THE FACT CHECKER | Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said the United States did not investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks “with the length and depth” of Benghazi. This is misleading, and it’s unclear exactly what he means by “depth.”
Smith’s statement appears to be based on an article by the left-leaning Think Progress. It shows there have been eight separate committees and the Accountability Review Board investigating the September 2012 attacks in Benghazi, compared with two fact-finding investigations (a joint congressional investigation and the 9/11 Commission investigation) for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The Think Progress article also showed that congressional committees have held 32 public or private hearings related to Benghazi, compared with 22 on the 2001 attacks. There also was a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the joint committee report findings.
An important caveat: “There were certainly more congressional hearings regarding 9/11 aside from that, but like the committees investigating it, they do not appear to be about investigating the attack itself. Other 9/11-related hearings instead appear to be about policy issues, like how to improve airport security,” the article says.
The congressional committee hearings into the Benghazi attacks have taken place over a longer period of time (May 2013 through the current date) than the 9/11 Commission’s investigation. But this is not an apples-to-apples comparison. Different committees have held hearings throughout that time, while also investigating other issues (i.e., the House Oversight Committee is not only focused on the Benghazi attack).
The 9/11 Commission, on the other hand, was a more concentrated investigation and was given an 18-month period to complete its investigation. The commission ultimately took 20 months, after being granted a two-month investigation.
How about in terms of cost? The House Select Committee on Benghazi’s cost clock currently places the tab at $4.8 million. The 9/11 Commission’s budget totaled $15 million, and it had nearly 80 full-time employees, contractors and employees on staff, according to a CNN fact sheet.
For its approximately 570-page report, the 9/11 Commission took testimony from 160 witnesses — just over three times the number of witnesses the House Select Committee on Benghazi has interviewed so far.
However, there have been more congressional hearings and investigations into the deaths of four Americans in the Benghazi attacks than any other attacks or deaths of American diplomats since 1973, according to the Center for American Progress.