Did Clinton Close the Book on Benghazi?

Clinton's testimony before Congress produced plenty of heat but little new light. Hillary's history at State likely won't bear a Benghazi asterisk, and she awaits a new chapter unburdened.

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REUTERS/Jason Reed

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits down to testify on the September attack on U.S. diplomatic sites in Benghazi, Libya during a hearing held by the U.S.Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 23, 2013.

Hillary Clinton’s testimony before Congress on Wednesday had it all: laughter and tears, anger and poignancy. On one of her last days as Secretary of State—John Kerry could be confirmed as her successor within days—Clinton spent a long day answering often-hostile questions from two different oversight panels about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that claimed the lives of four Americans.

Clinton’s testimony produced plenty of heat but little new light on the attacks. Some Republicans, first on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and later the House Foreign Affairs Committee, charged that Clinton should be held responsible for inadequate security at the compound where Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed and suggested that she’d been part of a White House effort to mislead Congress and the public about the true nature of a terrorist attack that struck at the height of the presidential campaign.

(VIDEO: Best Two Minutes of Clinton’s Benghazi Testimony)

Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said Clinton should have resigned following the attack and accused her of “a failure of leadership.”* Senator John McCain called Clinton’s answers “not satisfactory.” McCain said he was disappointed that the State Department, and particularly Clinton herself, had not been more aware of the dire security situation in Benghazi and the Tripoli embassy’s repeated cable requests for more security resources. Clinton insisted that those complaints had not risen to her level. Her department, she later told the House panel, receives “1.4 million cables, all of them addressed to me. I don’t read them all.”

As they have for months, Republicans harped on United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice’s comments on various television networks the Sunday following the attack that it had been the product of a protest gone awry. Clinton repeatedly pointed out that at the time of the attack U.S. embassies in Yemen, Cairo, Tunis and Khartoum were all under assault because of violent protests over an American-made video mocking the Prophet Mohamed, so it took “several days” to fully determine that the Benghazi attack was not related to those protests. She also noted that an independent panel’s report on the attack found that what exactly happened in Benghazi remains murky and many of the lingering questions may never be fully answered.

But it was Republican charges that the administration had distorted the facts about Benghazi for political reasons that drew Clinton’s real ire. During one exchange with Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Clinton pounded her hand on the table. “[P]eople have accused Ambassador Rice and the administration of misleading Americans… nothing could be further from the truth,” Clinton said, her voice rising. “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 is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”

(MORE: Clinton on Benghazi: Tears and Anger)

Democrats, meanwhile, focused on Republican cuts to State Department funding, which they say led to the security lapses in Benghazi. Clinton repeatedly noted that her department’s requests have been consistently underfunded, sometimes by as much as 10%. Panel Democrats also noted that other intelligence lapses have cost America more dearly. “We were told by every level of government here there were Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that justified a war,” said Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat. “We are still searching for those weapons. They didn’t exist. Thousands of Americans lost their lives. Let’s hold a hearing on that.”

Clinton said the State Department is implementing all 29 recommendations the independent panel suggested to prevent another Benghazi-type attack from happening again. She also said she appointed the first ever deputy secretary of State responsible for high-risks posts and implemented an annual review by the secretary over such posts.

But Clinton was passionate when talking about her hope that the attack would not cause America to retreat from places like Benghazi. “When America is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences: Extremism takes root, our interests suffer, our security at home is threatened,” she said. She said the Arab Spring represented not only an ongoing risk, but an opportunity for the U.S. — a chance to help build democracy across the Middle East and northern Africa.

(MORE: In Libya: Why the Benghazi Investigation Is Going Nowhere)

And she became especially emotional when talking about how hard it was calling and meeting with the families of the Americans who lost their lives. “For me, this is not just a matter of policy. It’s personal. I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews,” she said, her voice breaking. “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 strove to close the book on the “political football” of Benghazi. And perhaps she succeeded. Republicans looking to score new points against Clinton or Obama probably left the hearings disappointed. And with Rice sidelined and Clinton about to depart, further hearings on the tragic episode seem unlikely. There may be important security issues left to discuss, but Benghazi without politics is a much less interesting subject to Capitol Hill.

