The terror attack on a U.S. outpost in Libya was preceded by security cutbacks authorized at the “highest levels” of the State Department, and the Obama administration’s explanation in the immediate aftermath of the fatal assault was altered to protect the agency, House Republicans said in a report on the issue released Tuesday.
The 43-page report is the work of five House committees and concludes that decisions to scale back security at the Benghazi, Libya, outpost went all the way up to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The report cites a spring 2012 exchange in which Gene Cretz, the U.S. ambassador to Libya at the time, requested more security and Clinton responded by saying proceed with security-reduction efforts.
“Senior State Department officials knew that the threat environment in Benghazi was high and that the Benghazi compound was vulnerable and unable to withstand an attack, yet the department continued to systematically withdraw security personnel,” the report states.
The Sept. 11, 2012, attack killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Several days later, Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, appeared on five Sunday talks shows, saying the attacks were spontaneous and prompted by protests in Egypt over an anti-Islamic video.
Rice late said she misspoke, as administration officials said the talking points prepared for her by U.S. intelligence officials where scrubbed for the purpose of national security.
The House Republicans’ report states the words “Islamic extremists” and links to Al Qaeda in Benghazi were removed following a meeting among White House deputies a few days after the attack.