Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's claim Monday of responsibility for the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, saying blame for the security failure in Libya "does stop" with President Barack Obama.
"It does stop with the president, which she is not," Rumsfeld told Fox News' Sean Hannity Monday night. "On the other hand, the buck with respect to providing security is certainly within her area of responsibility, and it was a failure."
Rumsfeld was referring to Clinton's statement in which she claimed "responsibility" for the failure to defend against the assault that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
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"I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha," Clinton told reporters, referring to efforts by Republicans and the Mitt Romney campaign to undermine the president's re-election effort with charges of a cover-up.
Rumsfeld said Clinton's statement that the blame should go no further than her office does not dismiss "responsibility for the way the White House has tried to cover this up and to manage it in a way that suggested that at first . . . it was a YouTube [video], that it was not anything to do with 9/11, that it was not anything to do with a planned attack with heavy weapons.
"I think the responsibility for that, as well as the responsibility for the secretary of state not providing appropriate security, does, in fact, fall to the president," he added.
Rumsfeld said the security failure in Benghazi was indicative of what he described as other failures of administration foreign policy, ranging from unfinished trade agreements with Latin American countries to the lack of a status of forces agreement with Iraq.
Rumsfeld also said it was just "not believable" that there was so much confusion between the State Department, the National Security Council, and intelligence community about what happened in Benghazi.
But he added "it is probably credible that the president may not have known, at least for a period of day or so, because he went off to Nevada for a campaign fundraiser" right after the attack.
"Can you imagine?" Rumsfeld asked, saying the president's decision to continue with his campaigning rather than focusing immediately on responding to the attack "suggests that that was his priority."
"He, obviously, was dismissive of the fact that four Americans had been killed and we'd seen what obviously was a terrorist attack," Rumsfeld said.
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