There does however remain the question of presidential politics—not so much Obama’s re-election campaign, but Clinton’s own potential aspirations. As Clinton leaves her post, she is among the most popular politicians in America, with 65% percent of Americans approving of her, according to a January Pew poll, and just 29% holding an unfavorable view of her. For the moment, it does not appear that Benghazi will be an obstacle to a potential new chapter in Hillary Clinton’s epic political story. “You will be sorely missed, but I hope not for too long,” Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, slyly suggested. “I wish you well in your future endeavors,” quipped Rep. Steve Chabot, an Ohio Republican. “Mostly.”

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

 

*Watch the exchange between Clinton and Sen. Paul below:

322 comments
jhk
jhk

I guess tomrrow when the new book by Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL, and Jack Murphy, a former Green Beret, comes out Jay Newton-Small will not cover it or discuss the abuses by the CIA or FBI.  No, its not Hillary's fault it is an undeclared war or assinations by this administration that caused the situation that escalated into the murders of four Americans.  Read it and decide for yourself.  

mrmsjb12
mrmsjb12

a excellent job of sweeping it under the table not one word about the darn video that they all bull crapped about for two weeks or more while they was investigating and changing stories about 5 times

znaso001
znaso001

June 14, 2002, U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. Suicide bomber kills 12 and injures 51. February 20, 2003, international diplomatic compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Truck bomb kills 17. February 28, 2003, U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. Gunmen on motorcycles killed two consulate guards. July 30, 2004, U.S. embassy in Taskkent, Uzbekistan. Suicide bomber kills two. December 6, 2004, U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Militants stormed and occupied perimeter wall. Five killed, 10 wounded. March 2, 2006, U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. Suicide car bomber killed four, including a U.S. diplomat directly targeted by the assailants. September 12, 2006, U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria. Gunmen attacked embassy with grenades, automatic weapons, and a car bomb (though second truck bomb failed to detonate). One killed and 13 wounded. January 12, 2007, U.S. embassy in Athens, Greece. A rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the embassy building. No one was injured. July 9, 2008, U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Armed men attacked consulate with pistols and shotguns. Three policemen killed. March 18, 2008, U.S. embassy in Sana’a, Yemen. Mortar attack misses embassy, hits nearby girls’ school instead. September 17, 2008, U.S. embassy in Sana’a, Yemen. Militants dressed as policemen attacked the embassy with RPGs, rifles, grenades and car bombs. Six Yemeni soldiers and seven civilians were killed. Sixteen more were injured.

Hmm...

relmasian
relmasian

While most of the public think that the Administration could have done better in Benghazi, the sad fact for those seeking political advantage is that the Benghazi tragedy is not a high priority concern for most.  In fact, except for those seeking political leverage most of the public will devote more time watching and rating Superbowl commercials.

ArxFerrum
ArxFerrum

What difference does it make?

I can't believe she said that and got away with it...

HerbertKaine
HerbertKaine

The hearings raised more questions than they answered. I want to know if it was President Valerie Jarrets decision not to provide adequate security to our consulate

paulejb
paulejb

The Government of ‘What Difference Does It Make?’

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R-CA): “It has been suggested the budget cuts are responsible for lack of security in Benghazi, and I’d like to ask Ms. Lamb, you made this decision personally, was there any budget consideration and lack of budget that led you not to increase the number of people in the security force there?”

STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS CHARLENE LAMB: “No, sir.” (U.S. House Of Representatives, Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Hearing, 10/10/12)

The lies of the Obama regime and it's lackeys continue to this very day.

hrc2012
hrc2012

Does it infuriate anyone but me that we pay these people to be on a committee - the purpose of which should be to gather information in order to craft legislation to solve problems - but they spend their time not asking questions, but blowing hot political air and grandstanding, and then putting a question mark at the end of their diatribe?  Why are we paying these people to huff and puff and try to be as obnoxious as possible? 

