The House Select Committee on Benghazi released on Tuesday its long-awaited final report on the 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate there, in which four Americans died, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
The investigation, which went on for more than two years, was led by Rep. Trey Gowdy, a Republican, and led to sharp criticism from Democrats that it was overly partisan and angled against then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The authors of the 800-page report said it offers new revelations, including details of the military's alleged slow response in deploying assets to Benghazi at the time of the attack.
"Despite President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s clear orders to deploy military assets, nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began," the report said. "None of the relevant military forces met their required deployment timelines."
Gowdy called the four Americans who died "heroes who gave their lives in service to our country" and praised the "bravery and the courageous actions" of others on the ground during the attack.
“When the Select Committee was formed, I promised to conduct this investigation in a manner worthy of the American people’s respect, and worthy of the memory of those who died," Gowdy said. "That is exactly what my colleagues and I have done."
The report stated that security on the ground "worsened significantly" around a month before the attacks. Stevens, who had initially planned to travel to Benghazi in early August, had canceled the trip "primarily for Ramadan/security reasons."
Another new revelation according to the report was that the Libyan forces that evacuated Americans from the CIA annex to the Benghazi airport were former Qaddafi loyalists and not militias that the CIA or State Department had developed a relationship with.
The report did not find any new evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton, the New York Times reported. However, it stated that Clinton and her top aide, Patrick Kennedy, should have realized the risks facing the U.S. diplomatic mission posed by extremist groups, CNN reported.
"It is not clear what additional intelligence would have satisfied either Kennedy or the Secretary in understanding the Benghazi mission compound was at risk — short of an attack," the report said.
"After more than two years and more than $7 million in taxpayer funds, the Committee report has not found anything to contradict the conclusions of the multiple, earlier investigations," Clinton's spokesman, Brian Fallon, said in a statement. "This report just confirms what Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and even one of Trey Gowdy's own former staffers admitted months ago: this Committee's chief goal is to politicize the deaths of four brave Americans in order to try to attack the Obama administration and hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign."
In a statement responding to the findings, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan criticized the Obama administration, including Clinton.
“Obama Administration officials, including the Secretary of State, learned almost in real time that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist attack," Jordan wrote. "Rather than tell the American people the truth, the administration told one story privately and a different story publicly."
In a press conference after the report's release, committee members slammed Clinton, with Rep. Mike Pompeo calling her leadership "morally reprehensible."
Rep. Martha Roby said that Washington, D.C., was "more concerned about diplomatic sensitivities with Libyans" than about the safety of Americans they sent to Benghazi.
Responding to the report, the State Department issued a statement saying, "The essential facts surrounding the 2012 attacks in Benghazi have been known for some time."
"In keeping with our commitment to transparency on Benghazi, the Department cooperated extensively with the Select Committee," deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said. "We have provided over 50 current and former employees for interviews and over 100,000 pages of documents. Our priority continues to be carrying out our national security mission while mitigating the risks to our employees."
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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