The House Select Committee on Benghazi!!! (aka the “Get Hillary” Partisan Witch Hunt Committee) has finally concluded, the longest congressional investigation in U.S. history — longer than the Kennedy Assassination, COINTELPRO, Watergate, Iran-Contra, 9-11, all of them — and it is a bust. House Benghazi Report Finds No New Evidence of Wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton:
Ending one of the longest, costliest and most bitterly partisan congressional investigations in history, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report on Tuesday, finding no new evidence of culpability or wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton in the 2012 attacks in Libya that left four Americans dead.
The 800-page report delivered a broad rebuke of the Defense Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department — and the officials who led them — for failing to grasp the acute security risks in Benghazi, and especially for maintaining outposts there that they could not protect.
Everyone but Congress itself for failing to adequately fund the security needs of State Department posts. What a convenient oversight.
The report, which included perhaps the most exhaustive chronology of the attacks to date, did not dispute that United States military forces stationed in Europe could not have reached Benghazi in time to rescue the personnel who died — a central finding of previous inquiries.
“The assets ultimately deployed by the Defense Department in response to the Benghazi attacks were not positioned to arrive before the final, lethal attack,” the committee wrote. “The fact that this is true does not mitigate the question of why the world’s most powerful military was not positioned to respond.”
But the lack of any clear finding of professional misconduct or dereliction of duty was certain to fuel further criticism of the length of the investigation — more than two years — and the expense, estimated at more than $7 million. It also bolstered Democrats’ allegations that the inquiry was specifically intended to damage Mrs. Clinton’s presidential prospects.
The Democratic minority issued its own report the day prior. House Democrats Release Benghazi Report to Blunt Republican Inquiry:
House Democrats on Monday moved to pre-empt the findings of a two-year Republican-led investigation into the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed, by issuing their own 339-page report that cast the inquiry as a politically motivated crusade that wasted time and money.
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In their counternarrative, the Democrats serving on the House Select Committee said they had been virtually shut out of the process of developing the report, and they accused their Republican counterparts of trying to besmirch Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, who was secretary of state during the Benghazi attack.
“Section II of our report documents the grave abuses that Select Committee Republicans engaged in during this investigation,” the Democrats wrote. “Republicans excluded Democrats from interviews, concealed exculpatory evidence, withheld interview transcripts, leaked inaccurate information, issued unilateral subpoenas, sent armed marshals to the home of a cooperative witness and even conducted political fund-raising by exploiting the deaths of four Americans.”
The Democrats also singled out Mr. Gowdy for criticism. “In our opinion, Chairman Gowdy has been conducting this investigation like an overzealous prosecutor desperately trying to land a front-page conviction rather than a neutral judge of facts seeking to improve the security of our diplomatic corps,” they wrote.
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The report includes some criticism: “The State Department’s security measures in Benghazi were woefully inadequate as a result of decisions made by officials in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.” But it absolves Ms. Clinton of responsibility, adding, “Secretary Clinton never personally denied any requests for additional security in Benghazi.”
The Democrats accused the Republicans of spending more than $7 million on an investigation that they argued would not reveal any substantially new information that would alter the understanding of events as described in multiple previous inquiries.
Paul Waldman of the Washington Post makes the salient point that people will always remember the salacious allegations — generated by the conservative media entertainment complex — but not the investigation’s conclusion of no wrongdoing. “Think about this as Whitewater Part II.” Republicans accomplish their Benghazi mission:
After two years and $7 million spent, House Republicans’ Select Committee on Benghazi finally released its report today, and there’s only one thing to say in response: Mission Accomplished, fellas.
It’s true that they didn’t achieve their ultimate goal, which was to find the proof that Hillary Clinton did something so vile, so shocking, so unspeakable that no one could possibly vote to make her president of the United States. But short of that, Republicans got exactly what they wanted out of this committee, which, as you’ll recall, was organized after seven other investigations (most of which were also run by Republicans) failed to provide a satisfactory indictment of Clinton.
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So considered as a non-scandal milked for every last ounce of political advantage that could be squeezed out of it, Benghazi now stands second only to Whitewater in contemporary history. And the parallels with Whitewater [ The Clintons themselves were never prosecuted] are indeed striking. Whitewater began as a failed land deal in which, it would eventually become clear, Bill and Hillary lost some money but never did anything criminal, as their pursuers had hoped to find. Benghazi began as an awful attack on American personnel for which, it would eventually become clear, Hillary Clinton bears ultimate responsibility as Secretary of State but never did anything criminal, as her pursuers had hoped to find.
Along the way of the Whitewater investigation, the Clintons’ own Inspector Javert, Ken Starr, discovered that Bill Clinton had been having an affair with Monica Lewinsky. Running down every prurient detail of that affair then became the focus of his investigation, and Republicans positively vibrated with ecstasy at the thought of impeaching the president they hated so much. Along the way of the Benghazi investigation, Trey Gowdy discovered that while at the State Department, Hillary Clinton used a private email server instead of the department’s system; Republicans were similarly aroused by the possibility that the email issue could be used to bring her down once and for all. Just as Bill’s affair with Monica was sordid but not an impeachable offense, Clinton’s decision to use private email was foolish and a violation of State Department policy, but not a crime (though we don’t yet have the final word on that from the FBI’s investigation).
Nevertheless, Benghazi long ago did its job, bringing down Clinton’s favorability ratings and spreading the idea that she’s untrustworthy, even if people don’t quite know what it was that she did wrong.
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[Y]ou might ask what the point of all this was, if after this spectacularly lengthy and expensive investigation we didn’t actually learn much that we didn’t already know, other than some details here and there.
But ah, the emails. That we got. And that gives Republican officials and voters something they can hang their visceral loathing of Hillary Clinton on. Even those who long ago gave up hope in the absurd conspiracy theories swirling around Benghazi (like the idea that Clinton issued a “stand down” order that directly led to the four deaths) now say that it’s the email server that demonstrates the true depths of her villainy. “She oughta be in jail! Because, you know, that email thing!” they say (and Donald Trump says it too), which sounds a lot more like a substantive critique than “God I just hate that b-tch.”
Over on Fox News, they’re characterizing this report as a hundred-megaton bombshell of damaging revelations about Clinton. I’m sure that this afternoon all the conservative radio hosts will be singing the same tune. The fact that it didn’t actually find anything new about Benghazi to pin on Clinton isn’t at all important. As a political tool, which it was from the moment John Boehner created the select committee, it has amply served its purpose.
This is how the Mighty Wurlitzer of the right-wing noise machine works, it has perfected the politics of personal destruction and the Big lie propaganda technique (where a known falsehood is stated and repeated so often that it becomes ingrained in the mind of the listener as if it is self-evidently true).