WASHINGTON — Republicans on the House Benghazi Committee faulted the Obama administration Tuesday in a report on the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
The panel's chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, and other Republicans accuse the Obama administration of stonewalling important documents and witnesses. Democrats say the panel's primary goal is to undermine Hillary Clinton's presidential bid.
Clinton was secretary of state during the attacks, which killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, in two assaults at the diplomatic facility and CIA annex.
The Libya attacks became immediate political fodder, given their timing in the weeks before President Barack Obama's re-election, and that has not abated despite seven previous congressional investigations. There has been finger-pointing on both sides over security at the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi and whether the White House initially tried to portray the assault as a protest over an offensive, anti-Muslim video, instead of a calculated terrorist attack.
Democrats released a report Monday saying that while the State Department's security measures in Benghazi the night of Sept. 11, 2012 were "woefully inadequate," Clinton never personally turned down a request for additional security. Democrats said the military could not have done anything differently that night to save the lives of four Americans.
On Tuesday, the panel's Democrats denounced the Republicans' report as "a conspiracy theory on steroids — bringing back long-debunked allegations with no credible evidence whatsoever." The statement added: "Republicans promised a process and report that was fair and bipartisan, but this is exactly the opposite."
The State Department also issued a statement Tuesday, saying that the "essential facts" of the attacks "have been known for some time," and have been the subject of numerous reviews, including one by an independent review board.
Spokesman Mark Toner said the department had implemented most of the recommendations of the independent review board and is continuing to expand security at its facilities and improve threat assessment.
"We have made great progress towards making our posts safer since 2012," Toner said in a statement. "Our priority continues to be carrying out our national security mission while mitigating the risks to our employees," he said.
Toner said the department cooperated extensively with the House panel, providing more than 50 current and former employees for interviews and over 100,000 pages of documents.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who helped write the Republican report, told CNN that "too little effort was made to protect" Stevens and the others. "We didn't move Heaven and Earth to get help to the people who were fighting for their lives," he said.