Benghazi Bombshell Lands on Obama and Hillary’s Lap

Published on April 24, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 9.47.43 AMFormer Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, vulnerable by approving lax security measures, a report released Tuesday by House Republicans concluded.

The 46-page report accused Clinton — a possible White House contender in 2016 — of seeking to cover up failures by the State Department that could have contributed to the attack last year that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The report, compiled by five House panels after a seven-month investigation, said Clinton approved reductions in security levels prior to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, contradicting Clinton’s testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Jan. 23.

“Senior State Department officials knew that the threat environment in Benghazi was high and that the Benghazi compound was vulnerable and unable to withstand an attack, yet the Department continued to systematically withdraw security personnel,” the report states.

“Repeated requests for additional security were denied at the highest levels of the State Department,” it said. “For example, an April 2012 State Department cable bearing Secretary Hillary Clinton’s signature acknowledged then-Ambassador [Gene] Cretz’s formal request for additional security assets but ordered the withdrawal of security elements to proceed as planned.”

“Clinton testified that the more than 1 million cables that come to the State Department from the field every year are addressed to her and those that go out from Foggy Bottom bear her signature, regardless of who wrote them.”

It also accuses the White House and senior State Department officials of altering accurate talking points drafted by the intelligence community in order to protect the department in the days after the attack.

Contrary to what the administration has stated, the report said the talking points were not edited to protect classified information, and notes that concern for classified information is never mentioned in email traffic among senior administration officials.

The report, distributed to Republican House members on Tuesday, aims in part to inoculate Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his committee leaders from conservative criticism that they’re giving the Obama administration a free pass on Benghazi by opposing the creation of a select committee endorsed by more than half the Republican conference.

It’s also a first shot at Clinton’s legacy at the State Department as she begins to lay the groundwork for a possible presidential run in 2016.

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