Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Secretary Clinton sets the record straight on Benghazi (video)

One can no longer be surprised by the extremes Hillary Clinton's foes will go to in their attempts to disparage her outstanding service as secretary of state.

Nor should we be surprised at how ably and emphatically the secretary responds to her critics (watch video below).

Kate Norcera at Politico reports:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took responsibility for the attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning.

(PHOTOS: 10 quotes about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi)

She visibly choked up as she spoke of the four dead Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died in the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack.

“For me, this is not just a matter of policy… it’s personal,” she said. “I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters.”

In her opening statement, Clinton also reiterated that she took responsibility for the attack.
“As I have said many times since September 11, I take responsibility. Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure,” Clinton said.

(PHOTOS: 10 slams on Obama and Benghazi)

“Taking responsibility meant moving quickly in those first uncertain hours and days to respond to the immediate crisis and further protect our people and posts in high-threat areas across the region and the world. It meant launching an independent investigation to determine exactly what happened in Benghazi and to recommend steps for improvement. And it meant intensifying our efforts to combat terrorism and support emerging democracies in North Africa and beyond.”

Clinton said that immediately after the attack she “stayed in close contact” with officials both here and in Libya.
Clinton answered sometimes pointed questions from senators on the timing of the attack, new threats in Northern Africa, and funding for security in embassies around the world.

Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) questioned Clinton’s role in coming up with talking points used by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and why administration officials initially characterized the assault as spontaneous rather than deliberate.

Clinton said she was not involved in the selection of Rice to speak on the Sunday talk shows. She added that it was clear to her, as she said the day after the attacks, that “heavily armed militants assaulted our compound.” But with several simultaneous protests happening around the world, it was difficult to understand the exactly why the attack occurred.

“I personally was not focused on talking points, I was focused on keeping our people safe,” she said.

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