Yesterday, I wrote about the report on Benghazi issued by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The report found essentially no fault on the part of the CIA or the military in its response the attack in Benghazi — findings that I consider sound.
The report also finds that the administration’s subsequent narrative about the attack was the product of a “flawed” process. What’s more it finds that aspects of the narrative were inaccurate. However, it did not find willful deception or bad faith on the part of any administration official.
The administration and its supporters will, I assume, construe the lack of such findings as exoneration. They should not.
The Committee made no determination one way or another as to the motivation and thought processes of Susan Rice and other administration officials involved in the post-attack spin. It found neither bad faith and dishonesty nor their absence.
Why didn’t the Committee make such findings, one way or the other? The main reason, I suspect, is that the Republican members wanted bipartisan agreement as to the facts (including the fact that Rice’s comments were inaccurate). Keep in mind too that the House Intelligence Committee is something of an island of bipartisanship in the stormy seas of Capitol Hill, which is probably a good thing given the vital and sensitive nature of its work.
Republican members must also have been mindful that Trey Gowdy’s special committee is tasked investigating the Obama administration’s post-attack behavior, among other things. Thus, the honesty and good faith of Team Obama (or the lack thereof) remains the subject of an important, well-publicized House investigation. Indeed, by not opining on this subject, the Intelligence Committee invites Gowdy’s committee to focus sharply on it, and precludes any valid claim that the issue was resolved by another committee.
That said, I still would have preferred a report that was fair, rather than “more than fair,” to administration. For the reasons I discussed yesterday, such a report would have inferred bad faith and dishonesty by Rice and probably others. However, I understand why the Republicans on the Committee settled for less.
Team Obama and its friends in the media may try to create the impression that the administration has dodged a bullet on Benghazi. In reality, it hasn’t.
Rather, a bipartisan House committee has found that key statements by the administration about Benghazi were false. And it has left for Gowdy’s committee the task of determining Whether the false statements were bad faith efforts to deceive.