The Benghazi Investigation Reaches a Dubious Milestone
Policy + Politics

The Benghazi Investigation Reaches a Dubious Milestone

© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Democrats serving on the special committee examining the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, say the panel’s investigation has passed yet another milestone and has now taken longer than the investigation into the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The calendar gives the five Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi, now in existence for 609 days, a new entry to their oft-repeated refrain that the inquiry has lasted longer those into the attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President Kennedy, Iran-Contra and Watergate.

Related: Benghazi Panel Calls in Heavy Hitters to Start 2016

“The Select Committee’s investigation of the Benghazi attacks has been widely condemned as hyper-partisan and ineffective, and it stands in stark contrast to the bipartisan investigation and report issued by the 9/11 Commission,” ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said in a statement.

“Republicans continue to drag out this political charade closer to the 2016 presidential election, and the American taxpayers continue to pay the price,” he added.

Panel Democrats estimate the investigation has cost nearly $5.6 million and counting.

The timing of the critique is no accident. The Benghazi panel will interview former CIA chief David Petraeus behind closed doors and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Friday, also in a classified setting, about the deadly siege that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.

Here are some numbers congressional Democrats crunched:


Comparison: 9/11 Commission Benghazi
Days of Hearings: 19 4
Private Witnesses Interviewed: More than 1,000 62
Public Witnesses Testified: 160 7
Recommendations Issued: 41 0


Comparison: 9/11 Commission Benghazi
Termination Date: Yes, by Law No Limit
Budget Constraints: Yes, by Law No Limit
Repetition: “The purposes of the Commission are to … build upon the investigations of other entities, and avoid unnecessary duplication” Chairman Gowdy: “We may actually wind up answering some of the questions more than once.”
Report: “Ten Commissioners—five Republicans and five Democrats chosen by our elected leaders from our nation’s capital at a time of great partisan division—have come together to present this report without dissent.” Partisan interim report issued without even consulting Democrats.


Comparison: 9/11 Commission Benghazi
Public Perception: Pew Research poll released on July 20, 2004, found that by more than two-to-one (61%- 24%), Americans approve of the job being done by the commission. It also found “no partisan divide in this view ­ as many Republicans (62%) as Democrats (61%) approve of the commission’s performance to date.” CNN/ORC poll released on October 22, 2015, found 72% of all Americans say they see the Benghazi committee as mostly using its investigative mission for political gain. Forty-nine percent of Republicans said the committee is trying to score political points.


Comparison: 9/11 Commission Benghazi
Conclusion: Bipartisan, unanimous, and credible 567-page report issued after 19 months. After 19 months, no final report, and no end in sight. Committee considered highly partisan and lacking credibility.