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PBS NewsHour

New report rejects conspiracies surrounding Benghazi attack

An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after
         being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012. The capture of an alleged leader
         of the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, gave U.S. officials a rare moment of good news. Now, they are
         preparing to try the captured Libyan in the U.S. court system. File photo from the scene of the explosion by STR/AFP/GettyImages

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

Read Ken Dilanian’s article for the Associated Press on the new Benghazi report in full, here.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Late yesterday, there were new findings about the attack in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, that led to the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Ken Dilanian of The Associated Press wrote about it, joins us now from Washington.

So, Ken, what were the findings?

KEN DILANIAN: Well, Hari, this report essentially debunked almost every criticism that had been leveled at the Obama administration over this incident.

It basically said that there was no intent to mislead the American public about it, that the CIA and the military acted appropriately, and that many of the conspiracy theories that have been out there about cover-ups and dark forces at work were not accurate.

And, principally, the most interesting finding for me is that after the — the weekend after the attack, the then-ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, went on the Sunday shows — many viewers may remember — and said that the attack had evolved from a peaceful protest.

That turned out to be wrong, and she and the administration took a lot of flak as a result of that error. This report by the House Intelligence Committee, which is a Republican-controlled committee, essentially says that Rice was relying on intelligence that was provided to her from the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

And in fact, points out that there were 21 intelligence reports that said that there had been a protest at this diplomatic facility. Those turned out to be wrong, but the intelligence picture was incredibly confused.

And so, the report found there was no intent to mislead by anybody in the government about what happened here.

HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. So, what makes this particular committee or this particular finding different? There have been previous investigations, right?

KEN DILANIAN: Yes, this is the — this is the seventh congressional investigation, I believe, and the eighth overall. And this, essentially, mirrored some of the findings of the other investigations, particularly on the role of the military.

But this one — the House Intelligence Committee has access to classified intelligence and CIA personnel that other committees don’t have.

And so, this report got the deepest into what the intelligence said, you know, who carried out the attack, what their motivations were. In fact, it pointed out that to this day, that’s not — that’s not completely clear.

And what was also significant about this is that it’s a Republican-controlled committee. The chairman is Mike Rogers, outgoing retiring member from Michigan, a very partisan Republican.

But he concluded and his colleagues concluded, that many of the charges against the Obama administration, which have been leveled by Republicans — this has been a big political issue — many of those charges just simply — they just — they don’t hold up.

HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. So, what are the repercussions now? Does this change — there’s — I think there’s one more committee that could have findings?

KEN DILANIAN: Well, there is a — there is a select committee that is supposed to continue an investigation into this issue. And they have said they will take this latest finding into account, but some of the key Republicans on that committee have come out and said, look, this House Intelligence Committee report debunks a lot of the questions you guys have been raising.

So, let’s focus on what we all agree was a shortcoming in this incident, which is that facility was not well protected, the State Department part of the facility, in particular, was not well-protected. The people guarding it knew that and they had asked for more better security from Washington, and that was not granted.

Everyone agrees that that was a shortcoming and the hope is that this — at least among Democrats — that this committee can focus on that shortcoming and rectifying it, and better protecting diplomatic facilities around the world.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Any idea how many dollars all these investigations cost?

KEN DILANIAN: You know, I don’t know, but it’s got to be tens of millions. I mean — I mean, there’s document gathering that takes place — this probe alone, there were 20 hearings or events by the House Intelligence Committee and they talked to dozens of people and reviewed thousands of documents. It’s been an enormous undertaking.

I think — and we’ll never know how much time executive branch personnel have spent responding to these inquiries.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Ken Dilanian of The Associated Press, thanks so much for joining us.

KEN DILANIAN: Thanks for having me, Hari.

The post New report rejects conspiracies surrounding Benghazi attack appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Republicans insist Obama has gone too far with action shielding millions from deportation

How immigrants are reacting to Obama’s action

VOICE OF IMMIGRATION     monitor

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

JUDY WOODRUFF: The strong response to the president’s speech went far beyond Capitol Hill. Around the country, some immigrants and their families and supporters applauded the move. Others said the president either went too far or has yet to go far enough. We hear now from some of those voices in their own words.

Some did not want to be identified, so we have chosen not to name names.

WOMAN: It’s my case. You know, it’s my parents’ case. It’s a lot of my friends’ cases.