Cudos to Hillary Clinton   - a woman with a hard drive of facts in her brain.  She was prepared; she was honest; she attempted to answer even the most ridiculous of charges, all the while showing grit, compassion, intelligence, thoughtfulness and pragmatism toward finding answers to problems, and moving our country forward.  If only we could say the same about the Senators and Representatives.

If Hillary Clinton does not run for President in 2016, this  country will be the poorer for her decision.

tfdrumm
tfdrumm

Since World War II, the following U.S. Ambassadors have been killed by militants:

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS SORT OF TRAGEDY IS NOT A FEATURE OF  REPUB NOR DEM LEADERSHIP; AND THAT ONLY THE LAST TRAGIC SLAYING WAS CALLOUSLY EXPLOITED FOR POLITICAL GAIN... 

Rand Paul...Shut up!

Heian
Heian

@znaso001 Well obviously the republicans can't go being upset about those, there was Bush in the White House...

Heian
Heian

@paulejb "Just hours before" Oh yes, plenty of time to make a change across the globe. Though really, all you're doing is pulling things out of context that suit you.

Which alone shows you're a republican.


Heian
Heian

@ArxFerrum I can't believe you could take an out-of-context soundbite and run with it with such ignorant glee. If you could take the time to actually know the context...well, that's me being silly and assuming you care about that, and aren't just thumping the republican propaganda  drum.

Meanwhile, those of us who watched more than four seconds of the proceedings can look at comments like yours and feel bad for those who have to put up with your ignorance.

ahandout
ahandout

Did you notice that they got away with lying to the American people?  What difference does it make?  The press covers up, the administration lies.  Think that it will make a difference?  Yeah it will.

paulejb
paulejb

@HerbertKaine ,

That would be odd since it was Valerie Jarret and Hillary's decision to lead Obama by the nose into Libya. They were aided in that by Samantha Power and Susan Rice. These four gals led Barack Hussein Obama into Libya with absolutely no plan for and end game.

outsider
outsider

@HerbertKaine


It was Steven's decision not to have more security, because he was trying to remain low key, and reach out to the population; his fear was that too much military presence would undermine the mission there. 


That's from the NY Times. 


But Steven's himself raised concerns that the security forces from Libya weren't enough in the time leading up to the attack.

jmac
jmac

@kbanginmotown We're encouraging paulejb to keep up the rhetoric.  He and Rand Paul are the best friends a Democrat could have. 

MrObvious
MrObvious

@paulejb 

Of course most people with a functional cortex knows that request for additional security was not for Benghazi. Apparently GOP congress critters are not aware of it and not the sycophants that spam blogs with this nostrum. 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejb No idiot. Benghazi was a CIA post. They controlled their own security decisions. But by all means keep trying to blame the State Department for it.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@hrc2012   "...they spend their time not asking questions, but blowing hot political air and grandstanding, and then putting a question mark at the end of their diatribe?"


Lawrence O'Donnell just explained yesterday why this is so. The reason is because most of these blowhards don't actually know anything, work very hard to hide what idiots they are, and the people who are testifying are typically smart and well-informed, as was obviously the case here. Many times, they also don't want to hear the uncomfortable truths that contradict their political lies. Again, see Republicans/Benghazi.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@hrc2012 

This is like the F&F investigation. It was used as a political hamfisted attempt to put Obama in a bad light but it offered absolutely no solutions to the actual problem.

What have been done about the thousands getting killed in the drug war due to assault weapons gun runned to Mexico or the threat to our border agents in the process?

Nothing. Once it turned out to be nothing the investigation dropped like a rock and that was it. Yet border agents are still at risk and more people are getting killed. That's why the GOP congress critters are worthless.

