Hillary Clinton has told a Congressional committee that she took responsibility after the 2012 attack on US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
The Democratic presidential hopeful added that as secretary of state she introduced reforms to protect diplomatic staff after the attack.
Committee chairman Trey Gowdy said: “We owe them [the victims] the truth.”
Hillary Clinton’s party says the Republican-led panel is a witch-hunt trying to harm her presidential bid.
In her opening statement at the congressional hearing, Hillary Clinton said she had asked Chris Stevens to go to Libya as US ambassador.
“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 Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
However, Trey Gowdy denied his committee was going after Hillary Clinton.
Instead, he 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.
“To retreat from the world is not an option. America cannot shrink from our ability to lead,” she said.
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 is 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 22.
Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the House of Representatives Select Committee on Benghazi could further strengthen her position or raise doubts about her suitability as a presidential nominee.
More than 3,000 pages of emails from the private server former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used while in office have been released by the State Department on June 30.
The correspondence, released online, covers March through December 2009.
Among the 1,900 emails released by the State Department, on July 11, 2009, Hillary Clinton received an email from “Jimmy” — presumably former President Jimmy Carter — titled “N. Korea.”
The message seems to be about freeing journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were charged and held with illegal passage into North Korea. It read:
The message read: “Hillary: As I explained to you on the phone, I don’t think it is appropriate to tell them that I will come only if they agree in advance to release the women. Your response was, in effect, <<They have already agreed.>> Is this correct? If not, I will go, by commercial airline if necessary, representing The Carter Center, and try to induce them to approve the release. JC”
Hillary Clinton forwarded the message onto a redacted email account with the comment “fyi.”
In May 2015, a District of Columbia judge ordered the State Department to release Hillary Clinton’s emails in batches ever 30 days, rejecting an agency plan to roll them out in early 2016.
The release will meet the court’s mandate that it match at least 7% of Hillary Clinton’s message traffic, department spokesman John Kirby said during a press briefing on June 30.
John Kirby tried to explain away the strange timing of the release.
“You have to understand the enormity of the task here. It is a lot of stuff to go through,” he told reporters, adding the agency was “working right up to the deadline” to get the emails out.
Questions over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server while serving as secretary of State have dogged her candidacy since she entered the White House race in April.
Also on June 30, the State Department handed over 3,600 pages of correspondence to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in the attacks on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
The emails from Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations at the time of the deadly 2012 assault, and former Hillary Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan were provided under a subpoena the GOP-controlled panel issued in March.
In a letter accompanying the document delivery, Hillary Clinton’s old agency said that “to the extent the materials produced relate to your inquiry, we do not believe they change the fundamental facts of the attacks on Benghazi”.
Benghazi attack suspect Ali Awni al-Harzi has been killed in an US airstrike in Iraq, the Pentagon says.
Ali Awni al-Harzi died on June 15 in the city of Mosul, which is controlled by ISIS, the Pentagon adds.
He was designated as a terrorist by the US Treasury and state department.
The US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was among four Americans killed in the Benghazi attacks in September 2012.
US officials blamed the attack on militants linked to al-Qaeda.
The Pentagon described Ali Awni al-Harzi as “a person of interest” in the attack on the US compound.
It said he was an organizational intermediary who operated closely with extremists linked to ISIS or ISIL throughout North Africa and the Middle East.
“His death degrades ISIL’s ability to integrate North African jihadists into the Syrian and Iraqi fight and removes a jihadist with long ties to international terrorism,” Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has responded to a growing controversy over using her private email account for government business.
Hillary Clinton urged officials to release those emails, tweeting: “I want the public to see my email.”
This came after her emails were subpoenaed by a congressional committee investigating the deadly attack on the US embassy in Benghazi in 2012.
The state department is examining Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email account as a possible breach of federal law.
The controversy has put Hillary Clinton under pressure as she is widely believed to be planning a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.
In the tweet, Hillary Clinton wrote: “I asked State to release them [emails]. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.”
It was revealed on March 4 that Hillary Clinton had her own internet server at her home in New York.
As the secretary of state in 2009-2013, Hillary Clinton did not have a government email address, the US state department told The New York Times.
Government watchdogs and former officials from the National Archives and Records Administration told the newspaper that Hillary Clinton’s use of private email alone, without any government account, was a serious breach.
Others cited concerns that a personal email account could be vulnerable to hackers.
The matter has been complicated by Associated Press reports that an internet server was registered under the name of Eric Hoteham at Hillary Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, New York.
The correspondence of federal officials is considered government records under federal law and Hillary Clinton has already had to hand over 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department.
On March 3, Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton, declined to say why she used a personal account at the state department, but defended its use.
Hillary Clinton had complied with the “letter and spirit of the rules”, Nick Merrill said.
Her tweeted statement came just hours after the Republican-led congressional committee had demanded that Hillary Clinton turn over all emails relating to the Benghazi attack in which US ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed.
The chairman of the Benghazi committee, Trey Gowdy, told reporters: “I want the documents. Sooner rather than later.”
Democrats on the committee have criticized the decision arguing it is a politically-motivated hunt by Republicans.
“Everything I’ve seen so far has led me to believe that this is an effort to go after Hillary Clinton, period,” said Elijah Cummings.
The Benghazi report has found no wrongdoing by the Obama administration in responding to the deadly 2012 attack on the US consulate in Libya.
