U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has turned down a request to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee next Thursday on the Benghazi attack, weeks after repeated requests to appear at the hearings went unanswered.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed on November 9 that Secretary Clinton will be out of the country next week and unable to attend the hearing, reports PJ Tatler.
Nuland did not say if Secretary Clinton would appear at other Senate and House meetings probing what went wrong during the September 11 attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
The news comes weeks after Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) began requesting State Department cooperation in the ongoing investigation of the attack.
“On Sept. 12 and Sept. 14, the chairwoman requested State Department witnesses for both an open hearing and closed-door members’ briefing,” notes PJ Tatler. “On Sept. 25, committee members requested information on intelligence leading up to the attack and the role former Guantanamo detainees may have played. On Oct. 15, fresh requests were sent from Ros-Lehtinen directly to Clinton. No responses have been received.”
Responsibility for security and military assistance failures during the attack has moved from a blame game in the Obama administration to unraveling many of its foreign policy achievements. After the administration initially blamed an anti-Muslim film for sparking demonstrations that led to the attack, it was later revealed terrorist group Al Queada planned the assault to coincide with the anniversary of September 11, 2001.
The CIA was initially blamed for refusing aid to the besieged embassy. The spy agency denied the charges, directly contradicting the White House. Two of the Americans killed during the attack were later revealed to be CIA agents, as were a large number of Americans on the ground at the site.
Congressional hearings in October revealed that not only was the State Department aware of several requests for increased security in Benghazi, the department rejected them.
Secretary Clinton took “full responsibility” on October 16 for intelligence bungling that led to the Americans’ deaths.
CIA Director David Petraeus, who was expected to testify at the hearings next week, resigned on Friday after revealing an extramarital affair.
Michael Courts, acting director of International Affairs and Trade for the Government Accountability Office, and a RAND Corp. analyst, are expected to testify at the hearing next week.