Benghazi is just the latest long, pricey government probe

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
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)
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)
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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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