Feb 10 2014
Report Details Six Key Findings
WASHINGTON – The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations released a comprehensive report today evaluating the response of the Department of Defense (DOD) to the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. Read the Report
To undertake the committee’s review, Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon directed the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to work alongside the full committee. As a result, this report expresses the views of Chairman McKeon, Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry, Rep. Martha Roby (who was the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee until December 2013), and the five majority members of that subcommittee.
To date, committee staff has reviewed thousands of pages of written material (including classified emails and situation reports) made available by DOD. Staff has also held three classified staff briefings, and two classified interviews. Members have participated in two open hearings, and seven additional classified briefings. In undertaking this work, the committee has met with and received information from military personnel in the entire chain of command in connection with Benghazi: from those on the ground at the time of the attack to the nation’s senior-most uniformed leader.
While the committee’s inquiry continues, the majority members believe that information gathered to date reaffirm the relevant findings in the Interim Progress Report for the Members of the Republican Conference on the Events Surrounding the September 11, 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, Libya issued in April 2013 by the five committees with jurisdiction in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Based on its activities undertaken since the release of that report, majority members make the six findings listed below:
Read the Report (PDF)
I. In assessing military posture in anticipation of the September 11 anniversary, White House officials failed to comprehend or ignored the dramatically deteriorating security situation in Libya and the growing threat to U.S. interests in the region. Official public statements seem to have exaggerated the extent and rigor of the security assessment conducted at the time.
II. U.S. personnel in Benghazi were woefully vulnerable in September 2012 because a.) the administration did not direct a change in military force posture, b.) there was no intelligence of a specific “imminent” threat in Libya, and c.) the Department of State, which has primary responsibility for diplomatic security, favored a reduction of Department of Defense security personnel in Libya before the attack.
III. Defense Department officials believed nearly from the outset of violence in Benghazi that it was a terrorist attack rather than a protest gone awry, and the President subsequently permitted the military to respond with minimal direction.
IV. The U.S. military’s response to the Benghazi attack was severely degraded because of the location and readiness posture of U.S. forces, and because of lack of clarity about how the terrorist action was unfolding. However, given the uncertainty about the prospective length and scope of the attack, military commanders did not take all possible steps to prepare for a more extended operation.
V. There was no “stand down” order issued to U.S. military personnel in Tripoli who sought to join the fight in Benghazi. However, because official reviews after the attack were not sufficiently comprehensive, there was confusion about the roles and responsibilities of these individuals.
VI. The Department of Defense is working to correct many weaknesses revealed by the Benghazi attack, but the global security situation is still deteriorating and military resources continue to decline.