Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her account of the Sept. 11, 2012 events that occurred in Benghazi, Libya at official congressional hearings held Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
At the hearings, Clinton took full responsibility for the attacks, which resulted in four American deaths, including Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Stevens was the first U.S. ambassador killed
while serving his country since 1979.
The hearings covered many topics, including security objectives, finances to be arranged for the security objectives and the attacks themselves.
“For me, this is not just a matter of policy, it’s personal,” Clinton said at the hearings. “I stood next to President [Barack] Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at St. Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters and the wives left alone to raise their children.”
Clinton also mentioned the patriotism of the American people.
“When we suffer overseas tragedies, as we have, the number of Americans applying to the Foreign Service actually increases. That tells us everything we need to know about what kind of patriots I’m talking about,” Clinton said.
Towards the end of the hearings, Sen. Ron Johnson, a tea party-backed Republican from Wisconsin, openly challenged Clinton about how the American people were misinformed.
“We were misled that there were supposedly protests and something sprang out of that—an assault sprang out of that,” Johnson said. “It was easily ascertained that this was not the fact, and the American people could have known that within days.”
Clinton was quick to reply.
“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” Clinton said. “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys who were out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”
“It’s our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again,” she said. “I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger and more secure.”
Sen. Rand Paul accused Clinton of not reading messages she had received from Stevens.
“Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it’s inexcusable,” Paul said to Clinton.
“I would think that by anybody’s estimation, Libya has to have been one of the hottest of hot spots around the world,” he said. “To not know about the request for security really, I think, cost these people their lives.”
Clinton said, “I believe in taking responsibility, and I have done so, and I hope that we’re going to be able to see a good working relationship between the State Department and the [Primary Health and Aging] Committee.”
Clinton, now 65, has had a very recent history of health problems, including being hospitalized for a blood clot near her brain earlier this month. She also recently fainted and hit her head, resulting in a concussion.
As a result, this was to be her last congressional meeting as secretary of state. John Kerry, former senator from Massachusetts, is the current nominee to take the post for Obama’s second term.
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