Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ignored repeated warnings of what one security agent called their “suicide mission” in Benghazi, creating the opportunity that terrorists took on Sept. 11, 2012, to kill the ambassador to Libya, two Republicans on the Benghazi probe charged Tuesday.
As the Select Committee on Benghazi releases its long-awaited report, two of the panel’s Republican members, Reps. Mike Pompeo and Jim Jordan, released their own additional views, taking firm aim at Mrs. Clinton, who they said must answer for why she was so insistent on keeping people in Libya’s troubled second city — creating a target for the terrorists.
“There was a very good chance that everyone was going to die,” one diplomatic security agent told the committee, recalling the troublesome security situation in the run-up to the attack.
And even as Americans were dying in the attack, the State Department seemed more focused on trying to expunge an anti-Islamic video and appeasing the Libyan government than in trying to get aid to those at the diplomatic outpost and a neighboring CIA compound.
Mrs. Clinton personally joined a high-level video meeting the night of the attack and that gathering spent an extraordinary amount of time focused on the video, the lawmakers said. Of 11 action items emerging from that meeting, five of them related to the video, according to an email recounting the meeting, which the committee unearthed.
“What has also emerged is a picture of the State Department eating up valuable time by insisting that certain elements of the U.S. military respond to Libya in civilian clothes and that it not use vehicles with United States markings,” the lawmakers said. “We will never know exactly how long these conditions delayed the military response but that they were even a part of the discussion is troubling.”
Benghazi probe Chairman Trey Gowdy has said his report is not meant to be an indictment of Mrs. Clinton, but rather a look at the full picture in the run-up to the attack, the handling of the attack that night, and the effort to erroneously blame a video later.
But Mr. Pompeo, of Kansas, and Mr. Jordan, of Ohio, did put much of the focus of their 51-page addendum on the former secretary, who is now Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee.
Despite receiving real-time information from those on the ground that there was no evidence of a demonstration, and despite information that the attack was continuous and conducted by those with weapons training — again undercutting the idea of a spontaneous protest — Mrs. Clinton continued to publicly blame the anti-Islam video.
A week after the attack, when the video story was being challenged, her top policy deputy drafted a memo that still blamed it as “the proximate cause” for the deaths of Stevens and three other Americans.
“When given a chance to tell the truth to the American people, she did the opposite,” the two Republicans said in their report.
Much of the ground of the Benghazi probe has been covered before, but Mrs. Clinton’s decision-making in the run-up to the attack comes in for scrutiny, particularly after the panel interviewed and collected documents from dozens of State Department employees who had not been part of previous investigations.
Democrats on the Benghazi probe said Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Jordan didn’t even share the report with them, which the Democrats said was evidence “they don’t want us to fact check it against the evidence we obtained.”
On Monday, the Democrats released their own report, saying that while security in Benghazi was woefully inadequate, Mrs. Clinton can’t be blamed because she never personally rejected any requests for more help.
“Secretary Clinton was active and engaged on the night of the attacks and in the days that followed,” the Democrats concluded.
They said she may have been wrong in her evaluation of the attacks, but said she can’t be blamed, and was using the best available information.