Benghazi may be over, but #Benghazi has a life of its own.
To understand the story of Benghazi, you first have to understand there are two of them.
The first Benghazi is the second-largest city in Libya where in 2012 the United States ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed in an attack on a diplomatic station. The second is #Benghazi, a dumpster fire of conspiracy theories and nakedly political attacks, fanned by right-wing Twitter trolls and fed by the all-too-common conviction that, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, there's a high-level coverup at work.
The conclusive 800-page Benghazi report has finally been issued . It has neither any major revelations nor any further evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton, who has already taken "full responsibility" for the tragedy - now get ready to hear a whole lot more about #Benghazi.
A casual observer would be forgiven for thinking the report was already out there, as this is the eighth congressional panel to explore the attack and in October, Hillary sat for an 11-hour grilling on the matter that yielded so little damning information that it was widely seen as a joke, with committee Republicans artfully carrying out their role as the butt.
But this report was different; this report was put forth by the House Benghazi committee itself, the culmination of a two-year, $7 million (Dh25.74 million) investigation, the upshot of which is that nobody not reached during the attack could have been saved, and further that the administration of US President Barack Obama, while initially misinformed, was not intentionally misleading.
It is, in short, the last word on Benghazi for sometime. But don't expect to stop reading about #Benghazi.
Donald Trump will continue to peddle absurdities, such as the notion that Hillary somehow "slept" through the Benghazi attack. Fox News and others will continue to raise it. Outside groups will continue to file requests for information and Twitter trolls from far and wide will do their worst.
Never mind that America has had more investigations of Benghazi than every high-profile terror attack in recent history combined. Never mind that these investigations have now cost American taxpayers a minimum of $23 million, or that there's not a single select committee to investigate the tens of thousands of Americans killed by gun violence each year. The Benghazi committee's tireless leader, Trey Gowdy, has already taken issue with what appears to be the overwhelming consensus that his report is a dud, insisting that new information in the report "should fundamentally change the way you view what happened in Benghazi".
So far, so bad for Gowdy.
The New York Times headline could hardly have read better for the Hillary camp if it were drafted by her campaign manager. And even the right-wing Drudge Report, which gave a banner headline to Hillary's uneventful testimony on Benghazi this autumn, seems to have lost interest. At the time, the real smoking gun of the hearing from Matt Drudge's perspective was a coughing fit and slow speech, which he claimed at the time was "obvious" evidence she was - horror of horrors - taking anti-anxiety meds.
In all the years and tens of thousands of hours spent investigating the tragedy, the biggest upshot by far has been the revelation that Hillary used a private email server during her time as US secretary of state - a security lapse that was both unwitting and not directly tied to Benghazi in any way. The second biggest upshot is likely the personal misfortune for Kevin McCarthy, who - as a result of his comment suggesting the entire GOP-led Benghazi investigation is a patently political attempt to tar Hillary - is not the House speaker. That is also likely a blessing for McCarthy's party.
If we were going to hear the end of #Benghazi, when all reasonable roads of inquiry had been taken, it would have happened long ago.
Instead, we'll stop hearing about it when Republicans stop trying to undermine Hillary and conspiracy theorists stop their theorising - which is to say, when the sky falls down and the sea runs dry, or in a word: Never.
- Guardian News & Media Ltd
Lucia Graves is a Guardian US columnist. She was previously a staff correspondent for National Journal magazine and a staff reporter at Huffington Post.
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