Unfortunately for Hillary Clinton, Benghazi is once again rearing its ugly head in the wake of an Armed Services Committee investigation report last Tuesday. The investigation concluded that the military response to the attack was free of blame, and that US personnel in Benghazi were “woefully vulnerable” because “..White House officials failed to comprehend or ignored the deteriorating security situation in Libya and the growing threat to US interest in the region.” The report also found that Defense Department officials believed that it was a terrorist attack from its onset, rather than a protest gone awry has Clinton claimed following the attack.
The report is a bullet list of every accusation pointed at Clinton by the GOP since the attacks in 2012. The RNC continues to call Benghazi “..the defining moment of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state” and there is no end in sight to critical reports. OPSEC (short for “operational security”), a right-leaning group composed of former special forces and intelligence operatives, plans to release a report within days on their take of Benghazi. Given that OPSEC president Scott Taylor believes Clinton “did nothing to help prevent the death of four Americans in Benghazi”, a glowing review seems unlikely.
However Clinton is certainly not without allies of her own. Supporters are quick to point out the State Department review in 2012 that cited two leadership departments as to why security at Benghazi was so unprepared but did not blame Clinton herself. Support can also be found in unlikely places. The GOP’s favorite ex-general David Petraeus, who currently chairs the Global Institute at KKR, stated that Clinton would make a “tremendous President” and that ”In the wake of the Benghazi attacks, for example, she was extraordinarily resolute, determined, and controlled.” A surprising endorsement, given that Clinton publicly criticized Petraeus during his time as theater commander in Iraq.
Clinton’s response to the controversy so far has been largely evasive, but as we enter 2014 it is clear that Republicans consider Benghazi a weak point in her defenses and are unlikely to stop poking at it as long as she is expected to seek a presidential bid in 2016.