The report faults the military for being unable to help when needed. “No U.S. military resources in position to intervene in short order in Benghazi to help defend” the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, it said.
Yet it points out that Stevens had rejected additional security. The Defense Department had provided a Site Security Team in Tripoli, made up of 16 special operations personnel to provide security and other help. The State Department, according to the report, decided not to extend the team’s mission in August 2012, one month before the attack. In the weeks that followed, Gen. Carter Ham, the head of Africa Command, twice asked Stevens to employ the team, and twice Stevens declined, the report said.
The report also dives into the contentious talking points issued by the intelligence community after the attacks that helped fuel Republican allegations of an Obama administration cover-up of militant links to the violence.
“Intelligence analysts inaccurately referred to the presence of a protest at the U.S. mission facility before the attack based on open source information and limited intelligence, but without sufficient intelligence or eyewitness statements to corroborate that assertion,” the report said, adding that the U.S. intelligence community then took too long to correct their error, “which caused confusion and influenced the public statements of policymakers.”
It also says the intelligence community should expand its mining of social media to watch for unrest, and also draw more heavily on eyewitness reporting “especially from U.S. government personnel_in the aftermath of a crisis.”
The senators also take the administration to task for failing to bring the attackers to justice more than a year after the Benghazi attacks.
It says U.S. intelligence has identified several individuals responsible, but can’t track them down because of limited intelligence capabilities in the region.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the committee report “largely reaffirms” the earlier findings from an independent panel. He said a number of the committee’s security recommendations are also consistent with steps the State Department has already taken.
“This reinforces what other investigations have found, which is that there was not enough security to protect the four Americans who lost their lives,” Carney told reporters traveling with Obama Tuesday to North Carolina.