In her long-awaited testimony, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says that she had moved quickly to improve the security of American diplomats after the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, Libya, according to an article from the New York Times.
The attack left four Americans dead brought about a scathing review of State Department procedures, which Clinton was set to address. Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she suggested that she was inclined to see the attack as a terrorist act from the start, stating “The very next morning, I told the American people that heavily armed militants assaulted our compound and vowed to bring them to justice. And I stood with President Obama as he spoke of ‘an act of terror,’” according to the Times.
Clinton also responded to persistent questions from Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson by saying that there has been too much focus on how the Benghazi attack was characterized in its early hours and not enough on how to prevent a recurrence, the article reports.
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Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, said that the Obama administration’s “aversion to nation-building precluded it from adequately helping Libya organize and train its own forces,” the New York Times reports. “Specifically, Mr. McCain said that the administration failed to provide the kind of training, equipment and other assistance that would help the fledgling civilian government in Tripoli confront the growing menace from militias in Benghazi and other parts of Libya,” the article says.
In response, Clinton says that Congress had delayed aid to Libya and that she would provide a list of steps that had been taken to train and equip the Libyan forces.
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Clinton was also scheduled to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday afternoon, the article says, which kicked off by Representative Ed Royce, R-Calif., questioning whether the State Department’s most senior officials should have or did know about the worsening security in Benghazi, the article says.
Secretary Clinton asserted that she was never made aware of the security requests from Benghazi by Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and his subordinates, the Times reports. She also noted that such requests are typically handled by security professionals in the department, not the secretary of state.
Since she first publicly took responsibility for the September attack in an Oct. 15 interview with reporters, she has committed herself to putting in place all of the 29 recommendations of the independent review from former American ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and required admiral and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, the article says. Clinton asserted that headway is being made on implementing all of the recommendations:
“And, as I pledged in my letter to you last month, implementation has now begun on all 29 recommendations. Our task force started by translating the recommendations into 64 specific action items. All of these action items were assigned to specific bureaus and offices, with clear timelines for completion. Fully 85 percent are on track to be completed by the end of March, with a number completed already,” she said, as reported in the Times.