the attacks on September 11, 2012, multiple warnings were issued and ignored about the dangers of terrorism in Libya. Ambassador Stevens and a small team were sent to Benghazi to prepare for a lasting U.S. presence, but in the previous months it was made clear this was a dangerous decision.
The report found an "increase in extremist activity" was reported to U.S. officials in June 2012, and other nations had withdrawn their own officials due to safety concerns. Stevens was in the area to prepare for Clinton to come and announce a permanent diplomatic post in the region — a spin attempt to make the region seem safer after the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Democrats are already in spin mode, attempting to play off the latest report as nothing new. A lot of the information in the report had been discovered earlier, but the media had either buried or downplayed the information. Now it's all laid out in a single report.
The other spin that has been laid out for years is that embassies have been attacked, resulting in dozens of deaths, prior to Benghazi in an attempt to claim that the focus on this one attack is the result of politics. The problem with that claim, however, is that the previous attacks didn't result in many American deaths and no ambassador had been killed since the 1970s.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University's security studies program, told Politifact that Benghazi was "absolutely" different from previous attacks.
Along with the fact that an ambassador was killed, Gartenstein-Ross said questions remained about "whether what happened was put to the American people in an honest manner, not just with respect to the administration, but also with respect to the intelligence community."
As the latest report on the attack makes clear, the American people were not given the facts honestly.
Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.