U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is taking
responsibility for security at the U.S. Consulate in Libya where an
attack by extremists last month killed the U.S. ambassador and three
Pushing back against Republican criticism of the
Obama administration for its handling of the situation, Clinton said
here Monday that security at all of America's diplomatic missions abroad
is her job, not that of the White House.
"I take responsibility,"
she told CNN. "I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus
people all over the world (at) 275 posts. The president and the vice
president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are
made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the
threats and the risks and the needs."
Only weeks before the
presidential election, the outrage has crystallized around Vice
President Biden for claiming in last week's debate with Republican vice
presidential nominee Paul Ryan that "we weren't told" about requests for
extra security at the consulate where assailants killed the Ambassador
Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
hearings revealed the State Department was aware of, and rejected,
several requests for increased security in Benghazi. Spokesmen for both
the State Department and the White House took pains Friday to make clear
that Biden's "we" referred to the White House, where such requests
would not go.
"In the wake of an attack like this, in the fog of
war, there's always going to be confusion," Clinton told CNN. "And I
think it is absolutely fair to say that everyone had the same
intelligence. Everyone who spoke tried to give the information that they
had. As time has gone on, that information has changed. We've gotten
more detail, but that's not surprising. That always happens."
She said: "What I want to avoid is some kind of political gotcha or blame game."
are three separate investigations into the attack going on now: an FBI
probe into the deaths of the four Americans, an independent inquiry by a
panel appointed by Clinton and the congressional hearings. Stevens was
among the four killed in the attack, which came on the anniversary of
the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Three Republican senators said late
Monday that Clinton's claim was "a laudable gesture," but they put the
responsibility on President Obama and his national security team.
the president was truly not aware of this rising threat level in
Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team,
whose responsibility it is to keep the president informed. But if the
president was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the
events of Sept. 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any
security failures that occurred," Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey
Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said in a