Hillary Clinton: ‘I Take Responsibility’ for Benghazi Security Lapse

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Karel Navarro / AP

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a speech after a meeting with Peru's President Ollanta Humala in Lima on Oct. 15, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said late on Monday that the buck stops with her when it comes to diplomatic security, not the White House.

“I take responsibility” for what happened on Sept. 11 in Benghazi, Clinton told CNN’s Elise Labott, referring to the attack that left Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead. Clinton said neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden was involved in security decisions. “I’m responsible for diplomats,” she added.

Clinton’s comments came five days after State Department officials testified in a hearing on Capitol Hill that the Benghazi attack was unrelated to protests that day over a California-made movie that mocked the Prophet Muhammad and that it had, indeed, been the work of terrorists.

(MORE: The Benghazi Attack: A Bigger Question Missed by All the Finger-Pointing)

In the first days after the attack, Administration officials, including U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, said the attack had been part of protests that swept the Middle East. The reversal left the Administration open to criticism that it had, at worst, tried to cover up a terrorist incident or, at best, fumbled its initial response to the violence.

At the vice-presidential debate last Thursday, GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan accused Vice President Joe Biden and the Obama Administration of ignoring requests from Benghazi for extra security. Biden responded by saying, “We did not know” about the requests. Clinton on Monday reaffirmed Biden’s statement, saying the White House was not involved in funding decisions for embassy security.

Clinton also called conflicting statements in the days following the attack “confusion” and “fog of war” that always follow such events. She described an “intense, long ordeal” for State Department staffers struggling to piece together what happened.

As my colleague Michael Crowley noted on Monday, the GOP is much keener to attack Obama and Biden, who are on the ticket in November, than the Secretary of State herself. Clinton is one of the most popular figures in the country right now, and slinging mud at a woman wouldn’t help Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as he fights to make headway with female voters.

(MORE: House Republicans Go After the Obama Administration over Benghazi Attack)

Clinton’s statement, a day before Obama and Romney are scheduled for round two in the presidential debates, frees the President up to lay blame on the State Department for the breach of security and on the Republicans for leading the charge to cut some $500 million for embassy security in recent years. It also deprives Romney of his most persuasive argument yet that the Commander in Chief who ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden is in fact weak on security. Republicans in recent weeks have pointed to Benghazi as evidence of the Middle East “unraveling” under Obama’s watch. And polls show Obama’s job-approval rating on foreign policy issues has fallen from a double-digit spread between approve and disapprove over the summer to within the margin of error since the attack.

(PHOTOS: Political Pictures of the Week, Oct. 5–11)

Republicans on Monday night were quick to dismiss Clinton’s comments. “We must remember that the events of Sept. 11 were preceded by an escalating pattern of attacks this year in Benghazi, including a bomb that was thrown into our consulate in April, another explosive device that was detonated outside of our consulate in June and an assassination attempt on the British ambassador,” said Republican senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte in a joint statement. “If the President was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national-security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the President informed. But if the President was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the events of Sept. 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any security failures that occurred. The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander in Chief. The buck stops there.”

“This was a purely political move to give Obama breathing room tomorrow night. That’s it,” said therightscoop.com.

Clinton said she chose this moment, more than a month after the attack, to finally speak out because the tragedy was becoming increasingly politicized. “I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha,” she said.

Clinton’s admission tarnishes her legacy as one of the most successful and persuasive secretaries of state in recent history. And it would become a political liability for her should she decide to run for President in 2016. That said, Clinton made a persuasive case that while the world is a dangerous place, diplomacy will always carry risks, and attacks like the one in Benghazi should not force America to pull back. “We can’t not engage,” she said. “We cannot retreat.”

MORE: Did the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi Not Have Enough Security?

154 comments
clb2012now
clb2012now

Hillary can take responsibility for the security, Obama still is responsible for lying to Americans for the "video did it" meme.

curt3rd
curt3rd

Obama administration lied about the cause of the attack so his foriegn policy wouldnt look so inept. Now they have Hilary fall on her sword so we might forget that they flat out lied to us. It had nothing to do with a stupid you tube video. I dont work for the CIA but I knew that from day one. An attack on our consulate in the middle east on 9/11 with RPGs and they thought it was a protest. 

