Benghazi has been a buzzword in American politics for the past several years.
In many ways, this issue is emblematic of the complete and utter distrust between the two major political parties in the US, and a respective desire from both to incite controversy and malign the reputations of key leaders.
Republicans have consistently attempted to use Benghazi to undermine the legitimacy of the Obama administration and derail the presidential ambitions of Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state when the Benghazi attack occurred.
A new report from the House Select Committee on Benghazi, however, clears Clinton of any wrongdoing or culpability regarding the 2012 attacks that ultimately claimed four American lives, the New York Times reports.
In order to understand why this is such a big deal, we need to go back to the beginning.
On September 11, 2012, a US diplomatic outpost was attacked by Islamist militia members in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed, including Chris Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya who was visiting from Tripoli at the time.
It was a terribly tragic event, and certainly not something anyone hopes for.
But this all morphed into a giant controversy when Republicans accused President Obama of withholding military support that could've prevented the loss of American lives.
It didn't help things when Susan Rice, then the US ambassador to the UN, publicly reiterated an initial, but ultimately false, claim from the CIA that an anti-Islam movie had inspired a mob to attack the US diplomatic outpost.
We now know that Islamist militants were responsible for the attack.
Republicans ended up accusing the Obama administration of covering up or playing down what happened in Benghazi in order to make itself look better ahead of the 2012 election.
Subsequent investigations would prove Rice hadn't deliberately lied, but simply regurgitated CIA intelligence that ended up being wrong.
But this didn't make the controversy go away, and it led Rice to decline being considered as the next secretary of state.
It seems what this was all really about from the beginning was the GOP's desire to paint President Obama as weak on terrorism and untrustworthy. As previously noted, it was also meant to be a major blow to Clinton's presidential campaign.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy even essentially (and somewhat accidentally) admitted the entire ordeal was politically motivated. He said,
Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.
There have been a number of official investigations into Benghazi, mostly led by Republicans. None have found any evidence of a deliberate cover-up.
Correspondingly, this new report clears Clinton of any wrongdoing, but still criticizes her and the Obama administration for not doing enough to protect Americans in Benghazi.
Yet, the report also highlights the fact US military assets could not have reached Benghazi in time to save those who were killed, which was proven in previous inquiries.
The report states,
The assets ultimately deployed by the Defense Department in response to the Benghazi attacks were not positioned to arrive before the final lethal attack.
This is a crucial point, because it contradicts the claim the Obama administration willfully withheld military assets.
Long story short, there has been no evidence found that there was a cover-up or that the Obama administration failed to properly respond to the attack.
While this attack did involve Islamist militants, it was largely spontaneous and hard to plan for. It's arguably fair to criticize the restrictive and inefficient nature of bureaucracy for the overall lack of security in a volatile area, but nothing that happened supports the central accusations put forward by Republicans.
But, even though this subject has been thoroughly examined and there's no substantial evidence to support the GOP narrative, it's unlikely to go totally away due to its links to the email controversy Hillary Clinton continues to be embroiled in.
This will not be the last we hear about Benghazi, even though this issue has arguably already wasted American tax dollars and the attention of Congress could be better spent on other matters.