House Benghazi Committee Won’t Release A Report Until 2016
Politico is reporting that the report of the Select Committee established last year by the House of Representatives is not expected to release its report until some time next year:
A highly anticipated report from the House Select Committee on Benghazi likely won’t be released until 2016 — in the throes of the presidential election season.
Chairman Trey Gowdy has previously said he wanted to finish his inquiry into the 2012 terrorist attacks in 2015, but a spokesman for the panel said Wednesday that outside factors will push the report’s release into next year.
“Factors beyond the committee’s control, including witness availability, compliance with documents requests, the granting of security clearances and accreditations — all of which are controlled by the Executive branch—could continue to impact the timing of the inquiry’s conclusion,” spokesman Jamal Ware said.
Bloomberg News first reported the release date for the report.
The committee has interviewed close to two dozen witnesses and received thousands of pages of documents but is still negotiating with the State Department, FBI and CIA for more access.
The committee has also been formally tasked with investigating Hillary Clinton’s email practices at State, including the documents she said have been wiped from a private server.
Committee member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said the panel would be “much further along by now” if the State Department was seriously responding to document requests.
“It’s largely still that when you have an executive branch that is not being helpful that is what’s slowing everything down,” Jordan said.
The 2016 release will further entangle the already controversial panel with presidential politics.
Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination who was secretary of state during the attacks, and has long been atop the committee’s witness list.
From the beginning, it has always seemed as if this House Select Committee has been concerned less with finding out “the truth” about what happened in Benghazi in September 2012 than it is with creating political problems for the Obama Administration and, more importantly, the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign. As to the first point, it’s difficult to ascertain exactly what it is this new committee is supposed to be uncovering that hasn’t already been covered by previous investigations of this incident. To date, there have been at least three separate Congressional investigations other than the one now being conducted by the Select Committee. The most recent investigation to release its report was the one conducted by the House Intelligence Committee, which conducted an investigation that lasted more than two years. In that report, the committee debunked the major conspiracy theories regarding the incident, and concluded that the State Department, military, and intelligence agencies did everything they could to respond to the attack when it happened. There was, the committee concluded, no evidence of “no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.” What, exactly, this investigation is going to uncover that previous investigations have not uncover is something that House Republicans have never fully explained, and at its heart the entire process seems to be aimed at satisfying those who continue to believe the conspiracy theories regarding the attack that have become part of the political rhetoric of the right.
This is, of course, entirely unsurprising. Even when the committee was first formed a year ago, it was clear that hearings would likely continue well into the Presidential election year, and the way the investigation has proceeded since then seems to suggest that there was never any real effort to conclude it in an expeditious manner. For the most part, there have been few public hearings of the committee to date, and Chairman Trey Gowdy seems to be spending more time arguing with Democrats over which witnesses are going to be called and what documents the committee will request than actually investigating anything. Most recently, of course, the revelations regarding Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State has sent the committee down an entirely new discovery rabbit hole. Shortly after that story broke, Gowdy and other Republicans called on Clinton to make the server physically available t the committee, or at least to its investigative experts so that they can conduct a computer forensic investigation into the manner. Clinton has indicated through her attorneys that she would not be turning over the entire server. Since Gowdy has suggested that the Committee lacks the authority to issue such a subpoena on its own, it’s likely something that the House of Representatives as a whole would have to do, which will obviously not be a problem given that the GOP controls the chamber. All of this, of course, would delay the committee even further from actually conducting an investigation.
After all this legal fighting is over, it seems extremely unlikely that the Select Committee will uncover anything that hasn’t been covered in any of the previous investigations, most especially the House Intelligence Committee report. As I’ve said before, though, it’s quite apparent that the investigation into Benghazi has little to do with uncovering truths and everything to do with scoring political points. If the investigations were concerned with truth, then they would be spending their time examining issues such as those that Marc Ambinder raised in a piece he wrote about this a year ago. They’re not likely to do that, though. Instead, the investigation, such as it is, will be looking for partisan cudgels to use on Clinton and other Democrats. Whether that is something that will actually resonate with voters remains to be seen, but I’m guessing that the answer is not going to be one that will make Republicans happy.