Hillary Clinton testifies on Benghazi attack
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faces some intense grilling on Capitol Hill as she gives her long-awaited testimony on the deadly terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya last September.
Republicans have charged that the Obama administration falsely claimed that the attack occurred as part a spontaneous protest and not as a planned event.
After a fall, a concussion and a blood clot that delayed the hearing, Clinton is facing questions Republicans have wanted to ask for months:
What did she know about security failures in Benghazi?
Did she know her diplomats had requested more protection - requests her aides had rejected?
Had she seen a final cable for help from Ambassador Chris Stevens - sent to her on September 11th - the day of the assault that killed him and three other Americans?
When questioned by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) who asked why the State Department didn't speak to the U.S. diplomatic staff evacuated after the attack, she responded, "Senator, when you're in these positions, the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process going on."
Clinton said that the State Dept. was waiting for the FBI to conduct interviews.
When Johnson said that was a "good excuse," Clinton countered, "Well, no, it's the fact. Even today, there are questions being raised. We have no doubt they were terrorists, they were militants, they attacked us, they killed our people. But what was going on, and why they were doing what they were doing, is still, is still unknown."
Clinton also said that the Obama administration did not mislead the public.
"With all due respect, 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? It our job is to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this. The fact is that people were trying, in real time, to get to the best information."
UN Ambassador Susan Rice told Meet the Press on Sept. 16th that the attackers were likely protesters, not terrorists.
"What happened in Benghazi was in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo," said Rice at the time.
Rice was relying on CIA talking points that proved to be wrong, derailing her chances of becoming Secretary of State.
Former security officers from Benghazi told Congress repeated requests for help had been turned down.
"It was abundantly clear we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident," said Eric Nordstrom, former regional security officer.
But Clinton's sudden illness prevented her from testifying, leaving unanswered a scathing report from an independent review board:
"The security posture at the Special Mission compound was inadequate for the threat environment in Benghazi, and in fact, grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place that night," said Adm. Mike Mullen (ret.), former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman.