BY: Bill Gertz
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in congressional testimony delayed for several months amid charges of a cover-up, on Wednesday again took responsibility for the deaths of four Americans during the terror attack in Benghazi and defended the Obama administration’s shifting explanation for the Sept. 11, 2012, attack.
“As I have said many times since September 11, I take responsibility,” Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure.”
On the shifting accounts by the administration about the attack, the secretary of state defended the response, claiming she had called it “an attack by heavily armed militants.”
However, the cause of the attack and the identity of the attackers and their motives was unclear, she said.
“The picture remains still somewhat complicated,” Clinton said, adding that key questions about the perpetrators “remain to be determined.”
Clinton initially said in public statements after the attack that the cause was a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Muslim online video, a theme that critics have said fits the administration’s tendency to blame the United States, and not foreign Islamists, for sparking terrorism.
Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, were killed when several dozen armed attackers stormed and set on fire the diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
Although the attack was deliberate and coordinated, Clinton said it was not “indicative of extensive planning.”
A second attack took place at a CIA facility about a mile away. The CIA was reportedly involved in a covert arms program that may have involved shipping arms to Syrian Islamist rebels.
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