Benghazi Attack: Hillary Clinton Endures 11-Hour Hearing before Congressional Committee
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has endured an 11-hour hearing before a congressional committee over the 2012 deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Hillary Clinton said she took responsibility and introduced reforms after the attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
She deflected criticism that she did not do enough to protect the mission.
Hillary Clinton’s Democrat party says the Republican-led panel is a witch-hunt trying to harm her presidential bid.
Despite the committee sitting in four consecutive hours-long sessions on October 22, the hearing yielded little new information.
Hillary Clinton remained composed during the highly-anticipated testimony, amid several heated exchanges between Republicans and her Democrat allies.
In her opening statement, Hillary Clinton said she had asked Chris Stevens to go to Libya as US envoy.
“After the attacks I stood next to President Obama as Marines carried his casket,” she said.
“I took responsibility, and as part of that before I left office I launched reforms to better protect our people in the field and help reduce the chance of another tragedy happening in the future.”
Hillary Clinton said her appearance was her way of honoring the lives lost, and she called on those present to put national security above partisan politics.
Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, seated next to the chairman, said Republicans were wasting taxpayer money in an effort to derail Hilalry Clinton’s presidential campaign.
However, Trey Gowdy denied his committee was going after Hillary Clinton.
Instead, Trey Gowdy said, it was looking for the truth behind the diplomatic compound’s unsuccessful requests for more security and personnel in the build up to the attacks.
There have already been seven congressional investigations into the attack, by suspected Islamist militants, on the US compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi on September 11, 2012.
The raid led to the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other US embassy staff.
Hillary Clinton said Chris Stevens was well aware of the risks of his job but withdrawing American presence from Libya would have been a mistake, she said.
“To retreat from the world is not an option. America cannot shrink from our ability to lead.”
When the US pulls out of places, extremists gain a foothold, Hillary Clinton added, although she did admit that security requests made by the Benghazi consulate were not met.
An independent review board found deficiencies within the State Department that the Obama administration has tried to fix, Hillary Clinton said.
Observers say this was a key moment for Hillary Clinton, who solidified her position as the Democrats’ frontrunner for presidential candidate after her potential rival, VP Joe Biden, ruled himself out of the race on October 21.
The Republicans on the committee were also under pressure to prove they had good reason to bring Hillary Clinton before them, and were not just using it as an excuse to undermine her presidential candidacy.
One thing that was unearthed by the committee’s work was Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, which has dogged her 2016 campaign ever since.