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Senate Intelligence Committee: Benghazi Attack Was Preventable

"The State Department should have increased its security posture more significantly in Benghazi based on the deteriorating security situation," the bipartisan report argues.

Posted on January 15, 2014, at 10:48 a.m. ET

Esam Al-Fetori / Reuters / Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday released a scathing new report on the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, charging the attack could have been prevented and that the Obama administration used inadequate intelligence in initially blaming it on spontaneous protests.

The Sept. 12, 2012, attack, which left multiple Americans dead including Ambassador Chris Stevens, has become one of the biggest scandals of President Obama's administration and could create complications in any future presidential run by former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who was in charge of the State Department at the time of the attacks.

Although administration officials and some Democrats initially sought to place the blame for the attack on protests against an anti-Islam movie, the report makes clear that the intelligence community had ample warning of the attacks and the overall grim security situation in Benghazi.

"In spite of the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi and ample strategic warnings, the Unites States government simply did not do enough to prevent these attacks and ensure the safety of those serving," Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss said in a release.

The report notes that "In the months before the attacks on Sept. 11, 2012, the [intelligence community] provided strategic warning through numerous intelligence reports that the security situation in eastern Libya was deteriorating and that U.S. facilities and personnel were at risk" and despite those warnings, the State Department didn't take steps to increase security.

"The State Department should have increased its security posture more significantly in Benghazi based on the deteriorating security situation," the report argues.

The committee also found that analysts "inaccurately referred to the presence of a protest at the U.S. mission facility before the attack" and that the intelligence community "took too long to correct these erroneous reports, which caused confusion and influenced the public statements of policymakers."

Those findings could be a silver lining for the administration and Clinton. Conservatives have repeatedly accused Clinton and the White House of purposefully lying to the public in the days immediately following the attack.

The bipartisan report, approved by a voice vote of the committee's members last month, also includes new recommendations to be improve security at diplomatic facilities, including ensuring facilities meet current security standards, expanding the intelligence community's ability to "conduct analysis of open source information including extremist-affiliated social media" to provide a better picture of security threats, and greater cooperation between the State Department, the Department of Defense, and the intelligence community to identify security gaps and threats.

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