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Washington - Feisty Clinton: US Strengthening Embassy Security

Published on: January 23, 2013 11:55 AM
By: AP
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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Washington - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, at times emotional and fierce, insisted on Wednesday that the department is moving swiftly and aggressively to strengthen security at U.S. missions worldwide after the deadly Sept. 11 raid on the consulate in Libya.

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In her last formal congressional testimony on Capitol Hill as America’s top diplomat, Clinton once again took full responsibility for the department’s missteps leading up to assault at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Her voice cracking at one point, Clinton said the experience was highly personal.

“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,” she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a jam-packed hearing.

Her voice rising at another point, she defended U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who was vilified for widely debunked claims five days after the attack that protests precipitated the raid rather than terrorism. She challenged the GOP focus on Rice’s comments, which were based on intelligence talking points.

“The fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest? Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?” said a clearly exasperated Clinton told Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. “It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator.”

She insisted that “people were trying in real time to get to the best information,” and that her focus was on looking ahead on how to improve security rather than revisiting the talking points and Rice’s television appearance.

Clinton said the department is implementing the 29 recommendations of an independent review board that harshly criticized the department as well as going above and beyond the proposals, with a special focus on high-threat posts.

The review board report faulted “systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department” and four employees were put on administrative leave.

“Nobody is more committed to getting this right,” she said. “I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure.”

Three weeks after her release from a New York hospital, Clinton was at times defiant, complimentary and willing to chastise lawmakers. She will appear before the committee on Thursday to introduce her likely successor, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

Clinton refused to back down from withering GOP criticism of the Obama administration’s shifting explanations about the assault.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a Clinton friend in the Senate, offered praise along with complaints.

“It’s wonderful to see you in good health and combative as ever,” McCain told a visibly slimmer Clinton, whose planned testimony last month was delayed because of her illness.

In the same breath, he dismissed her explanation of events, the administration’s response to warning about the deteriorating security situation in Libya and even the attention paid to Libya after rebels toppled strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

For her part, Clinton complained about the congressional holds placed on foreign aid and bilateral assistance. “We have to get our act together,” she told the panel.

Her testimony focused not only on the attack but the growing threat from extremists in northern Africa, pointing out that Libya was not an isolated incident.

“The Arab revolutions have scrambled power dynamics and shattered security forces across the region,” she said. “And instability in Mali has created an expanding safe haven for terrorists who look to extend their influence and plot further attacks of the kind we saw just last week in Algeria.”

She said the Obama administration is pressing for a greater understanding of the hostage-taking there and rescue effort that left three Americans dead.

Clinton parried tough questions from Republicans, offering a detailed timeline of events on Sept. 11 and the Obama administration efforts to aid the Americans in Libya while simultaneously dealing with protests in Cairo and other countries.

GOP lawmakers repeatedly questioned Clinton about whether she had seen earlier requests for beefed-up security.

“I did not see these requests. They did not come to me. I did not approve them. I did not deny them,” she said.

She took House Republicans to task for recently stripping $1 billion in security aid from the hurricane relief bill and the Senate panel for failing for years to produce an authorization bill.

In something of a valedictory, Clinton noted her robust itinerary in four years and her work, nearly 1 million miles and 112 countries.

“My faith in our country and our future is stronger than ever. Every time that blue and white airplane carrying the words “United States of America” touches down in some far-off capital, I feel again the honor it is to represent the world’s indispensable nation. And I am confident that, with your help, we will continue to keep the United States safe, strong, and exceptional.”

Clinton is the sole witness at back-to-back hearings before the Senate and House foreign policy panels on the September raid.

Clinton had been scheduled to testify before Congress last month, but an illness, a concussion and a blood clot near her brain forced her to postpone her appearance.

Absent from the hearing was Kerry, the man tapped to succeed Clinton. His swift Senate confirmation is widely expected, with his confirmation hearing scheduled for Thursday. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the incoming chairman, presided over the hearing.

Clinton’s testimony was focusing on the Libya attack after more than three months of Republican charges that the Obama administration ignored signs of a deteriorating security situation there and cast an act of terrorism as mere protests over an anti-Muslim video in the heat of a presidential election. Washington officials suspect that militants linked to al-Qaida carried out the attack.

Politics play an outsized role in any appearance by Clinton, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 and is the subject of constant speculation about a possible bid in 2016. The former first lady and New York senator — a polarizing figure dogged by controversy — is about to end her four-year tenure at the State Department with high favorable ratings.

A poll early last month by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found 65 percent of Americans held a favorable impression of Clinton, compared with 29 percent unfavorable.

On the panel at the hearing were two possible 2016 Republican presidential candidates — Florida’s Marco Rubio and Kentucky’s Rand Paul, a new member of the committee.

Clinton did little to quiet the presidential chatter earlier this month when she returned to work at the State Department after her illness. On the subject of retirement, she said, “I don’t know if that is a word I would use, but certainly stepping off the very fast track for a little while.”