S_Deemer
S_Deemer

"I take responsibility." What a weird state we have gotten to that a statement like that is newsworthy. Hillary is a class act; in hindsight, I wish I had voted for her during the primaries 4 years ago.

babycheeks
babycheeks

Perfect play from the Clinton playbook. When Waco happened with children burned alive and the lies became so evident, Janet Reno stepped up and "I take responsibility for Waco". The press joyfully declared it history and praised Reno for her courage. Bill Clinton was spared any further questions. The media will certainly bless their favorite again in this race. Story over. 

annevincent
annevincent

And its only taken a month for Hillary to acknowledge that there was inadequate security, despite the fact that Ambassador Stevens specifically begged for more security from the State Dept., in the face of clear threats and documented dangerous conditions, in a tenuous and unstable country, that had just undergone a revolution and new government formation. She has always been dishonest with the American people....so what else is new? Too bad the plan to blame a stupid video didn't work out. Darn reality got in the way of "spin". 

 

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

Live and learn.  The Repubs and their Military Industrial Complex LIED about WMDs in Iraq and then TORTURED in violation of international LAW.  WAR PROFITEERING at the COST of LOST LIVES and LIMBS NO MORE!

Only President OBAMA and the DEMOCRATS PROTECT the MIDDLE CLASS.  

VOTE the DEMOCRATIC TICKET!  I DID!

HILLARY for PRESIDENT 2016!

wdmll
wdmll

The buck stops with the man in charge. Obama is the head honcho. Hillary Clinton has been told, to throw herself under the bus.

 

Obama going to Cairo and telling the Muslim World, that the USA and the West was responsible for all of the problems in the Middle East, started the Arab Spring.

 

Al Qaeda and the rest of the jihadists are now taking advantage of the opportunity.

akpat
akpat

Its strange that in this country we have people in politics and the media who beleive that they should know all that is going on in what is obviously a chaotic situation .

 To splash all over the media information and that may well be against the best interests of this nation and its security allowing the perpetrators to get away.

Some things need to be kept secret. Its as simple as that. Why would we blurt out what we are doing and give the other side an advantage.

akpat
akpat

US embassy attacks  Libreville, Gabon, March 5 and 8,

1964 Saigon, Vietnam, January 31, 1968 

Tehran, Iran, November 4, 1979: 

Islamabad, Pakistan, November 22, 1979 

Tripoli, Libya, December 2, 1979: 

Beirut, Lebanon, April 18, 1983...................63 dead 

Kuwait City, Kuwait, December 12, 1983 

Jakarta, Indonesia, May 1986 

Rome, Italy, June 1987: 

Lima, Peru, January 15, 1990

 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, August 7, 1998...223 dead 4k injured

 Paris, France, September 13, 2001....plot foiled 

Karachi, Pakistan, June 14, 2002, February 28, 2003, March 15, 2004, and March 2, 2006......14 killed 52 injured 

Tashkent, Uzbekistan, July 30, 2004:.....2 dead 

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, December 6, 2004.....5 dead 10 injured 

Damascus, Syria, September 12, 2006: 

Athens, Greece, January 12, 2007: 

Istanbul, Turkey, July 9, 2008:....6 dead 

San'a, Yemen, September 7, 2008:....6 dead

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 he president was warned of an

impending threat of terrorism. He failed to act. The attack came,

Americans died, and now the administration is covering up the truth.

That’s what Republicans are arguing

in 2012. Which is pretty funny, if you don’t count the dead Americans,

because it’s the opposite of what the GOP said 10 years ago. Back then,

the conspiracy theories and the 20/20 hindsight

were about the original 9/11 attacks. And the Republican Party line was

that anyone who accused the president of neglect or deceit was

unpatriotic.

Yesterday the Republican National Committee posted a 4,500-word indictment of Obama’s role, or lack thereof, in the recent assault on the Libyan consulate. “Less

than two months before the Benghazi attack,” said the RNC, “the State

Department determined that ‘the risk of U.S. mission personnel, private

U.S. citizens and businesspersons encountering an isolating event as a

result of militia or political violence Is HIGH.’” Meanwhile, “U.S.

security officials repeatedly warned the State Department that more U.S.

security personnel were needed in Libya.” Instead, security was cut

back.

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The RNC mocked Joe Biden for asserting in last week’s debate, “We weren’t told they wanted more security.”

It said Biden’s remarks “raised questions about what had been included

in the president’s briefing on the U.S. security posture the day before

the 9/11 anniversary.” And it skewered White House press secretary Jay

Carney telling reporters “there was no actionable intelligence that

suggested there would be an attack at the Benghazi facility.” The larger

question, the RNC maintained, was whether Obama, in his security

briefing, had been told of previous plots and security concerns more

broadly.

