Benghazi hearings: Will Hillary Clinton's testimony impact her future? (+video)
In a much anticipated appearance before Congress, Hillary Clinton testified Wednesday on the deadly attack on US diplomats in Benghazi, Libya. Sen. Rand Paul said he would have fired her.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made a much-anticipated appearance on Capitol Hill Wednesday, offering testimony on the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in which she put her focus on the diplomatic security upgrades and other changes she has ordered since the tragedy.Skip to next paragraph
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In morning testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary Clinton tried to keep her emphasis on how the US can improve diplomatic security in the future, while Republican senators wanted answers on Benghazi – why it was allowed to happen, what the Obama administration knew when, and why administration officials persisted so long in calling the terrorist attack the tragic outcome of a spontaneous demonstration.
The result was a sometimes testy, even fiery interchange in which Clinton at one point threw up her hands and questioned the relevance of the Republican hammering on how the administration characterized the attack. At another point Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky told Clinton that, were he president, he would have fired her over the attack.
Clinton was also appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday afternoon.
Clinton’s testimony was closely watched in part because some Republican senators have said they would not be prepared to vote on the nomination of Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts to replace Clinton until they received satisfactory answers from the Obama administration on Benghazi. Beyond that, perceptions of how Clinton handles the hearings are expected to follow her as she exits the State Department – influencing her record as secretary of state and certainly resurfacing if she decides to make another run for president in 2016.
On the Senate side, Clinton repeated her earlier acceptance of full responsibility for the Benghazi tragedy that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.
“As I have said many times since Sept. 11, I take responsibility,” she said in her opening statement. “I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure.”
The important task now, she added, was to move forward and make the changes – including granting the secretary of state the authority to shift existing State Department funding to needs, like increased security, that may arise – that she said could help head off similar tragedies in the future.
Clinton offered a broad assessment of instability and terrorism risks likely to exist across North and West Africa for years to come, and said the US would continue to grapple with balancing security challenges with the need to remain engaged in the world’s riskiest environments.
“This is going to be a very serious, ongoing threat,” she said. “We are in for a struggle, but it is a necessary struggle.”