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.
(Page 2 of 2)
Republicans seemed less interested in such lofty notions for the future than in revisiting the shortcomings revealed by Benghazi.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Hillary 2016: Will she or won't she?
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona, who worked closely with Clinton when she was a senator, told her “the answers you’ve given today are not satisfactory to me,” before later saying “I categorically reject your answer” as to why the State Department did not immediately debrief officials who survived the attack to get a clear idea more quickly as to what had happened.
The State Department “should have at least interviewed the people who were there,” Senator McCain said, suggesting that could have prevented the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, from going on Sunday news shows on Sept. 15 and giving answers that were “false.”
McCain did, however, expand his criticism beyond the specific failures in Benghazi, underscoring his view that it was the Obama administration’s insistence on a “soft footprint” – no US military on the ground – in Libya after the fall of strongman Muammar Qaddafi that was “potentially responsible for the [Benghazi] tragedy.”
Clinton responded to her old friend “we just have a disagreement” over both “what happened and when it happened” in Benghazi and the administration’s actions in Libya post-Qaddafi. She did remind the senators that a number of congressional “holds” had been put on administration requests for funding for stepped-up involvement in Libya.
A common refrain from some members of Congress, she said, was, “Why are we doing anything for Libya, it’s a wealthy country” because of its oil.
Suggesting that the disconnect between Congress and the administration on issues like resources for a country like Libya or spending on diplomatic security also shares in the blame for the Benghazi tragedy, Clinton said, “We have to get our act together.”
The testiest exchange in the Senate testimony came when Sen. Ron Johnson (R) of Wisconsin told Clinton that had it wanted to, the administration could have “easily, easily” ascertained within hours that Benghazi was not the result of a demonstration. Instead, he said, “we were misled that there were supposedly protests and something sprang out of that.”
Clinton raised her hands – and her voice – responding angrily that four Americans were dead, adding, “Was it because of a protest or is it because of guys out for a walk one night and they decide they go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”
The committee’s Democratic senators had their own refrain to cite in response to their Republican colleagues’ repeated assertion that the American people were “misled” on Benghazi. For every reference to “false information” on Benghazi, the Democrats responded with reminders of the Bush administration’s insistence on the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – weapons that turned out not to exist – as a pretext for going to war.
Sen. Dick Durban (D) of Illinois, citing the Iraq WMD claims and asking rhetorically if “the American people [are always] told correct information right away,” added, “We could have a hearing on that.”