Now take Benghazi - the man so many rightwinger salivates over right now, Rand Paul, is one of the people who argue for defunding not only the security at our embassies but our foreign assets over all. And that's the one who seem to scream the loudest about how incompetent Hillary have been.

paulejb
paulejb

@hrc2012 ,

Who would know better about blowing hot air than you, HRC? I would have thought that you especially would be careful about alleging that anyone was blowing.

paulejb
paulejb

@tfdrumm ,

With the one exception that the last attack took place on the jihadist's holiest day of the year eleven full years after the day that made 9/11 holy for Islamic fanatics and it happened in one of the most dangerous cities for Americans in the world except for maybe Chicago.

HerbertKaine
HerbertKaine

@outsider2011 @HerbertKaine I heard the opposite, that there were several requests for more security, but Pred Jarrett vetoed them because a) it would offend the locaks and b) since we had liberated Libya, there was no one who would be angry at us. Even if Stevens didnt request more security, we should have more in Benghazi than we do in safe places such as Paris or London

I take what I read in the NYT with a grain of salt. I suspect you do too

paulejb
paulejb

@MrObvious @paulejb ,

Most people are ignorant of the fact that it was the Obama policy of keeping a low profile in Libya that got Ambassador Stevens and his three colleagues killed. While State was pinching pennies in Benghazi it was wasting $100,000 for an electric car charger in Vienna.

jmac
jmac

@mantisdragon91 @paulejb Why isn't Paule yelling that we  need to invade Mali?  It's all part of the same African takeover.   Clinton:  "Benghazi didn't happen in a vacuum.  The Arab revolutions have scrambled power dynamics and shattered security forces across the region."  

paulejb
paulejb

@MrObvious @hrc2012 ,

Obama is only put in a bad light because the Obama regime is packed with feckless incompetents who couldn't find their own arses with two hands and a road map.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejb @hrc2012 And speaking of blowing hot air, no witty graphics or articles from Hotair.com lately? Are you slipping or did even you realize how useless and credibility lacking that site truly is.

tfdrumm
tfdrumm

@paulejb @tfdrumm

There was security, along with the extremely pro-American free Libyan government forces, which did succeed in re-securing the Consulate--but not before a fire was started which killed 2 of 4 hiding in a saferoom. 9 hours later a lucky mortar round killed the two ex-Seals far away, at the CIA Annex. You talk as if this was the Little Big Horn in terms of some colossal error in judgement. It wasn't; security very nearly was adequate. And it was not Clinton's idea for the Ambassador to be in Benghazi that day.  It was the Ambassador's own choice to hole up in a Consulate on 9-11, rather than in the better protected embassy.

paulejb
paulejb

@mantisdragon91 @paulejb @MrObvious ,

Ambassador Stevens specifically asked the Obama regime for more security and his request was denied and that denial cost him his life. His blood is on the hands of the regime.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@paulejb @MrObvious 

Again - the extra security was NOT for BENGHAZI. The fact that I dropped the hint and you as a drone glaze over it like a mindless zombie makes me think that GOP and its base are a couple years behind basic fundamental logic.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejb @MrObvious Nice lie. It was Stevens profile to keep a low profile. He was a much braver and more competent man than any of the Republican idiots trying to profit from his death.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@paulejb @MrObvious @hrc2012

Obama is only put in a bad light because the Obama regime is packed with feckless incompetents who couldn't find their own arses with two hands and a road map.

Not at all. They tried before the election and voters rejected the other guy. Time and time again you keep arguing for a fantasy that a majority find incomprehensible and moronic.

No Bugs, that dog won't hunt. Obama and his merry band of left wing looters and pillagers have been in control for four years now. They are presiding over the final decline of the American society.

Again, this has already been shot down. By a majority of the population. The economy is getting stronger despite the party of no and with it our fiscal situation that is slowly improving. The more vocal the fringe (you get) the more obvious it becomes for a majority of people that you and your representatives do no offer solutions; only further entrenchment in what's causing our economy to sputter.


paulejb
paulejb

@mantisdragon91 @paulejb @MrObvious @hrc2012 ,

No Bugs, that dog won't hunt. Obama and his merry band of left wing looters and pillagers have been in control for four years now. They are presiding over the final decline of the American society.