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1

 Jan 23, 2013 at 12:15 PM Anonymous Says:

“I did not see these requests. They did not come to me. I did not approve them. I did not deny them,” she said.
baloney 3x. She said she was in charge but she does not know. obama does not know: who the hell knows. We were lied to from day `1 in order to get the There was reports that ambassador requested back up; but nobody knows who he requested it from. Maybe is was the janitor in the White House since he must have the power or otherwise he would not have received the request. Who got the request???????? and when?????
If Nixon was in charged he would have been impeached

2

 Jan 23, 2013 at 12:47 PM Historian Says:

To show the hypocrisy which the Republican Senators are exhibiting towards Hillary Clinton, consider what happened in 1983, when Ronald Reagan was President. A terrorist/suicide bomber armed with deadly explosives, drove past a Marine guard (it was later determined that his weapon was not loaded), into a Marine barracks near Beirut, and killed 241 U.S. Marines. Nobody was held accountable at the time, for that breach of security. The latter incident was covered up from top to bottom. There was no scrutiny by the Democrats or Republicans of the Secretary of Defense, C.I.A., or the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for that failure of intelligence. However, when the shoe is on the other foot, I guess that different standards apply.

3

 Jan 23, 2013 at 01:16 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Historian Says:

To show the hypocrisy which the Republican Senators are exhibiting towards Hillary Clinton, consider what happened in 1983, when Ronald Reagan was President. A terrorist/suicide bomber armed with deadly explosives, drove past a Marine guard (it was later determined that his weapon was not loaded), into a Marine barracks near Beirut, and killed 241 U.S. Marines. Nobody was held accountable at the time, for that breach of security. The latter incident was covered up from top to bottom. There was no scrutiny by the Democrats or Republicans of the Secretary of Defense, C.I.A., or the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for that failure of intelligence. However, when the shoe is on the other foot, I guess that different standards apply.

you have to go back to 1983 to stick up for hillary
face it she is not the smartest women in the room, she dropped the ball and should be held for it

4

 Jan 23, 2013 at 01:24 PM savtat Says:

To number 2 - your point is well taken - however that was years before the internet. It is very difficult to cover anything up completely at this time in history. I do believe that there is reluctance on the part of the US to acknowledge any act of terror connected to 9/11. One would have thought that an embassy in such a dangerous part of the world would have been very well protected. It gives you pause, when the state department lectures Israel about what is safe.

5

 Jan 23, 2013 at 01:31 PM Kzler Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

“I did not see these requests. They did not come to me. I did not approve them. I did not deny them,” she said.
baloney 3x. She said she was in charge but she does not know. obama does not know: who the hell knows. We were lied to from day `1 in order to get the There was reports that ambassador requested back up; but nobody knows who he requested it from. Maybe is was the janitor in the White House since he must have the power or otherwise he would not have received the request. Who got the request???????? and when?????
If Nixon was in charged he would have been impeached

Why don't you press your tea baggie for an impeachment resolution

6

 Jan 23, 2013 at 01:41 PM Kzler Says:

Reply to #2  
Historian Says:

To show the hypocrisy which the Republican Senators are exhibiting towards Hillary Clinton, consider what happened in 1983, when Ronald Reagan was President. A terrorist/suicide bomber armed with deadly explosives, drove past a Marine guard (it was later determined that his weapon was not loaded), into a Marine barracks near Beirut, and killed 241 U.S. Marines. Nobody was held accountable at the time, for that breach of security. The latter incident was covered up from top to bottom. There was no scrutiny by the Democrats or Republicans of the Secretary of Defense, C.I.A., or the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for that failure of intelligence. However, when the shoe is on the other foot, I guess that different standards apply.

President Reagn simply said "I forgot" as with many other facts.

7

 Jan 23, 2013 at 01:44 PM Anon Ibid Opcit Says:

The first thing she has to do is get Congress to restore the $300,000,000 the Republicans tore out of embassy security appropriations before the attack

8

 Jan 23, 2013 at 03:34 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

“I did not see these requests. They did not come to me. I did not approve them. I did not deny them,” she said.
baloney 3x. She said she was in charge but she does not know. obama does not know: who the hell knows. We were lied to from day `1 in order to get the There was reports that ambassador requested back up; but nobody knows who he requested it from. Maybe is was the janitor in the White House since he must have the power or otherwise he would not have received the request. Who got the request???????? and when?????
If Nixon was in charged he would have been impeached

Your posting is really funny....your hatred of the Clintons is consuming you and that makes the rest of us feel good that with leaders like the Clintons, President Obama and other progressive Democrats, the country is in strong hands. Watching Senators like McCain this morning accusing her of complicity in the deaths of the Ambassador and the other 3 heroes in Libya while he and Bush lied us into a war about non-existant WMDs and where thousands of Americans needlessly died is all we need to know.

9

 Jan 23, 2013 at 04:31 PM The-Logician Says:

Classic best defense is good offense. Obama used the same tactic when it came up in the debate. Act all emotional and outraged about how you are being accused, and you are the one who worries about it... yada yada yada.

This was a scandal, is a scandal and will remain a scandal, regardless of how loud she huffs and puffs.

