Clinton defends her handling of Benghazi attack to Senate
ReutersWASHINGTON--U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits down to testify on the September attack on U.S. diplomatic sites in Benghazi, Libya during a hearing held by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday.
January 24, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday defended her handling of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that killed four Americans, an event that threatens to stain her legacy at the State Department.
Clinton cast the incident, the first in which a U.S. ambassador was killed since 1988, as part of a long history of such violence as well as the result of regional instability since the Arab Spring of popular revolutions began in 2011.
Speaking in congressional testimony delayed by more than a month because of her ill health, Clinton offered her first detailed accounting of the first days after the attack, saying she directed the U.S. response from the State Department.
“I take responsibility,” Clinton said, echoing comments she first made in a TV interview on October 15 and stressing that she has accepted all of the recommendations of an independent review panel that ultimately held lower-level officials responsible.
“Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger and more secure,” she added.
The attack could haunt Clinton — who is expected to step down in the coming days once her designated successor, Senator John Kerry, is confirmed by the U.S. Senate — should she decide to run again for president in 2016, a possibility she has played down.
Militants attacked and overwhelmed the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 in a sustained assault that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
The official inquiry concluded that the State Department was completely unprepared to deal with the attack, citing “leadership and management” deficiencies, poor coordination and unclear lines of authority in Washington. The inquiry did not find Clinton personally at fault.
Clinton said she never saw the requests for additional security for the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, which was attacked in September, because they were handled by other State Department officials and normally would not reach her level.
Clinton was testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the September attack in Benghazi by Islamist militants in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed. Her testimony had been delayed for health reasons.