Fire Alarm: The Investigation of the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi is a study of legislative-executive friction, partisanship, and Congress's attempt to recount events surrounding the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans. Using publicly available sources, Bradley F. Podliska details the history of congressional investigations, arguing that both Republicans and Democrats use taxpayer-funded investigations as an arena to mount political attacks for electoral advantage regardless of the consequences. He traces the events of September 11, 2012, and applies a new partisan model to frame the role of Speakers of the House John Boehner and Paul Ryan in investigating the Obama administration’s attack response and post-attack narrative. Employing qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze the divisive investigation, Podliska finds Speaker Boehner’s selection of party loyalists for the committee, placement of vetted staff in crucial investigative assignments to ensure execution of party strategy, and over emphasis on former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, minimized the examination of White House, Department of Defense, and Intelligence Community responses. As a result, the investigation failed to determine responsibility for U.S. policy in Libya, an accurate post-attack narrative, and why the military did not perform a timely rescue.
Bradley F. Podliska is former investigator for the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi.
List of Figures
List of Tables
Chapter 1: Benghazi Attack and Obama Administration Response
Chapter 2: Congressional Investigations
Chapter 3: Benghazi Committee Investigation
Chapter 4: Political Costs of the Benghazi Committee Investigation
Appendix A: Benghazi Committee Witness Interviews by Phase
About the Author
Bradley Podliska knows the Benghazi attack, response, and investigation, and his account clearly shows that partisan Republican investigations into Benghazi missed game-changing details. From the Obama administration’s failed response to the attack, to the lies it told in the aftermath, to the poorly run investigations, both Democratic and Republican parties have major faults, and the families of the four murdered Americans deserve better.
In Fire Alarm, Bradley Podliska makes a useful contribution to the literature on political polarization and its consequences for governing. He shows how the House Benghazi Committee focused its investigation on gaining political advantage and damaging the reputation of Hillary Clinton. In the process, it deflected attention from more promising lines of inquiry and failed to determine responsibility for the U.S. response to the terrorist attack.
Bradley Podliska has written a searching, deeply relevant and devastating examination of the flawed manner in which the Congress conducts investigations, centered around the highly controversial Benghazi Committee. Podliska's analysis reveals much that is useful not only about the specifics of the Benghazi attack, but more importantly, about the way partisanship impedes and even blocks our government from functioning effectively. His discussion of the military failures in response to the attacks should be especially interesting to students of military planning and civil-military affairs. An outstanding book which deserves wide readership!
A remarkable book that provides a riveting account of the Benghazi attack and its short- and long-term consequences for U.S. politics while simultaneously using the tools of political science to understand the relationship between Congressional oversight and partisanship. Podliska's book will be highly interesting and relevant to a broad range of readers who seek to understand the sad state of American politics today and how this is related to the political witch hunt that took place after an attack on a far-flung U.S. diplomatic outpost a decade ago.
Podliska provides a detailed look at the events of the terrorist attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, as well as a timeline of responses from the White House,State Department, Pentagon, and CIA. He convincingly portrays how the executive branch was lax in providing guidance to military officials, resulting in a delayed, unfocused military response. Ultimately, a military response did not occur for twenty-three hours due to distance, time, coordination, and unclear chains of authority. The lack of clarity regarding whether the Benghazi attack was a protest that escalated out of control or a planned, armed mission specifically against the compound, led to public comments supporting the former story with lacking evidence.