WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton never personally denied any requests from diplomats for additional security at the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, according to Democrats on a select House panel who absolved the former secretary of state and the U.S. military of wrongdoing in the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, attacks.
In a report yesterday pre-empting the Republicans, the panel’s five Democrats said after a two-year investigation that the military could not have done anything differently that night to save the lives of four Americans killed in Libya. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens died in one of the two assaults at the diplomatic facility and CIA annex.
The Democrats’ release of their own report heightened the partisanship of the inquiry, which has been marked by finger-pointing on both sides. Republicans accuse the Obama administration of stonewalling important documents and witnesses, while Democrats say the panel’s primary goal is to undermine Clinton’s presidential bid.
The Libya attacks became immediate political fodder, given their timing in the weeks before President Barack Obama’s re-election, and it has not abated despite seven previous congressional investigations.
The panel’s Republican majority missed a self-imposed deadline to issue a report “before summer,” but the Democrats’ move in issuing their report could spur the GOP’s final product.
Whatever the timing, the Republican report is certain to have repercussions for Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The investigation led to the revelation that she relied on a private email server to conduct government business, a practice now the subject of an FBI probe.
Democrats said they regretted that their 344-page report was not bipartisan, but said Republicans left them little choice after conducting “one of the longest and most partisan congressional investigations in history.” The inquiry has lasted nearly 25 months and cost more than $7 million so far.