Hillary: The Buck Stops With Me On Benghazi
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took full responsibility on Tuesday for intelligence bungling that resulted in the murder of four Americans, including the American ambassador to Libya, during last month’s terrorist attack on the embassy in Benghazi.
“I take responsibility,” she told CNN. “I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world (at) 275 posts. The president and the vice-president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They’re the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision.”
Secretary Clinton made similar comments during several other interviews while on a trip to Lima, Peru.
President Obama, with Secretary Clinton standing by his side, initially blamed the attack on Muslim extremists enraged over a YouTube video defaming the Prophet Mohammed. Other information later revealed that terrorists directly linked to Al Queda had planed the attack to coincide with the anniversary of September 11, 2001. The initial story given by the Obama administration was completely untrue.
The scandal, which has the potential to destroy any credibility President Obama has with his foreign policy agenda, crystallized during last week’s vice presidential debate, Vice-President Joe Biden claimed “we weren’t told” about requests for extra security at the consulate, where assailants killed the Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.
Congressional hearings last week revealed that not only was the State Department aware of several requests for increased security in Benghazi, the department rejected them. While spokesmen for both the State Department and the White House took pains Friday to make clear that Biden’s reference to “we” referred to the White House, where such requests would not go in the early stages, it does not explain why Secretary Clinton stood approvingly by President Obama’s side when he blamed a video and not Al Queda for the attack.
“In the wake of an attack like this, in the fog of war, there’s always going to be confusion,” Clinton told CNN. “And I think it is absolutely fair to say that everyone had the same intelligence. Everyone who spoke tried to give the information that they had. As time has gone on, that information has changed. We’ve gotten more detail, but that’s not surprising. That always happens.”
Over the weekend, speculation grew as to whether Secretary Clinton was about to throw Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, “under the bus.” Ambassador Rice made the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows five days after the attack, repeating the narrative of a Muslim protest getting out-of-hand.
“What I want to avoid is some kind of political gotcha or blame game,” Secretary Clinton said during her CNN interview.
Secretary Clinton later told FOX News that “the decisions about security are made by security professionals. But we’re going to review everything to be sure we’re doing what needs to be done in an increasingly risky environment.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has claimed on the campaign trail that the Benghazi attack revealed weaknesses in President Obama’s foreign policy, and accused the Obama administration officials of misrepresenting information about the attack.
Secretary Clinton said the attack should not become political fodder.
“I know that we’re very close to an election,” Clinton told CNN. “I want to just take a step back here and say from my own experience, we are at our best as Americans when we pull together. I’ve done that with Democratic presidents and Republican presidents.”