Tags: clinton | libya | responsibility | stevens | obama | biden

Hillary Clinton: 'I Take Responsibility' for Libya Failings

Monday, 15 Oct 2012 09:53 PM

By Todd Beamon

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assumed responsibility on Monday for the security failures that resulted in the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed four Americans – but said the “fog of war” led to the White House’s shifting explanations for the assault.

"I take responsibility," Clinton told CNN after she arrived for a visit in Lima, Peru. The interview was the first Clinton had given about the assault in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and four other U.S. citizens.

The Obama administration initially attributed the attacks to anti-Muslim sentiment toward a film made by a California real estate developer. It later became clear that intelligence officials suspected that the assault was terrorism, and officials now have linked the attack to al-Qaida cells in North Africa.

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Beating back attacks of a cover-up by the White House, Clinton attributed the administration's shifting story to "the confusion you get in any type of combat situation."

"Remember, this was an attack that went on for hours," Clinton told Fox News, also in Lima. "There had to be a lot of sorting out. ... Everyone said, ‘Here's what we know, subject to change.’"

Last week, Biden said during the vice presidential debate that the White House did not know that requests had been made for more security at Benghazi. The revelation contradicted testimony by State Department employees that queries were made and rejected – setting off a barrage of criticism of the Obama administration.

But the White House said after the debate that Obama and Biden did not know of the inquiries. They were handled, as is standard practice, by the State Department.

Clinton insisted on Monday – "I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha," she told CNN – adding that diplomatic security decisions are made by her department. That is standard practice.

"I'm responsible for the State Department, for the more than 60,000 people around the world," Clinton told Fox. "The decisions about security are made by security professionals. But we're going to review everything to be sure we're doing what needs to be done in an increasingly risky environment."

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Clinton also discussed a June explosion at the Benghazi consulate that some have said should have raised security concerns.

"I can't speak to who knew what," she told Fox. "We knew there were security breaches and problems throughout Libya. That's something that came about as the aftermath of the revolution to topple Qaddafi, with so many militias formed, so many weapons loose. ... It was taken into account by security professionals as they made their assessments."

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