Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, voiced displeasure on the Senate floor Thursday that no one — neither members of the State Department nor the attackers themselves — have been held accountable for attacks on two outposts in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, in 2012.
Ayotte’s remarks came after the release Wednesday of a long-delayed Senate Intelligence Committee report that faulted both the State Department and the intelligence community for not preventing the attacks.
“No one has been held accountable,” said Ayotte. “Who’s been held accountable for the failures? And if you look at this intel report, it’s very clear that the intelligence community, according to this report, provided ample strategic warning that our people in Benghazi were at risk. There were failures, and no one has been held accountable. Why?”
The bipartisan report detailed more than a dozen findings regarding the assaults on a diplomatic compound and a CIA annex in the city. It said the State Department failed to increase security at its mission despite warnings, and blamed intelligence agencies for not sharing information about the existence of the CIA outpost with the U.S. military.
Calling the deaths “preventable,” the bipartisan report said that in the three months leading up to the attacks U.S. intelligence agencies offered hundreds of briefings and documents on the increasingly dangerous security situation in Libya, and that the CIA even took steps to beef up security at its so-called annex in the restive eastern Libyan city.
On page 40 the report states, “Individuals affiliated with terrorist groups, including AQIM (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), Ansar al-Sharia, AQAP (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), and the Mohammed Jamal Network, participated in the September 11, 2012, attacks.” The report also highlights the fact that, “More than a year after the Benghazi attacks, the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks have still not been brought to justice.” On Thursday, Ayotte decried the fact that no one has been apprehended in connection with the attack.
“The President stood, I believe it was on Sept. 12, and said we will find out who did this, and we will bring them to justice,” said Ayotte. “To those families, to those victims, no one has been brought to justice. You have a former commander of Ansar al Sharia sitting in cafes in Libya giving press interviews, and yet no one has been brought to justice. Why is that?”
The bipartisan report states on page 9, “In the months before the attacks on September 11, 2012, the IC (intelligence community) provided ample strategic warning that the security situation in eastern Libya was deteriorating and that U.S. facilities and personnel were at risk in Benghazi. The State Department should have increased its security posture more significantly in Benghazi based on the deteriorating security situation on the ground and IC threat reporting on the prior attacks against Westerners in Benghazi—including two incidents at the Temporary Mission Facility on April 6 and June 6, 2012.”
“The warnings were there,” said Ayotte on Thursday. “The warnings were there from the August 16 cable that came from the embassy from Ambassador Stevens, saying that the consulate would not withstand a coordinated attack, warnings that were ignored.”
Ayotte was joined on the Senate floor Thursday by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.