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Roger L. Simon

Benghazi’s Back — Sort Of

December 18th, 2012 - 10:27 pm

Benghazi is back.

In a way.

The awaited special report by an independent review panel led by retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering and the former Joint Chiefs chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, has been delivered to Congress and offered few revelations, at least according to the Associated Press.

The report appeared to break little new ground about the timeline of the Benghazi attack during which Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens, information specialist Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods — who were contractors working for the CIA — were killed. Stevens’ slaying was the first of a U.S. ambassador since 1988.

But it confirmed that contrary to initial accounts, there was no protest outside the consulate and said responsibility for the incident rested entirely with the terrorists who attacked the mission.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, administration officials linked the attack to the spreading protests over an American-made, anti-Islamic film that had begun in Cairo earlier that day. Those comments came after evidence already pointed to a distinct militant attack. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on numerous TV talk shows the Sunday after the attack and used the administration talking points linking it to the film.

But we knew that, didn’t we?

The report apparently also excoriates State Department branches (the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near East Affairs) for security lapses. Something else we knew — or at least assumed. Security at the Benghazi compound was obviously horrendous. It didn’t take a report — or a rocket scientist — to tell you that.

Further, according to the AP, the report exonerates the military. Quoting verbatim: “There was simply not enough time for armed U.S. military assets to have made a difference.”

How that was ascertained is unclear since the same report adds little to what we know of the timeline. But never mind. Perhaps that will be made clear when Pickering and Mullen testify before Congress on Wednesday. Or perhaps not.

The report also makes 29 recommendations for tightening up security in these dangerous foreign venues, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, herself not able to testify because of a concussion, has nonetheless found time to accept. She thanked the review board for their work.

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