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Benghazi: Will the Senate report hurt Clinton?

The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission was “likely preventable,” but found no cover-up by the Obama administration.

It won’t matter to the true believers, said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post, but the Senate Intelligence Committee last week confirmed what rational observers have known all along about the Right’s beloved Benghazi obsession: “There is no there there.” After a 16-month investigation, the bipartisan committee concluded that the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, was “likely preventable,” but found no cover-up by the Obama administration. Potential rescuers weren’t ordered to “stand down,” as claimed by Fox News. There is no evidence that al Qaida leaders planned or directed the attack. As for Susan Rice’s infamous “talking points,” describing the attack as at least partly fueled by street rage over an anti-Muslim YouTube video, they not only reflected the CIA’s best intelligence at the time but—wait for it—“may turn out to have been correct.” The best news for Democrats, said David Horsey in the Los Angeles Times, is that the words “Hillary Clinton” appear nowhere in the committee’s 58-page report, meaning “not much damage was done to the former secretary of state’s prospects as a presidential candidate.”

Clinton may not have been personally named, said Jonathan Tobin in CommentaryMagazine.com, but as secretary of state, “she was the person responsible for this disaster.” Throughout the summer of 2012 there was a crescendo of small-scale attacks on diplomatic personnel in Benghazi, yet Clinton’s State Department did nothing whatsoever to beef up security. Somehow, said Jennifer Rubin in WashingtonPost.com, it escaped the State Department’s “notice that Libya was being overrun by jihadis,” and contrary to liberal spin the report states unambiguously that members of groups affiliated with al Qaida did participate in the attack. Now that her incompetence and lies have been exposed, Clinton may well “be too hobbled to run for the White House.”

One almost admires the tenacity of those still waging the “GOP jihad” over Benghazi, said David Ignatius in The Washington Post. They once fantasized about destroying Clinton and impeaching President Obama with proof they callously abandoned Stevens to his fate, and then lied to cover it up. Now we have the truth—that there simply were no military assets close enough to reach Benghazi in time, and that Stevens himself twice declined offers of extra security. So all Republicans have left is the lame assertion that the attack could have been prevented had everyone seen it coming. “Frankly, we knew that.”

How is the preventable slaughter of Americans not a scandal? asked Ed Morrissey in FiscalTimes.com. The ultimate blame must rest with Obama himself, whose lack of follow-through after Muammar al-Qaddafi’s ouster is why eastern Libya became “a terrorist haven in the first place.” Obama and Clinton are guilty, at least, of wishful thinking, said Amy Davidson in NewYorker.com. As Benghazi grew more and more dangerous, the White House and State Department, like Stevens, seem to have clung to the idea that we had entered “the happily-ever-after part of the Libyan tale,” in which the grateful residents of this scrappy new democracy would treat Americans like honored guests. That rosy outlook left the administration unprepared when, in the space of a few short hours, the fairy tale ended with heavily armed Libyans storming Stevens’s compound.

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