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WASHINGTON - A Republican-led investigation of a 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Libya that killed four Americans ended Tuesday with no new allegations about the actions of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, now the presumptive 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.
Clinton, who monitored the incident as it unfolded on September 11, 2012, told a campaign rally that the House of Representatives investigative panel "found nothing, nothing to contradict" findings about the attack in numerous other earlier investigations.
"It's pretty clear it's time to move on," she said.
The panel's chairman, Congressman Trey Gowdy, said Tuesday, "No U.S. military assets were ever deployed to Benghazi" despite the orders of President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
"Nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost eight hours after the attacks began," Gowdy said in releasing an 800-page report on the attack after a two-year, $7 million investigation.
Military leaders have repeatedly said they did not have intelligence information on what was unfolding in Libya or the resources to respond.
But after release of the report, the Defense Department said that it "has made substantial changes to improve our responsiveness based on lessons learned from this incident."
Two of the committee's Republican members went beyond the overall committee's conclusions, blaming Clinton for misleading the American public about the attack as it was unfolding.
Congressman Jim Jordan said that Clinton publicly cited an anti-Muslim video circulating in the Middle East at the time as the reason for the assault, but that an hour later privately emailed her daughter, Chelsea, that terrorists had launched the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the three others.
In the contentious presidential campaign, some U.S. Republicans have pasted bumper stickers on their cars that say, "Hillary lied, people died." But Gowdy rejected the sentiment, saying, "You don't see that T-shirt on me. You haven't seen that bumper sticker on any of my cars."
Some Republicans, including Donald Trump, the presumptive presidential nominee against Clinton, have blamed her for failing to adequately provide enough security to protect the outpost. There have been at least 10 investigations of the incident, with Clinton testifying publicly for 11 hours about it last October.
Clinton's campaign said Gowdy's investigation had "not found anything to contradict the conclusions of the multiple, earlier investigations."
The minority Democrats on the panel released their own report of the incident on Monday in an effort to rebut the majority's conclusions and protect Clinton's political fortunes less than five months before she expects to face Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul, in November's national presidential election.
The Democrats, in their 344-page report, concluded that the U.S. military, with its nearest support troops across the Mediterranean in Italy, could not have reached Benghazi in time to rescue the diplomats and that Clinton was actively "engaged" in dealing with the attack while it was occurring.
Democratic Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico told VOA he did not think the Republican-led investigation "was an impartial search for facts. I think the American people knew this was political. And I don't really like the way they treated Hillary Clinton for that 11 hours of grilling. I think it left a lot to be desired."
The House Benghazi Committee said the Central Intelligence Agency missed warnings about an imminent attack and then wrote faulty intelligence reports after it.
The U.S. State Department said it provided 50 current and former employees for interviews about the incident and more than 100,000 pages of documents.
As the dueling reports were released, the State Department said, "The essential facts surrounding the 2012 attacks in Benghazi have been known for some time," including information from the other reviews of the incident that occurred two months before the 2012 presidential election in which Obama won a second four-year term.
Republicans have long claimed that U.S. officials initially blamed the attack - erroneously as it turned out - on reaction to an anti-Muslim video circulating in the Mideast at the time to protect Obama's re-election chances rather than admit that a terrorist attack had occurred.
Then, within days, the U.S. acknowledged the assault was a terrorist attack. The alleged ringleader, Ahmed Abu Khattala, is awaiting trial in a U.S. court.
The State Department said it has "made great progress towards making our posts safer since 2012 and has so far implemented 26 of the 29 recommendations made by a review panel.
Source: Voice of America