Recently, I've been hearing bits and pieces regarding some controversy involving the 2012 Benghazi embassy attack

Although It's not hard to find stories about the controversy , I've found it considerably harder to find out exactly what the controversy is starting from the beginning.

  • What is the Benghazi controversy?
  • What about it draws so much coverage?
  • Why is it making such major news now?
  • 3
    There will be many books that will discuss this by the time it ends I think. There fore this question is way to broad for this SE. Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 16:44
  • @Chad Too Broad? It's a question about a scandal revolving around a very specific event. I'd hardly call it too broad. Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 16:47
  • There could and probably will be books written about this very question, what happened, why, what caused the news orgs to ignore then pick up the story... I think that there is already one book either about to be released or that has been released from the security team that went in to clean up after Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 16:48
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    @blip I don't think we have the facts to state what happened but we can state what the scandal is, or rather, why it is scandalous. Commented May 11, 2016 at 22:17
  • 1
    @ThePompitousofLove at best it's a perceived scandal. We know a bit more now than 3 years ago when I left that comment. With hindsight, it was mostly a perceived scandal.
    – user1530
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 0:13

4 Answers 4


On September 11, 2012, There was an attack on the United-States Embassy in Behghazi. 4 people died in this attack.

It was initially believed by the public that this attack was in response to the movie "Innocence of Muslims".

Several days later, It was confirmed to be a terrorist attack that was related to Al Qaeda.

The accusation is that the Obama Administration knew that it was a terrorist attack, and that they initially tried to cover it up. They are also being accused of not reacting strongly enough to the attacks, and not being prepared enough for such attacks.

On May 8 -

Gregory Hicks, Eric Nordstrom, and Mark Thompson testify before the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and were called "whistleblowers" by the committee chairman.

Hicks testified that more assistance from the U.S. military could have been provided, that attempts to send additional forces were told to stand down by another authority, and he was demoted for telling his recollection of events; the Defense Department disputed Hicks' testimony, and the State Department did not respond.

Hicks further stated that since the Libyan government had called the attack a terrorist attack, and the United States did not, complicated the FBI investigation. Thompson testified that a Foreign Emergency Support Team was not sent due to instructions from the State Department, which the State Department said would have taken too long to be effective;

Nordstrom criticized the Accountability Review Board, that it did not look into decisions made by those individuals in higher authority. Furthermore, they testified that their previous attempts to increase security leading up to the attacks were, were denied.

Democrats charged that the Republicans were politicizing the investigation.

House Republicans released a report on the Benghazi attack that was highly critical of the White House and the State Department; the White House dismissed the report, and House Democrats called the report biased.[128]

Among dozens of findings, the report[129] states that:

  • "Senior State Department officials knew that the threat environment in Benghazi was high and that the Benghazi compound was vulnerable and unable to withstand an attack, yet the department continued to systematically withdraw security personnel"
  • The "[Obama] Administration willfully perpetuated a deliberately misleading and incomplete narrative that the attacks evolved from a political demonstration caused by a YouTube video."
  • "... after a White House Deputies Meeting on Saturday, September 15, 2012, the Administration altered the talking points to remove references to the likely participation of Islamic extremists in the attacks. The Administration also removed references to the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya...."
  • "The Administration deflected responsibility by blaming the IC [intelligence community] for the information it communicated to the public in both the talking points and the subsequent narrative it perpetuated."


"2012 Benghazi attack" on Wikipedia

"Timeline of the investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attack" on Wikipedia

  • 1
    Also the fact that four Americans - including the Ambassador which is supposed to be the person representing US in this country - were killed also makes the matter very serious. If the attack were deflected with no casualties I think the matter would get, even with the same alleged failures, less attention.
    – StasM
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 4:10
  • 4
    Also, you may want to add a point that a part of the scandal was the unprecedented act of jailing of the movie producer as part of the government's reactions.
    – user4012
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 15:24
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    Recommend modifying your second line to "The public was initially told that..." Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 16:17
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    @user4012 your comment sounds as if he was arrested for being the movie producer, while he was arrested for violating his parole terms... or are you suggesting that he should have get immunity because he was the producer of such a film? Roman Polansky is interested in that idea and wants to subscribe to your e-letter.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 18:13
  • 1
    @DrunkCynic I was a member of the public at the time, and the reason why I believed it was a protest to the movie, was because there was a notable protest in Egypt around that same time, which really was about the movie. Commented May 12, 2016 at 0:57

What is the Benghazi scandal?

Official statements at the time didn't entirely mesh with what happened. The scandal part is the theory is that there may have been a cover up of some sort.

What about it makes it such a big scandal?

A matter of opinion.

Why is it making such major news now?

Those with the opinion that it's a scandal have been using it as a frequent enough talking point as to keep it in the media spotlight.

  • 3
    that answer hardly answered my question at all. Commented May 13, 2013 at 16:46
  • 2
    @JeremyHolovacs - it's seen as a major proof of a long running administration policy viewpoint and posture (pretending that the real "extremists" are Tea Party and that Jihadism is not an active threat)
    – user4012
    Commented May 13, 2013 at 17:47
  • 3
    @DVK, I would say it's seen that way by a small number of people who seem quite desperate to make that a legitimate talking point when statistically speaking, the current level of Jihadism is not a threat to the average first-worlder. You may make a case that the attack was downplayed by the current administration, I don't think there's anyone who can legitimately argue with you on that; likewise when it became a political liability to be downplaying this the administration reversed course. Attaching something sinister to everyday politics makes mountains out of molehills. Commented May 13, 2013 at 17:56
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    @JeremyHolovacs - statistically speaking, the current level of mass murdering spree is even less of a threat to an average American. Nevertheless, one isolated attack was all the excuse that was necessary to have a bunch of people try to object to the Second Amendment, despite the fact that most of the proposed solutions would not have addressed the incident that was used as the excuse.
    – user4012
    Commented May 13, 2013 at 18:07
  • 1
    @DVK ...agreed 100% on that. That too was blown out of proportion, but since it seems popular the administration is sticking with it. If the president had decided to let cooler heads prevail on that as well perhaps that too would be considered a "scandal"... Commented May 13, 2013 at 18:15

I'm going to give you a very simple, two minute response.

