That about does it for Benghazi, right?
On Friday, after two years of investigation and testimony, the U.S. House Select Committee on Intelligence found that the military and Central Intelligence Agency responded appropriately to the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The Republican-led committee found no evidence that the military was ordered to “stand down” during the attacks. The committee’s report also said there was no evidence the CIA was involved in arms shipments or other unauthorized activities. The report did say that the White House’s initial explanation for the attacks was inaccurate, but blamed that on conflicting intelligence, not an intent to lie. The report also said that no officials were subsequently discouraged to testify.
The deaths, of course, were a true tragedy, and the questions that surrounded them needed to be pursued, although perhaps not with the glee that Republicans exhibited the past two years.
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Now those questions have been answered. No stand down order. No significant failures. No cover up.
So we can move along now, yes? Of course not. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham isn’t ready yet.
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, the Republican from South Carolina said the House Select Committee’s report was “full of crap.” He also said that the committee itself “did a lousy job” and that some of its conclusions were “a bunch of garbage.”
Does Graham have unreleased evidence that counters the mound of evidence and testimony the committee gathered? No. He’s just unhappy that the report wasn’t harder on then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for the initial reasons she offered for the attacks. He’s also unhappy that the report didn’t say that then-CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell misled Congress about his editing of Rice’s initial talking points.
The panel did address that, however. In the report’s appendix, the Republicans on the panel said that Morell offered “inconsistent and incomplete” testimony to Congress, and that he “inserted himself into a policy making and public affairs role.” It also suggested that the White House’s policy preferences might have been a factor in his decisions.
The report said, however, that Morell and Rice were working with contradictory intelligence assessments. And even if Morell made a political calculation in editing Rice’s talking points, the committee concluded that didn’t add up to an overall conspiracy or cover-up of Obama administration mistakes.
In part, that’s because the evidence shows there weren’t significant mistakes to cover up. “Appropriate U.S. personnel made reasonable tactical decisions that night,” the report says. The committee also found no intelligence failure prior to the attacks.
Instead of accepting these conclusions, Graham suggested that the committee itself might have problems. He told CNN that the panel “is doing a lousy job policing its own,” and when asked why a Republican-led committee would “buy a bunch of garbage,” he simply replied: “Good question.”
That’s what a good conspiracy theorist never runs out of – questions that keep the conspiracy alive. Now, Graham says he wants the House investigation expanded to the Senate, so that the questions can continue.
But the big questions have been answered. No stand down. No significant failures. No cover up. It’s over, Sen. Graham. Let it go.