The inquiry by the Republican-run House Intelligence Committee also said there was no intelligence failure and no delay in sending a CIA rescue team.
The Obama administration had been accused of mishandling its response.
Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, died in the raid carried out by Islamist militants.
In a report released on November 21, the committee dismissed a claim that the CIA had not provided adequate security for its own agents near the Benghazi consulate and that the Obama administration had failed to send support.
It said it reached its conclusion based on “thousands of hours of detailed investigation” and interviews with senior American officials and the agents who had been on the ground during the attack on September 11, 2012.
“The CIA ensured sufficient security for CIA activities in Benghazi and, without a requirement to do so, ably and bravely assisted the state department on the night of the attacks,” the report said.
“Appropriate US personnel made reasonable tactical decisions that night, and the committee found no evidence that there was a stand-down order or a denial of available air support.
“The CIA received all military support that was available.”
However, the Benghazi report concluded that the mission had inadequate security and therefore had required CIA assistance.
Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected ringleader of the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, has appeared amid tight security at a US federal courthouse in Washington DC.
Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured by US forces in Benghazi on June 18.
He denied a raft of terrorism-related charges. He says he was in Benghazi during the attack on the US consulate but that he did not take part.
Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured by US forces in Benghazi (photo AP)
The US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other people were killed in the September 2012 attack.
Ahemed Abu Khattala was charged with providing material support and resources to terrorists including himself; killing a person on a federal facility; and damaging property of the US by fire and explosives resulting in death.
The next hearing was set for July 8.
American media reported that Ahmed Abu Khattala was brought to court in Washington from a US Navy warship where he had been held since being captured two weeks ago.
The US has described Ahmed Abu Khattala as “key figure” in the attack on the consulate.
President Barack Obama praised the raid which led to his capture earlier this month.
Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected ringleader of the September 2012 raid on a US diplomatic post in the Libyan city of Benghazi, that left four Americans dead, has been captured, the Pentagon says.
Ahmed Abu Khattala was taken into custody in a secret US military raid in Libya on June 15.
He is now being held in a secure location outside the country, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed.
US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed in the attack.
“There were no civilian casualties related to this operation, and all US personnel involved in the operation have safely departed Libya,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm John Kirby wrote in a statement.
Benghazi attack lead suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala was taken into custody in a secret US military raid in Libya on June 15
After the announcement, President Barack Obama praised the courage and professionalism of the military, law enforcement and intelligence personnel who tracked and captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, who the US describes as a “key figure” in the attack.
“With this operation, the US has once again demonstrated that we will do whatever it takes to see that justice is done when people harm Americans,” he said in a White House statement.
Ahmed Abu Khattala would face the “full weight of the American justice system”, he said, an indication the US will try him in a civilian court rather than hold him at the military detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In August, the New York Times reported that federal prosecutors had prepared secret charges against him, accusing him of murder for his role in the attack.
On September 11, 2012, gunmen stormed the US consulate in Benghazi and set it on fire.
In addition to Chris Stevens, information technology specialist Sean Smith and security workers and ex-Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed.
The White House initially said the attack stemmed from anti-American protests over a crude video produced in the US that was deemed insulting to Islam.
Government investigators soon determined it was an organised attack planned by local militias, although the New York Times claimed after an extensive investigation that some of the attackers were indeed motivated by the film.
The US quietly offered as much as $10 million for information in the months following the attack.
In subsequent years, the incident has become a political lightening rod, with Republicans accusing President Barack Obama’s administration of covering up the involvement of militant groups in the days after the attack in order to assist Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
Susan Rice, who is hotly tipped to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has admitted releasing incorrect information after September’s attack on the American consulate in Libya.
UN Ambassador Susan Rice said there had been no attempt to mislead the public, but Republicans were unconvinced.
After meeting Susan Rice on Tuesday, senators said they were troubled.
The envoy said her initial line that the Benghazi attack appeared to have sprung from a protest had been wrong.
The September 11 assault on the US consulate triggered a major political row over who knew what and when.
Days afterwards, Susan Rice, 48, said in a series of TV interviews that it seemed to have developed out of protests over an anti-Islamic film.
Later intelligence reports suggested it was possibly tied to al-Qaeda affiliates.
On Tuesday, Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte met privately with Ms Rice and acting CIA Director Michael Morell to discuss the attack.
Susan Rice has admitted releasing incorrect information after September’s attack on the American consulate in Libya
After the meeting on Capitol Hill, Susan Rice said: “The talking points provided by the intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based, were incorrect in a key respect: there was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi.
“While we certainly wish that we had had perfect information just days after the terrorist attack, as is often the case the intelligence assessment has evolved.”
But the Republicans said questions remained unanswered.
Senator John McCain said: “We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn’t get concerning evidence that was leading up to the attack.”
Senator Lindsey Graham said that he was “more disturbed now than I was before”, adding that he would “absolutely” attempt to block any nomination of Ms Rice for secretary of state.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday there were “no unanswered questions” about Susan Rice’s response to the Benghazi incident, accusing Republicans of being obsessed with it.
Republicans are demanding a joint committee investigate the attack, which left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not expected to continue in the role for a second four-year term. The Obama administration would need the support of the Senate for any nomination to the post.
After winning re-election, President Barack Obama vigorously defended Susan Rice, calling Republican criticism of her “outrageous”.
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