Benghazi is just the latest long, pricey government probe

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Benghazi Is Just the Latest Long, Pricey Government Probe

The House Select Committee on Benghazi has been running for one year and five months and has spent about $4.6 million investigating the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. While that is a lot, its not nearly as much as some other notable political probes.

SEE MORE:Here's what happened at the embassy in Benghazi

Let's start with maybe the most famous — the Watergate Committee. Created to probe President Richard Nixon's cover-up of the Watergate hotel break-ins, the committee's hearings became something of a national spectacle thanks to continuous TV coverage.

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Benghazi is just the latest long, pricey government probe
FILE - In this March 15, 1973, file photo President Nixon tells a White House news conference that he will not allow his legal counsel, John Dean, to testify on Capitol Hill in the Watergate investigation and challenged the Senate to test him in the Supreme Court. A feisty Nixon defended his shredded legacy and Watergate-era actions in grand jury testimony that he thought would never come out. On Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011, it did. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi, File)
Newsmen wait in line outside the White House press office Tuesday, April 30, 1974 for their copies of the transcript of White House tapes. One of the large volumes is shown being passed over reporters hands. (AP Photo/John Duricka)
H.R. Haldeman, who has recently resigned as White House Chief of Staff, speaks briefly with newsmen as he leaves his more for a drive to the White House, May 3, 1973. Haldeman and another presidential aide, John D. Ehrlichman, who has also resigned, is expected to meet with the prosecutor of the Watergate case and with Senate investigators later in the day. (AP Photo/Charles Harrity)
Washington Post writers Carl Bernstein, left, and Robert Woodward, who pressed the Watergate investigation, are photographed in Washington, D.C., May 7, 1973. It was announced that The Post won the Pulitzer Prize for public service for its stories about the Watergate scandal. (AP Photo)
White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan walks past reporters after he returned to the White House from his trip with President Reagan to Santa Barbara, Calif., Nov. 30, 1986. Regan and the president came back to Washington to the growing crisis over the arms sales to Iran and money transfers to Nicaraguan rebels. (AP Photo/Ira Schwarz)
Special commission chairman, former Senator John Tower, R-Texas, flanked by former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, left, and former senator and Secretary of State Edmund Muskie, right, answers reporters' questions at the White House, Dec. 2, 1986. The commission was established by President Reagan to investigate National Security Council staff operations. (AP Photo/Barry Thumma)
Howard Teicher, director of political-military affairs for the National Security Council, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 16, 1986 after testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee about the Iran-Contra connection. The White House announced on Tuesday that Teicher is resigning effective in March. (AP Photo/Scott Stewart)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 29: In this 29 July 1998 file photo, Linda Tripp talks to reporters outside of the Federal Courthouse 29 July 1998 in Washington, DC, following her eighth day of testimony before the grand jury investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair. Tripp's taped conversations with Lewinsky triggered the sex-and-lies probe dogging US President Bill Clinton. Tripp was fired from her Pentagon job 19 January 2001 after she refused to resign like other political appointees. (Photo credit should read WILLIAM PHILPOTT/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, : US President Bill Clinton listens to a question about the Monica Lewinsky affair 16 September during a press conference with Czech President Vaclav Havel at the State Department in Washington, DC. Clinton defended his leadership in international affairs despite the probe into his affair with a former subordinate at the White House. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO Stephen JAFFE (Photo credit should read STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky leaves the family home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, May 26, 1998. Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr has requested handwriting and voice samples as well as fingerprints from Lewinsky. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Commissioner Timothy Roemer of the 9-11 Commission gestures during the last two-day public hearing on the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Witnesses are sworn in before the start of the last two-day public hearing of the 9-11 Commission on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 in Washington. Seated at the table from left are Commissioner Jamie Gorelick, Commission Chariman Thomas Kean, and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 30: President George W. Bush speaks in the press room of the White House on March 30, 2004. He announced that National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice will testify before the 911 commission in an open session, something the administration had previously opposed. The independent commission, created by an act of Congress, has until July 26 to report on U.S. intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks. (Photo by Dennis Brack/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The committee managed to extract key testimonies from several witnesses, including White House counsel John Dean III and Nixon's deputy assistant Alexander Butterfield. Of course, it eventually prompted Nixon to resign, though he was pardoned of all wrongdoing by his successor, Gerald Ford.

Another big televised spectacle, the investigations into the Iran-Contra affair were taken up jointly by special House and Senate committees. Over 41 days of televised hearings, key players in the scandal offered dramatic testimony about the covert arrangement to sell weapons to Iran and funnel the proceeds to Nicaragua's Contra rebels.

SEE MORE: Why you keep seeing Hillary Clinton and Benghazi together

The joint hearings shed plenty of light on the scandal but produced few concrete results. The final report was undercut by a dissenting minority report from some Republican committee members, and most of the convictions associated with the scandal were eventually overturned, vacated or pardoned.

The investigation that almost cost Bill Clinton the presidency originated not in Congress, but from the Justice Department — and it cost about 10 times as much as the Benghazi probe. Independent counsel Kenneth Starr's original investigation of the Whitewater land deal morphed into a broader probe of Clinton's alleged wrongdoings — most famously, his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Starr's report formed the groundwork for Clinton's impeachment in the House. Though he was later acquitted of those charges by the Senate, the scandal continues to dog his career.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Congress commissioned an independent bi-partisan committee to investigate the circumstances that lead up to the attacks. Led by former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, the commission poured through millions of pages of documents and interviewed survivors and high-level officials.

The commission's report provided the definitive account of the attacks and also placed some amount of blame on the FBI and CIA for failing to anticipate the hijackings. The report's recommendations have also influenced the federal government's post-9/11 security reforms.

More coverage related to Clinton testifying on Benghazi:
Breaking down Benghazi: Here's what happened at the embassy
Why you keep seeing Hillary Clinton and Benghazi together
Benghazi is just the latest long, pricey government probe

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