How The Newest House Benghazi Report Should Change Media's Approach To Gowdy's Select Committee
Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA MARSHALL
As the House Intelligence Committee's Benghazi report further dismantles the right-wing's Benghazi hoax, will media keep legitimizing House Republicans' repetitious select committee on the attacks?
Less than two months before Rep. Trey Gowdy's (R-SC) House Select Committee is set to begin its Benghazi hearings, the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously on July 31 to declassify its report on the deadly 2012 attacks on American facilities. The committee found no evidence of wrongdoing by the Obama administration, confirming "that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given," as committee member Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) explained. Ranking member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) stressed that the "bipartisan, factual," and "definitive" report found no evidence of a scandal involving the intelligence community's talking points on the attacks:
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.
The House Intelligence Committee report joins previous Benghazi investigations by the State Department's independent Accountability Review Board (ARB), the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Armed Services Committee which have repeatedly debunked right-wing Benghazi myths that have persisted since the attacks, including the falsehood that a "stand down" order was given to troops stationed in Tripoli and the myth that the administration lied about the attacks having been caused by an anti-Islam YouTube video.
The findings present a new challenge for media outlets in the runup to Gowdy's Benghazi select committee, explicitly formed to investigate "unanswered questions" that previous Benghazi investigations have long-since asked and answered. When House Republicans announced plans to form the committee in May, many in the media presented Gowdy's premise of "unanswered questions" as legitimate.
CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger told CNN Newsroom host Carol Costello in a May 9 discussion on Gowdy's select committee that "there are a lot of unanswered questions" on Benghazi, and on the May 21 edition of the program, Wolf Blitzer conceded to Republican myths on the attacks (emphasis added, via Nexis):
BLITZER: I think the major question that the Republicans want answered is, people at the White House, what was their direct involvement from the president, the vice president, the national security adviser and others on down. They've gotten a lot of information from what was going on at the State Department. They've gotten a lot of documents and information, what was going on at the U.S. military, the Pentagon, the Africa command and other U.S. military operations in the intelligence community, they've gotten significant information. But the Republicans believe there's still a lot of information out there that the administration has not made available, specifically information as to what the White House was doing, what the president of the United States specifically was doing. That's what they say they want, and that's presumably what they're hoping to get in the course of the select committee hearings.
Blitzer further legitimized the select committee on May 22, pressing Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on why Ambassador Chris Stevens was in Benghazi the day of the attack and suggesting the committee could find an answer to this already-answered question.
Now, the House Intelligence Committee's finding that there was no intentional wrongdoing on the part of the administration in the Benghazi attacks adds to a pile of overwhelming evidence against the right-wing's Benghazi hoax. Will it finally be enough to convince the media to stop taking Gowdy and his misguided Benghazi witch-hunt seriously?