Dick Cheney, the former vice president, has been pressing this issue against Obama. On Oct. 2, Cheney said,

“The latest thing I’ve heard now is that … they had denied the

additional security resources that had been requested by the Benghazi

consulate … it looks like the administration’s been involved in a

cover-up.”  Cheney’s daughter, Liz, elaborated on the evidence:

“There was a DOD assessment, there was a CIA assessment. You had the

chairman of the Joint Chiefs today say there's been this thread of

intelligence that, in fact, al-Qaida is resurgent in Libya, resurgent

particularly in Benghazi. There may well have been information out there

that the president should have been aware of, that the State Department

should have been aware of.”

Donald Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary, makes the same point. “It's clear that they misjudged the security situation,” he told Fox News on Oct. 1. A day later, Rumsfeld paraphrased reports that U.S. officials had failed “to respond promptly to a threat report and to concerns that were being expressed by the people in Libya.” Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, was more emphatic. “This is a cover-up,”

he charged. “And it's the worst kind of cover-up, a cover-up that

involves our national security, a cover-up that involves the slaughter

of four Americans.” On Oct. 9, Giuliani concluded:

“We should never have been attacked in Libya. The warnings were

manifold. Instead of increasing security, we decreased security. It is

quite possible that the ambassador and the other three Americans didn’t

have to die if there [had been] a competent reaction.”

Maybe so. Maybe, if Obama and his underlings had heeded the danger

signs, those four Americans would be alive today. But it’s pretty rich

to hear this complaint about “the events of September 11, 2012” from the people who presided over the original events of Sept. 11. You know, the ones in which nearly 3,000 Americans died.

The 9/11 commission report, issued in July 2004, documented numerous warning signs of that attack,

all of which went unheeded. One was a July 2001 memo from the Phoenix

FBI office to FBI headquarters, warning of the "possibility of a

coordinated effort by Usama Bin Ladin" to train terrorists as pilots in

U.S. flight schools. Another was the August 2001 arrest of one of the

9/11 plotters, Zacarias Moussaoui, for suspicious conduct at a flight

school, which “was briefed to … top CIA officials.” But the most

embarrassing document was the Aug. 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Brief,

which carried the title, "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US.”

When the Aug. 6 document came to light in May 2002, Cheney brushed it

off. “It didn't give us any actionable intelligence,” he insisted in a Fox News interview. “It didn't really give us anything new or anything precise or specific.” As to the rest of the warning signs, Cheney argued,

There wasn't anything out there that would

have allowed us to predict what was going to happen. We found out since

Sept. 11 that the FBI had Moussaoui in custody in Minnesota. We didn't

know that before the 11th. That didn't trickle up to the presidential

level. We've since heard about the so-called Phoenix memo that dates

back to sometime in July, but again that didn't come up. … In terms of

getting down into the nitty gritty, into the weeds of this kind of

intelligence reporting, you know, we're not in the habit of reading the

raw intelligence reports from the FBI. There are 56 bureaus around the

country, and that stuff—there aren't enough hours in the day for us to

do all of that, so you need a system that deals with it.

Paul Dirks
Paul Dirks

Lest we forget, Romney had already declared the event a political football before Stevens' corpse was even cold. Everything he's done since has been to attempt to erase the utter callousness of his original response.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Good for her.  Romney won't follow up on this because he can't be seen attacking her with her high ratings (and his problems with female voters) so I guess they'll just have to keep pretending like this is all one big conspiracy on Obama's part.  Maybe someday they'll draw blood from the stone, god knows they're trying.

Michael Wensink
Michael Wensink

p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }a:link { }

The Sinaloa Federation launched the

Bengazi attack to undermine Obama's leadership. The Sinaloa

Federation is composed of several factions including American,

Israeli and Lebanese. Under the leadership of Eric Holder the US

Justice Department has been attacking the Sinaloa Federation

successfully. They want a friendlier administration in the

Whitehouse.

I have filed a civil RICO lawsuit

against the Sinaloa Federation in the Northern Judicial District of

Ohio 1:12 CV 2501.

Joaquin Guzman Lorea, Ismael Zambada

Garcia, Darrell Edward Issa, Charles Ellis Schumer, Orrin Grant

Hatch, Robert Swan Mueller III, Cesare Frank Figliuzzi, Douglas H

Shulman, Jose A.Gonzalez, Robert T. Bennett, John Richard Kasich,

Edward Fitzgerald, Thomas P. Perciak and others known and unknown,

are members and associates of the Sinaloa Federation AKA the Sinaloa

Cartel, AKA the Federation a criminal organization whose members and

associates engaged in: (a) the illegal trafficking of cocaine and

marijuana; (b) the laundering of drug proceeds; and (c) acts of

violence, including, kidnapping, torture and murder of those who lose

or steal assets from, are disloyal to, or are perceived as enemies of

the Sinaloa Cartel, and which operated principally in the United

States of America, the Republic of Mexico, the Northern Judicial

District of Ohio and elsewhere in the United States.