What is the Benghazi scandal?

A US Diplomatic building came under attack by Libyan protesters. Three Americans(including the US Ambassador to Libya) died.

What about it draws so much coverage?

It's a combination of things. The Obama Administration did not handle the situation very well, not claiming it was a really big issue, not using specific terms, etc. But the reason it draws so much coverage is the fact that Media needs drama. Fox News, NBC, etc.

Why is it making such major news now? Various Conservative Representatives and Media Outlets are making a big deal out of the situation. They always have.

  • 3
    -1 - Doesn't describe the situation at all and then dismisses the entire scandal as being nothing more than being some trumped up conspiracy with no evidence to back up that claim. The evidence clearly shows that there are legitimate questions that the white house administration and state department refuse to answer. This refusal to be open and forthcoming by the administration only lends credibility to the idea that there really was some wrong doing here. Otherwise, it would be very easy to make this entire story go away by providing simple answers to simple questions.
    – Dunk
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 13:55
  • 1
    Allegation that US government lied and neglected to protect US embassy for political reasons are way beyond "media needs drama". Whatever is your opinion on the veracity of such allegations, it's not simply media-invented story, there are serious causes for concern and investigation, which are proved by ample evidence.
    – StasM
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 4:06
  • "The evidence clearly shows" = what 'evidence' we have is sparse. The 'scandal' at this time, is more hyperbole than it is fact-based data. Maybe that will change with time. Maybe not.
    – user1530
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 16:34
  • @DA:However, what evidence we do have raises very legitimate questions. The more "evidence" that keeps getting discovered the more legitimate questions that keep arising. Funny how that tends to happen when a coverup is in progress. Openness and honesty tend to quell further questions.
    – Dunk
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 18:44
  • 1
    @Dunk I think it certainly raises valid questions. And they are important questions. But it's important to distinguish between questions being asked and what actually happened. It appears Sam was asking what it is but most of our answers are what some think it may be.
    – user1530
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 18:55

Sorry that I don't have references but here's what I can recall from the various reports I've heard, seen or read.

"What is the Benghazi scandal"

It's that the administration is refusing to disclose what really happened. Who made what decisions and when? They've intimidated state dept./CIA employees into keeping silent. What was removed from the original report before the one that was officially released? Who removed those details? There's just too much evasion (or appearance of evasion) if there really is nothing of interest to be found.

Even if everything done by the WH administration was perfectly valid, the mere fact that the Obama administration doesn't believe there is any obligation to answer to the people/congress is arrogant and deserving of whatever scrutiny is thrown at them. Why would it have been so hard for Hillary to simply state what she did and didn't do on the night in question? Instead, she acted like a spoiled brat who was insulted that congress had the gaul to inquire into finding out what happened on that night. Especially, when it is so obvious that many details were being left out in the official explanation.

Nobody has ever gotten an answer to where was Obama and what did he know while all this was happening. Obama is notorious for his dislike of meetings so he chooses to get his security info via email-like reports instead. Some believe that he got the report but didn't bother reading it, so he didn't even know Benghazi was happening.

"What makes it a big scandal"

One theory is that the WH admin chose to not defend the embassy because the voters seeing terrorist activity at that time might cost Obama some votes. So the WH chose to let people die instead. Although, in fairness it was probably more like they chose to leave people in a dangerous situation and it blew up in their faces when people were actually killed. Was the WH willing to endanger lives for the sake of their election? How high up did this decision go?

Another possibility, from above is how "engaged" in doing his job is Obama really. Did he get the security report? Did he read it? Did he do anything about it?

Another issue is the administration intimidating employees into not talking to congress. You can't have checks and balances if people are intimidated into silence.

"Why is it making major news now"

Because congress finally found a couple of people willing to talk. After their testimony, the WH has now gone on to rev. 4 or 5 of their version of what happened. Sorry, I don't remember which WH official testified after Hicks last week but I remember him saying something like what follows that I believe will become infamous "It is not the State Departments job to ...[ughhh can't remember]". But it was kind of an admission that they knew more than they've already admitted to knowing.

Anyways, while the MSM is trying to sweep this story under the carpet, you can see that there's all kinds of side stories and theories that actually make this quite an interesting investigation. Many of the pundits strongly believe that this story is going to take some big-shot down, but nobody knows who yet.

  • 9
    There's a lot of opinion, wild speculation and bias in this answer.
    – user1530
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 3:40
  • 1
    @DA:I would also add that your answer is also biased. Yours is just done in a passive-aggressive way.
    – Dunk
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 12:32
  • 2
    "It's the theatrics and color that make the story interesting" = I agree totally. And I feel that color punditry is very much part of politics. That said, on StackExchange sites, we're encouraged to not use that model for answers.
    – user1530
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 18:58
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    This answer has alot of claims of fact but no refrerences. It is there for not an answer by SE Standards. Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 16:51
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    @SamIam - Then that is what the question should be but as it stands the question is "what is the scandal..." That is actually a better question than what you originally posed IMO Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 17:07

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