During her final appearance on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took full responsibility for the actions of the U.S. State Department which she heads before, during and after the deadly terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya in September, 2012, and acknowledged there were security missteps and outlined steps taken to improve the security of American diplomats abroad.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Secretary Clinton vowed:
“Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger and more secure.”
U.S. Secretary of State Clinton revealed much about gaps in security abroad during her fiery and often emotional testimony testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans including U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens on the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In her heated response to questions from Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Secretary Clinton said there was too much focus on how the Benghazi attack was characterized and not enough on how to prevent a recurrence.
“What difference at this point does it make?” she asked, adding “with all due respect, there were four dead Americans.” Secretary Clinton further stated “It is our job to figure out what happened and to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Secretary Clinton warned during her five and a half hour testimony before both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee, of a “broader strategic challenge in North Africa and the wider region.”
Clinton warned of a “Pandora’s Box” after weapons from Libya turned up in Algeria and elsewhere, that represents a major security threat.
“The Arab Spring has ushered in a time when al Qaeda is on the rise,” she said. “The world in many ways is even more dangerous because we lack a central command [in al Qaeda] and have instead these nodes that are scattered throughout North Africa and other places.”
In particular, Clinton expressed concerns about the size and topography of northern Mali, where well-armed Tuareg militia, who worked for former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, came home just as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) gravitated toward the area.
“we cannot permit northern Mali to become a safe haven.”represented a major security threat,” said Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton said she had accepted all 29 recommendations made by the Accountability Review Board she appointed following the Benghazi embassy attack.
To read the full report from the Accountability Review Board (unclassified) on the Benghazi embassy attack released in December 2012, CLICK HERE.