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Move To Declassify Latest Benghazi Report Undercuts Conspiracy Claims Yet Again

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WASHINGTON -- The House Intelligence Committee voted Thursday to declassify its investigative Benghazi report, a move that likely further undercuts the premise behind the House's $3.3 million Benghazi select committee.

When it is released, the report will mark the fourth major probe of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the American consulate in eastern Libya, all of which have identified flaws in the responses, the intelligence and the security surrounding the incident that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Chris Stephens.

But none of the reports have found any wrongdoing or hints of conspiracy that the recently created House Benghazi select committee is tasked with unmasking.

The House Armed Services Committee found the military did all that it could to intervene. It also discredited the claim that someone ordered military forces to stand down. The State Department's legally mandated Accountability Review Board investigation came to similar conclusions, led by Ambassador Tom Pickering and retired Adm. Michael Mullen, former Reagan and Bush administration officials.

A Senate Intelligence Committee review achieved similar results.

It is unclear exactly when the Intelligence Committee report will be released, or how much will be declassified after vetting by intelligence officials.

But one member of both the House Intelligence Committee and the Benghazi panel said it will be very much in line with its predecessors.

"The Intelligence Committee report adds to the body of investigative work now completed by numerous committees in Congress, and reaches the same noncontroversial conclusions -- that the initial talking points provided by the intelligence community were flawed because of conflicting assessments not an intention to deceive, that there was no stand down order, that the diplomatic facilities lacked adequate security, and that our personnel at the scene acted bravely and appropriately," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) in a statement.

"This bipartisan report should be declassified quickly, so that the American people may know what we have learned behind closed doors, and how it concurs with other analysis already made public," he added.

The plan to release the report was so uncontroversial among the secrecy-minded committee members that it passed on a simple voice vote.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, noted that the new report would be the latest to show the exact opposite of what Boehner said the select committee would prove. Cummings has often sparred with Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Benghazi claims.

"The Benghazi Select Committee was created more than two months ago, but Republican committee chairmen who were passed over continue to hold their own hearings, release their own transcripts, and issue their own reports -- achieving exactly the opposite result Speaker Boehner promised when he created the Select Committee and authorized its $3.3 million budget."

UPDATE: 2:50 p.m. -- A statement released later by the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.), was more emphatic and detailed in asserting a lack of any sort of cover-up, including on the much-maligned talking points that the White House used initially linking the attack to a YouTube video.

Here is the full statement:

"The House Intelligence Committee spent nearly two years looking at every aspect of the Intelligence Community's activities before, during and after the attacks of September 11, 2012, in Benghazi Libya. The Committee spent thousands of hours in the course of the investigation, which included poring over pages of intelligence assessments, cables, notes and emails. The Committee held twenty briefings and hearings and conducted detailed interviews with senior intelligence officials and eyewitnesses to the attacks, including eight security personnel on the ground in Benghazi that night. The result is a bipartisan, factual, definitive report on what the Intelligence Community did and did not do.

This report shows that there was no intelligence failure surrounding the Benghazi attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans. Our investigation found the Intelligence Community warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened, Americans which is consistent with testimony that the attacks appeared to be opportunistic. It also found that a mixed group of individuals including those associated with Al-Qaeda, Qadafi loyalists and other Libyan militias participated in the attack. Additionally, the report shows there was no "stand down order" given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, and no American was left behind.

The report also shows that the process used to develop the talking points was flawed, but that the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis. Finally, the report demonstrates that there was no illegal activity or illegal arms sales occurring at U.S. facilities in Benghazi. And there was absolutely no evidence, in documents or testimony, that the Intelligence Community's assessments were politically motivated in any way.

This bi-partisan report, adopted unanimously on July 31, 2014, and sent to the Intelligence Community for a declassification review, recognizes that only with a full accounting of the facts, separate from the swirl of rumors and unsupported allegations that have surfaced, can America ensure that tragedies like this don't happen again."

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.

 
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