Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify before Congress on the events that led to the Sept. 11 attacks at the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
“As the nation’s top diplomat, she should therefore appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in both open and classified hearings to discuss the Accountability Review Board’s findings,” Rubio said in an opinion piece published by Fox News
“She should explain why her department failed to adequately secure the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi and what her personal level of knowledge was of Libya security deficiencies, warnings about which Deputy Secretary of State William Burns testified were circulated to the highest levels of the State Department, presumably including Secretary Clinton.
“More importantly, Secretary Clinton should elaborate on how the State Department plans to fix the broad systemic failures that the board identified.”
Rubio, a member of both the Senate’s Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees, referenced the report on the Benghazi attack released last week by the Accountability Review Board, a special committee empaneled to investigate the assault.
The report, he said, “lays out much that we already knew: this was the premeditated work of terrorists, not a protest about a YouTube video that spun out of control; the attackers employed military tactics and used rocket-propelled grenades and other heavy weapons; they also used simple weapons of opportunity, such as gasoline used to set the fire that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and Sean Smith.”
Smith was an information officer at the consulate. Former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods also died in the attack.
“The report also confirmed that the Libyan government was totally incapable of providing security for U.S. facilities in Benghazi and was barely even in control of much of that city and its environs,” Rubio added.
“The State Department’s naïve reliance on local militias of questionable capacity and uncertain loyalty was, in retrospect, a grave mistake. That we operated with a skeleton staff in such a precarious environment is clear evidence that we failed to connect the dots.
“That is a mistake we simply can’t afford to make again – in Libya or anywhere else with an American diplomatic presence,” the first-term senator said.
The assault also reflects an extremely flawed foreign policy by the Obama White House.
“The current administration unfortunately now has a record of frequently ‘leading from behind’ and standing on the sidelines as America’s enemies exploit our inaction,” Rubio said.
“Hopefully, one lesson of Benghazi will be that we need to fundamentally rethink this mistaken approach to foreign policy.”
The task of increasing security at U.S. diplomatic operations worldwide falls to the State Department.
“The State Department must adjust the security posture of diplomatic facilities in high-risk regions based on responsible, timely analysis of the best information available,” Rubio said. “We can no longer expect to rely primarily on host nations to protect American diplomats in all parts of the world.”
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