After delays due to health concers, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finally appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee to answer questions about the security failures, for which she has accepted responsibility, at the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya that ultimately cost the lives of four American citizens, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
While Republicans on the committee where hoping to get answers, Clinton, who will soon be leaving her post, showed a lot of emotion in fighting back accusations that the State Department didn’t do its job. During an exchange with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who had said that UN Ambassador Susan Rice misled the public by claiming that the incident was a protest gone awry, Clinton sharply responded, “Whether it was attack preplanned by terrorists or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill Americans — what difference does it make?”
Instead, Clinton said, the lesson that Washington should be coming away with is “to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.”
Clinton’s response was adequate enough for the media, which focused on her comments more so than the valid points raised about the post-Benghazi narrative by Johnson. The “spontaneous protest” narrative created after the incident was used for five days by Rice, even after it became clear that what happened at the consulate was a terrorist attack. Clinton reiterated earlier comments that she wasn’t involved in the “talking points process” after the attack.
The most interesting comments from the day came from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), in what could have been a preview of the 2016 presidential race (Clinton is thought to be a likely candidate for the Democratic nomination). “Had I been president at the time and I had found that you had not read the cables from Benghazi, you had not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post,” Paul bluntly told Clinton. “Not to know of the requests for security really, I think, cost these people their lives.”
Here’s the exchange:
Despite Clinton’s testimony on the Hill yesterday, Americans aren’t any closer to receiving answers than they were before. Clinton reminded us once again that she is a skillful politican who will be a formidable opponent in 2016.