Nightly News   |  January 15, 2014

Benghazi Report Blames State Department

Sixteen months after the terror attack that killed four Americans including a US Ambassador, the Senate Intelligence Committee says the deaths could have been prevented.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening, it was not a household name until a disaster happened. and since then, benghazi has become a lightning rod , a ralliy cry, a highly charged partisan issue. but most of all it was a tragedy, the night 16 months ago on the 9/11 anniversary, when four americans were killed, including our ambassador to libya. it is back in the news tonight because of a scathing report issued by the intelligence committee , saying the deaths could be stopped by better security. and the state department gets most of the blame. it is where we begin tonight with our chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell , in the d.c. news, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian, six months after the terror attack that killed four americans , including our ambassador, the state department has been blamed for warnings and getting adequate security. benghazi, libya, 9/11, 2012 . the month and day alone should have set off alarms but did not. the report says the attacks that killed the four americans , including ambassador chris stevens , were preventible, in fact, hundreds of intelligence reports in prior months had warned that militias and terrorists and affiliate groups had had the capability and intent to strike the u.s. embassy .

>> the intelligence is ample, i had the opportunity to review it myself.

>> reporter: was it the state department that should have ramped up the security with all the warnings, the cia or both?

>> it is the state department that is responsible for the security of our missions in embassies.

>> reporter: the report says the cia increased security at its annex at its diplomatic area , but they did not.

>> they needed more security and personnel, all of that was ignored.

>> reporter: a major new finding, ambassador stevens declined two specific offers for more military support. and the report says the pentagon, whose closest fighter jets were more than five hours away were not prepared to respond to the attacks. committee republicans also issued a blisstering attack on former secretary of state hillary clinton , who last year tried to blunt charges of a cover-up.

>> what difference at this point does it make, it was our job to prevent it from ever happening again, senators.

>> reporter: but the republican committee members blamed clinton, citing at the end of the day she was responsible for the safety of our americans serving in our diplomatic facilities. her failure to do so clearly made the difference in the lives of our four americans and their families. that will be fodder for any presidential campaign.

>> she herself says the buck stops, and she was in charge of the state department at the time.

>> reporter: hillary clinton referred all questions back to the state department which tonight said we are focused on the security of our embassies, and will leave politics to the others.