BY: Adam Kredo
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sparred with lawmakers Wednesday over what they claimed was the Obama administration’s bungled response to the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Clinton became visibly irritated several times as she rebutted claims by Republican senators that the Obama administration intentionally misled the American public about the specific events that led to the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) told Clinton that her response to lawmakers was not up to par.
“The answers your given this morning frankly are not satisfactory to me,” McCain said, chiding Clinton for failing to account for the administration’s lapses in knowledge.
“Were you and the president made aware of the classified cable from chris stevens that said that the united states consulate in Benghazi could not survive a sustained assault,” McCain asked. “Numerous warnings, including personally to me about the security were unanswered, or unaddressed.”
“What was the president’s activities during that seven-hour period?” McCain added, pressing for details. “On the anniversary of the worst attack in American history, September 11th we didn’t have Department of Defense forces available for seven hours.”
McCain went on to reprimand Clinton for arguing that it makes no difference whether the Benghazi compound was stormed by armed militants or attacked by protestors.
“I categorically reject your answer to Senator [Ron] Johnson about, well we didn’t ask these survivors who were flown to Ramstein [air base] the next day, that they—that this was not a spontaneous demonstration,” McCain said. “To say it’s because an investigation was going on? The American people deserve to know answers, and they certainly don’t deserve false answers.”
The American people were deceived, McCain maintained.
“Answers that were given to the American people on September 15th by the ambassador to the United Nations [Susan Rice] were false—in fact contradicted by the classified information which was kept out of the Secretary to the United Nations report who by the way in the president’s words had nothing to do with Benghazi, which questions why she was sent out to start with,” McCain said.
“Why do we care? Because if the classified information had been included it gives an entirely different version of events to the American people,” McCain continued. “If you want to go out and tell the American people what happened you should at least have interviewed the people who were there, instead of saying, ‘No we couldn’t talk to them because a FBI investigation was going on.’ ”
“The American people, and the families of these four brave Americans still have not got gotten the answers that they deserve,” McCain said. “I hope that they will get them.”
Clinton warned that America faces a “spreading jihadist threat” that is endangering U.S. assets across the globe.
Clinton became the latest in a series of high-ranking U.S. government officials to publicly recognize the immediate threat that terrorist forces pose to U.S. embassies and other American outposts in the Middle East and North Africa.
“We now face a spreading jihadist threat,” Clinton said. “We have driven a lot of the operatives out of Afghanistan, Pakistan, killed a lot of them, including [Osama] Bin Laden.”
“But this is a global movement,” Clinton said. “We can kill leaders, but until we help establish strong democratic institutions, until we do a better job with values and relationships, we will be faced with this level of instability.”
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