 

MrObvious
MrObvious

At least someone takes responsibility since the righties have decided to make this political.

Not that the people who voted to slash the budget will. They're more then content to throw blame around but do nothing about the real issue.

SAJ2995
SAJ2995

Poor Hillary.  Seems like she has lost polling numbers now that she "took one for the team".  

Liberals are celebrating her today because she thought more for the cause than for her reputation and future aspirations.  They will martyr her just like the jihadist who killed our Ambassador and totally destroyed our consulate in Benghazi.

But, the real damage has been done.  They LIED.  They attempted a cover-up and it failed.  That is the real issue here.  As most lies will eventually come out, this one is no different with the exception that this Administration was caught doing it.  

Now who made the decision to lie about it?  Hillary or Barack?  Once we get that answer, then we can move on.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

And here in a nut shell is the key difference between Obama's administration and every Republican administration in my living memory. They actually take responsibility for their actions and admit mistakes. The Republicans just challenge the Patriotism of anyone who would dare question their follies.

Don Bartenstein
Don Bartenstein

Perhaps she should follow Bush/Cheney's example and , instead of taking responsibility, use it as an opportunity to open up the treasury to her cronies in the name of patriotism and war.

William SP
William SP

this is what women do soft hearted and lack of of judgement but bold and brave to face the truth and accepts responsability and failures the men dares not to

rollin123
rollin123

Stop calling Clinton a scape goat or fall guy for Obama. The president in any administration gets far too much credit for the successes and failures of the country. The government is not run by and does not fall on one person. The government is made up of different branches which in turn are made up of many many components and people. This was, as secretary of state, much more Clinton's territory. She is taking responsibility for short comings and that takes courage and responsibility, something that we really should hear a lot more than we do. It reminds me if the speech that Eisenhower thankfully never had to give.

“Our landings have failed and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

We need more of that and we need more of this.

SiDevilIam
SiDevilIam

Call in Julian Assange to clear the obnoxious air over the Benghazi. Oops, the kind of truth Julian Assange reported before is the reason he is hiding for his life in Equador's Embassy in London.

Rudy Giuliany has come up with the ultimate solution. Washington Post published an article wherein he said, among other useless things, "Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani slammed President Obama’s foreign policy as one of “provocative weakness...the Obama administration’s handling of the attacks on the U.S.

diplomatic mission in Libya. He said the president had been “a real

failure in the Middle East...You look at the disaster in Libya, you look

at all the contradictory stories of this administration – this is a

scandal,”

Furthermore, he said: under a Romney administration he would “tell the truth to the American people.”

I have major problems with Romney brand of truth.

"

bakulaji

5:53 AM EDT

Rudy Giuliani, Sir, "...tell the truth to the American people.." Your words, not mine. 

Mitt

Romney, Sir, "...tell the truth to the American people...about your

Bain Capital business career capers and your penchant of hiding your

loot in overseas, Oops, offshore accounts. Throw in some light upon your

morality in making a quick buck and throw the middle class blue collar

workers under the bus. How about paying due taxes, being a multimillion

dollar business typhoon, Oops, tygoon, Oops, tycoon running amok among

defensless common (working) men?" 

...and I am Sid Harth@gosumercogito.blogspot.com

Shams Aci
Shams Aci

 Notwithstanding, a leader in any field of work should be careful in taking any step with full pledged responsibility because any of his/her irresponsible step taken in a haste or without considering ins and outs of it, can cause severe damage to the sufferers because of him or her on his/her risk and consequences.

     .- A.R.Shams's Reflection - Press and Online Publications http://arshamssreflection.blog/..

Joseph Maloney
Joseph Maloney

"Fog of War"?  I thought this was an Arab Spring of democracy?  President Obama, the State Department, and Hillary Clinton have lied, and deceived the american people!