The underlying story is that Obama's posture of trying to be peeaaceful and nooon-agressive, is what led the state dept to leave their diplomats in such a vulnerable situation. Then they failed to get agressive about sending reinforcements, and finally, they lied to the American People about it.

10

 Jan 23, 2013 at 07:32 PM kzler Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

“I did not see these requests. They did not come to me. I did not approve them. I did not deny them,” she said.
baloney 3x. She said she was in charge but she does not know. obama does not know: who the hell knows. We were lied to from day `1 in order to get the There was reports that ambassador requested back up; but nobody knows who he requested it from. Maybe is was the janitor in the White House since he must have the power or otherwise he would not have received the request. Who got the request???????? and when?????
If Nixon was in charged he would have been impeached

You sound like a state de[partment employee. Where are you employed?

11

 Jan 23, 2013 at 07:34 PM Kzler Says:

Reply to #9  
The-Logician Says:

Classic best defense is good offense. Obama used the same tactic when it came up in the debate. Act all emotional and outraged about how you are being accused, and you are the one who worries about it... yada yada yada.

This was a scandal, is a scandal and will remain a scandal, regardless of how loud she huffs and puffs.

The underlying story is that Obama's posture of trying to be peeaaceful and nooon-agressive, is what led the state dept to leave their diplomats in such a vulnerable situation. Then they failed to get agressive about sending reinforcements, and finally, they lied to the American People about it.

Yada,Yada the same malarkey. We don't fresh entanglement and of course he must watch our budget and they did at the cost of the lives of diplomats

12

 Jan 23, 2013 at 08:37 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Historian Says:

To show the hypocrisy which the Republican Senators are exhibiting towards Hillary Clinton, consider what happened in 1983, when Ronald Reagan was President. A terrorist/suicide bomber armed with deadly explosives, drove past a Marine guard (it was later determined that his weapon was not loaded), into a Marine barracks near Beirut, and killed 241 U.S. Marines. Nobody was held accountable at the time, for that breach of security. The latter incident was covered up from top to bottom. There was no scrutiny by the Democrats or Republicans of the Secretary of Defense, C.I.A., or the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for that failure of intelligence. However, when the shoe is on the other foot, I guess that different standards apply.

This is a completely different issue. That was an unpredictable terrorist attack that can happen any time, anywhere.(Chas V'shalom) Now we are talking about denying additional security that was requested by the embassy, and then giving false statements on all the talk shows that the attack was a "spontaneous demonstration" in protest of a stupid video. Outrageous!!!

13

 Jan 23, 2013 at 09:00 PM Against Hypocritical politicians Says:

I agree 100% with #8; where is the hand wringing over the thousands of Americans who were killed and maimed in Iraq, over a no win war. Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11/01; even after Saddam Hussein was captured and executed, any discussion of a withdrawal of U.S. troops was considered too controversial. It was the Iraqi's who (rightly so) insisted that the USA withdraw by 12/31/2011. In spite of that agreement, there were politicians who never served one day in uniform, who tried to pressure the Iraqis to change their minds. Now, these same phony politicians are trying to hold Hillary Clinton to a higher standard. What hypocrisy! Their attitude is beyond contempt!

14

 Jan 23, 2013 at 09:29 PM Kzler Says:

Reply to #9  
The-Logician Says:

Classic best defense is good offense. Obama used the same tactic when it came up in the debate. Act all emotional and outraged about how you are being accused, and you are the one who worries about it... yada yada yada.

This was a scandal, is a scandal and will remain a scandal, regardless of how loud she huffs and puffs.

The underlying story is that Obama's posture of trying to be peeaaceful and nooon-agressive, is what led the state dept to leave their diplomats in such a vulnerable situation. Then they failed to get agressive about sending reinforcements, and finally, they lied to the American People about it.

Logician without logic this is chicken stuff. 9/11 had here Arab students whose visa had expired and the went to a domestic flight school where they learned how to fly an airplane and successfully exploded the plane in the World Tower. The FBI and police department being on different airwave could not communicate in 9/11. President Reagan failed to secure the Embassy in Beirut with a tremendous loss of life. Your huffing, puffing and screeching yada yada is not logic

15

 Jan 23, 2013 at 11:05 PM Phineas Says:

Reply to #2  
Historian Says:

To show the hypocrisy which the Republican Senators are exhibiting towards Hillary Clinton, consider what happened in 1983, when Ronald Reagan was President. A terrorist/suicide bomber armed with deadly explosives, drove past a Marine guard (it was later determined that his weapon was not loaded), into a Marine barracks near Beirut, and killed 241 U.S. Marines. Nobody was held accountable at the time, for that breach of security. The latter incident was covered up from top to bottom. There was no scrutiny by the Democrats or Republicans of the Secretary of Defense, C.I.A., or the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for that failure of intelligence. However, when the shoe is on the other foot, I guess that different standards apply.

I like Hillary but 1983 was a era in this nation's history. Not fair to hold today's Republicans accountable for 1983 Republican action or inaction.

16

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