Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday she took responsibility for the devastating September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which the country’s Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was killed along with three other American staff.
In an interview with CNN, she said: “Look, I take responsibility. I’m in charge of the State Department, 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The President and the Vice-President certainly wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals.”
‘No blame game’
Ms. Clinton added that while the accountability review that she had ordered after the incident was under way, “I’m not going to get into the blame game either about what we don’t fully yet know from our own investigation... what I want to avoid is some kind of political ‘gotcha’.”
The incident has become a sore point for the administration after the Vice-Presidential debate last week between incumbent Joe Biden and Republican Congressman Paul Ryan saw the men trade barbs over whether there was advanced intelligence available on the attack, and whether requests for additional consulate security had been turned down.
During the debate Mr. Biden also unequivocally said: “We weren’t told they wanted more security again”, in the context of an imminent attack on the consulate, even as State Department officials based in Libya testified before the U.S. Congress that their requests to boost embassy security in Tripoli, not Benghazi, had not been fulfilled.
Related questions that have buffeted the Obama administration have focused on whether the White House was doing a flip-flop on the factors behind the violence in Benghazi, particularly after the initial suggestion — that it stemmed from protests linked to an anti-Muslim film — were was debunked.
Subsequently, it emerged that militants potentially linked to al-Qaeda and carrying heavy artillery were involved in the attack, although by that time, and as Mr. Ryan pointed out during the debate in Kentucky, the U.S. embassy in Cairo actually had put out a statement condemning the provocative film.