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Obama administration released facts as they were confirmed. Hillary did the right thing and took accountability. Compare that to the actions of past administrations.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Funny how it takes a while to get clear data in a post combat zone. Perhaps you would have preferred that they covered the facts up for years like previous administrations?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Al Qaeda is running for their lives hiding from drones. But by all means keep indulging in your the President is an Al Qaeda sympathizer fantasies

miki801
miki801

Why don't you blame Bush?  He had as much notice.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 No Hillary is showing all these Republicans how a real Secretary of State takes accountability for the actions of the 60,000 employees that report to her. She seems to be more "man" than any Republican politician of the last 40 years in her willingness to be accountable. Compare that to Bush 9/11 and Iraq and Reagan's Iran/Contra.

miki801
miki801

Ambassador Steven's mother has asked the Romney campaign to back off on the political use of her son's murder.  Have they no shame?

KJak
KJak

What do you know about Mrs. Clinton's plans or aspirations? Personally, I find your: "They LIED" hilarious. You have no clue what is really going on. Unless you have the proper national security clearance - and if you did you wouldn't be here - then you're just another talking parrot. Partisan hack - you're making Rush proud. No go and enjoy your fried mayonnaise sandwich with pork rinds. 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Poor Rusty,

Hillary's willingness to stand up and take blame shows what a hollow shell the State Departments actually were under Reagan and Bush the younger.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

This coming from the guy that was claiming yesterday that the administration had a direct hand in their deaths.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

That's exactly right. It would only "tarnish...her legacy as one of the most successful and persuasive secretaries of state in recent history," if she played some decision-making role in denying recommended security improvements at the embassy, which is highly unlikely. Otherwise, it only makes her look like a responsible executive. Though valueless media figures may be incapable of seeing the substance of it. 

27
27

This is just what is called "being thrown under the bus" and in this case it is for entirely politically motivated reasons.

Khagaraj
Khagaraj

The real scandal here is the stupid,mismanaged coverup and elaborate lying subsequent to the Benghazi consulate attack.Nobody is taking responsibility for this.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Since when is Rudy Guliani an expert on foreign policy? The closest he got to the Middle East is a falafel place on the Upper East Side.

KJak
KJak

Yes, God forbid intelligent, responsible people try to analyse the facts and events before jumping to conclusions and shooting of their mouths without having any facts or data. Hmm... who did I see do that, again? 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 The only ones who are lying to the American people are the Republicans who are gleefully trying to take political advantage from the deaths of brave Americans.

curt3rd
curt3rd

Obama is in the oval office last time I looked not the past administration or do you want to blame this on Bush also?  And they had the facts. Anyone who couldnt see this was a terrorist attack is an idiot. So either he is a lier or incompetent.

Les Moore
Les Moore

Psssst, mantisdragon91 is being sarcastic . . .

Guest
Guest

More like voluntarily crawling under the bus as a sacrificial lamb/scapegoat (edit: mixed ruminants metaphor alert, heh). Not exactly sure how I feel about this yet, but still, props to this administration for owning up, whoever does it.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 You mean like Mittens tried to do to everyone involved even before he knew all the facts?

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Why? All embassy matters are under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State. It is appropriate for Sec. Clinton to step forward to assume responsibility for any lack of security (although lack of security was also the responsibility of the ambassador on the scene; after all, it is the ambassador who informs the secretary of state and the president about the situation on the ground). It is still unclear if the decisions being made in Libya were based on good intelligence that was not acted on, or on a lack of good intelligence. Mainly, this "issue" is just Romney trying to stir up a foreign policy controversy for political gain since he has no credibility whatsoever in that area.

Mike259
Mike259

That's exactly what I was thinking. 'Under the bus'.

babycheeks
babycheeks

 Your correct, the real scandal is the lying and attempted cover up that included the VP Biden even in the debate. The media will give them a pass to prevent political damage to Obama before the election.

KJak
KJak

Haha! Nicely done. 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Sorry but the term incompetent liar is more applicable to the past occupant of the White House. One who I am sure that you voted for twice without hesitation.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

And since you are talking about coverups remeber a little thing called the Iraq war where thousands of Americans died while Cheney's former company made billions in profits.

curt3rd
curt3rd

Since your talking about cover ups. Remeber a little thing called fast and furious.  Obama used executive order to bury all the documents relating to it.  This coming from the guy promising tranceparency.

Keep drinking the kool aid lady

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 Or he wants to provide accurate information. I understand that it is hard for Republicans to understand that not everything is a coverup or a lie being as that is what you were conditioned to expect by Republican administrations. But we are in a brave new world now. Learn it, Embrace it, Live with it.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 No the real scandal is that a Presidential candidate tried to slander the State Department and the President in the hope of scoring cheap political points.