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Final Benghazi report touted as ‘definitive’

WASHINGTON — Republicans who remain convinced that there was an Obama administration coverup surrounding the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, are pinning their hopes on one last congressional probe to produce proof of a scandal.

Others in the GOP are urging that the party drop the Benghazi conspiracy theories and move on.

The House Select Committee on Benghazi will produce what Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said will be “the definitive report” on the attack that killed four Americans on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, and he reappointed Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a former federal prosecutor known for his patterned blazers and impressive oratorical skills, to lead the panel.

“Two years later, the American people still have far too many questions about what happened that night — and why,” Boehner said in a statement.

The heightened interest in the select committee occurs as a result of a House Intelligence Committee report, released last week, that rejected long-running conspiracy theories that the U.S. military was prevented from rescuing Americans targeted in the attack.

Gowdy’s committee will hold a public hearing next month — only its second since being established in May — with other hearings planned for next year, including several behind closed doors to review classified information, according to aides who weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Democrats complain that the committee is a waste of time and money, since it has developed no clear purpose or specific plan.

Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s foreign policy — say that the Gowdy panel can produce significant results because it enjoys a broader mandate than the oversight committees that have produced reports so far. In those cases, the committees investigated specific actions by the CIA, Pentagon or State Department.

“I hope a joint committee looking at all three agencies together, rather than stove-piping, can get through this,” Graham said over the weekend on CNN. The South Carolina Republican was especially critical of the House Intelligence Committee report.

While the report faulted the CIA and other agencies for incorrectly assessing what caused the attacks and the White House for a “flawed” public response, it mostly debunked the assertions that the casualties were caused by delayed military response.

Graham called the intelligence panel’s report “absolute garbage.” Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” he said the report “puts all the blame on the State Department and absolves the intelligence community.”

“When the Department of Defense committees looked at (the attacks), the Department of Defense was held blameless. At the end of the day, everybody is pointing fingers to everybody else,” he said.


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