The Senate Foreign Relations Committee finally got its chance at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We didn’t learn much other than Rand Paul is more crazy than his father and probably has delusions of presidential runs and even the senate has its group of Tea Party nuts.
As I have said many times since September 11, I take responsibility. Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure.Taking responsibility meant moving quickly in those first uncertain hours and days to respond to the immediate crisis and further protect our people and posts in highthreat areas across the region and the world. It meant launching an independent investigation to determine exactly what happened in Benghazi and to recommend steps for improvement. And it meant intensifying our efforts to combat terrorism and support emerging democracies in North Africa and beyond.
Let me share some of the lessons we have learned, the steps we have taken, and the work we continue to do.
Clinton had several fierce exchanges with some of the committee’s more right wing members who seem to embrace conspiracy theory more than truth. This exchange was captured by TPM.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday fired back at Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) over accusations that the Obama Administration misled the public by claiming the Benghazi attack was the result of a spontaneous protest. Johnson pressed Clinton on why the State Department didn’t talk to the U.S. diplomatic staff evacuated after the attack, to get clear information about what happened.
“Senator, when you’re in these positions, the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process going on,” Clinton said, adding that the State Department was waiting for the FBI to finish conducting interviews.
“I realize that’s a good excuse,” Johnson responded.
“Well, no, it’s the fact,” Clinton said. “Even today, there are questions being raised. We have no doubt they were terrorists, they were militants, they attacked us, they killed our people. But what was going on, and why they were doing what they were doing, is still, is still unknown.”
Clinton forcefully insisted neither UN Ambassador Susan Rice nor the Obama Administration misled the public. “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” she said. “Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this. The fact is that people were trying, in real time, to get to the best information.”
RAND PAUL: One of the things that disappointed me most about the original 9/11 was no one was fired. We spent trillions of dollars, but there were a lot of human errors, these are judgment errors, and the people who make judgment errors need to be replaced/fired no longer in charge of making these judgment calls. So we have a review board. The review board finds 64 different things we can change, a lot of them are commonsense and should be done, but the question is it’s a failure of leadership that they were not done in advance and four lives were [lost] because of this. I’m glad that you’re accepting responsibility. I think that ultimately with your leaving you accept responsibility for the worst culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11. And I really mean that. Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it’s inexcusable. The thing is that, we can understand that you’re not reading every cable. I can understand that maybe you’re not aware of the cable from the ambassador in Vienna that asked for $100,000 for an electrical charging station. I can understand that maybe you’re not aware that your department spent $100,000 on three comedians who went to India on a promotional tour called “Make Chi Not War,” but I think you might be able to understand and might be aware of the $80 million spent on a consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif that will never be built. I think it’s inexcusable that you did not know about this and did not read these cables.
Clinton tried to explain to the committee that their reckless budgets cuts undermine security in the region for our diplomats and facilities.
Citing a report by the department’s Accountability Review Board on the security failures that led to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, during an attack last year, Clinton said the board is pushing for an increase in funding to facilities of more than $2 billion per year.
“Consistent shortfalls have required the department to prioritize available funding out of security accounts,” Clinton told the Senate this morning, while again taking responsibility for the Benghazi attack. “And I will be the first to say that the prioritization process was at times imperfect, but as the ARB said, the funds provided were inadequate. So we need to work together to overcome that.”
Clinton, showing little effect from her recent illnesses, choked up earlier in discussing the Benghazi attack.
“I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews,” Clinton said this morning, her voice growing hoarse with emotion. “I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters.”
John Kerry was not present at the hearing to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest. The hearing was run by Bob Mendez instead.
Now, watch her face the really crazy in the house.