Benghazi Investigation Reveals Lapses in Preparedness, Communication
A "woefully unprepared" military exacerbated by a "striking" failure by top security officials in Washington to communicate with commanders in-theater left U.S. forces incapable of responding to the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks, a new House Armed Services Committee report finds.
The long-anticipated interim report on the Benghazi attacks from the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations was released on Tuesday, answering questions about the military's preparedness and response to the terrorist attacks on an American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans.
U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL), who chaired the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee since the beginning of the inquiry, said the interim report shows Washington's failure to coordinate and communicate left the military in "an impossible position."
"Washington’s lack of preparedness and misunderstanding of the threat level left our commanders in the region in an impossible position," Rep. Roby said. "And, because of that, I’m convinced that no heroic effort on the part of our troops could have changed the horrific outcome of the Benghazi attack.
"These lapses are unacceptable. While multiple government agencies and military branches had responsibilities relating to the Benghazi attacks, there is only one Commander-in-Chief. It is his responsibility to ensure cooperation and coordination among military, intelligence and diplomatic officials, particularly in such a dangerous part of the world on a uniquely dangerous day."
The full Oversight and Investigations report can be downloaded here.
With its jurisdiction focused squarely on the U.S. Armed Forces, the subcommittee sought answers to how the military was positioned leading up to the attack, how it responded once the attack started, and what changes have been instituted since to prevent such an attack from being successful in the future. Lawmakers heard testimony from a wide-range of military officials, from troops on the ground in Libya, commanders in the North Africa region, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs – the nation's highest ranking military officer.
One key finding in the interim report, Rep. Roby said, was the "striking" lack of effort by national security officials in Washington to communicate with commanders in the North Africa region leading up to the anniversary of 9/11.
"Testimony revealed that, when the White House sent out a press release on September 10, 2012 assuring Americans we were prepared for the anniversary of 9/11, it did so without having consulted the commanders in the North Africa region. This is particularly concerning after developments in Egypt and Libya made North Africa among the most dangerous regions on the globe."
Rep. Roby noted the House Armed Services Oversight and Investigations effort complements a multi-jurisdictional investigation spanning multiple committees.
"There are obviously other questions about Benghazi that are beyond the scope of the Armed Services Committee, particularly those relating to the State Department and the White House. Evaluation of those questions fall to other committees in Congress, and I am pleased that my colleagues on these committees are continuing their pursuit of answers.
"In fact, the Senate Intelligence Committee recently released its own Benghazi report, which criticized State Department officials for not heeding intelligence warnings. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report complements our findings and helps more completely illustrate the multi-layered breakdown that turned deadly in Benghazi."