And we feel like we’re just being stepped on, and we’re not considered human beings. We’re just seen as people who are coming to this country to do illegal things or be criminals. Now we can breathe a little bit, but continue to fight for the rest of the millions of immigrants that continue to stay behind the shadows.

WOMAN: I don’t think that this is a good way to give the community that we deserve, the community, and there will be a lot of workers, a lot of day laborers and community members who also deserve to be here, to stay in the country, because we contribute to the economy of this country, too.

WOMAN: I’m going to be able to work for this community that — and this country that it’s my country. It’s my country.

MAN: I’m undocumented, and, unfortunately, I have a criminal record, so I am not eligible for this.

WOMAN (through interpreter): It’s a step forward. Because my son graduated, he has his master’s degree, but, unfortunately, he wasn’t able to do anything. He arrived when he was 13 years old. It’s such a big fight, and there’s so much frustration among the youth who have studied and can’t do anything. But what the president just did is a big achievement.

MAN (through interpreter): He didn’t say anything, absolutely anything. It’s the same that he had said previously, the same lies. He wants to further militarize the borders. That money, they can use it for other things, at schools. They can do many more things, instead of criminalizing people, which is the only thing that they are doing.

WOMAN: This means a lot of stability for me and my kids.

WOMAN: One of my biggest fears was always losing my mom, especially because my dad’s not around as much in our lives.

WOMAN: I’m a citizen, and right now I don’t have a job and, you know, things like that. So, it’s going to be, I think, a little bit of a problem for us that have been here for a long time. You know, we have been here legal — legally for a long time, you know? And we’re not really making it. So, if we have more people, it will be worse.

The post How immigrants are reacting to Obama’s action appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

House Intelligence Committee investigation debunks many Benghazi theories

WASHINGTON — A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was 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.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when in fact there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found. The report did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people.

The House Intelligence Committee report was released with little fanfare on the Friday before Thanksgiving week. Many of its findings echo those of six previous investigations by various congressional committees and a State Department panel. The eighth Benghazi investigation is being carried out by a House Select Committee appointed in May.

The attacks in Benghazi killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith, and two CIA contractors, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty. A Libyan extremist, Ahmed Abu Khatalla, is facing trial on murder charges after he was captured in Libya and taken to the U.S.

In the aftermath of the attacks, Republicans criticized the Obama administration and its then-secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is expected to run for president in 2016. People in and out of government have alleged that a CIA response team was ordered to “stand down” after the State Department compound came under attack, that a military rescue was nixed, that officials intentionally downplayed the role of al-Qaida figures in the attack, and that Stevens and the CIA were involved in a secret operation to spirit weapons out of Libya and into the hands of Syrian rebels. None of that is true, according to the House Intelligence Committee report.

The report did find, however, that the State Department facility where Stevens and Smith were killed was not well-protected, and that State Department security agents knew they could not defend it from a well-armed attack. Previous reports have found that requests for security improvements were not acted upon in Washington.

“We spent thousands of hours asking questions, poring over documents, reviewing intelligence assessments, reading cables and emails, and held a total of 20 committee events and hearings,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the committee’s chairman, and Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the ranking Democrat, in a joint statement.

“We conducted detailed interviews with senior intelligence officials from Benghazi and Tripoli as well as eight security personnel on the ground in Benghazi that night. Based on the testimony and the documents we reviewed, we concluded that all the CIA officers in Benghazi were heroes. Their actions saved lives,” they said.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who serves on the intelligence panel and the Benghazi select committee, said, “It’s my hope that this report will put to rest many of the questions that have been asked and answered yet again, and that the Benghazi Select Committee will accept these findings and instead focus its attention on the State Department’s progress in securing our facilities around the world and standing up our fast response capabilities.”

Some of the harshest charges have been leveled at Rice, now Obama’s national security adviser, who represented the Obama administration on Sunday talk shows the weekend after the attack. Rice repeated talking points that wrongly described a protest over a video deemed offensive to Muslims.

But Rice’s comments were based on faulty intelligence from multiple agencies, according to the report. Analysts received 21 reports that a protest occurred in Benghazi, the report said —14 from the Open Source Center, which reviews news reports; one from the CIA; two from the Defense Department; and four from the National Security Agency.

In the years since, some participants in the attack have said they were motivated by the video. The attackers were a mix of extremists and hangers on, the investigation found.

“To this day,” the report said, “significant intelligence gaps regarding the identities, affiliations and motivations of the attackers remain.”

The post House Intelligence Committee investigation debunks many Benghazi theories appeared first on PBS NewsHour.