In Libya Attack, Clinton Takes Responsibility for Security
By Alex Johnston On October 17, 2012 @ 12:39 am In Middle East | No Comments
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her office was responsible for security at the consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi where U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack in September.
“I take responsibility,” she told CNN in a televised interview Tuesday.
“I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals,” Clinton said. “They’re the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision.”
The attack on the Benghazi consulate and President Barack Obama’s response to the matter have become a topic of debate in the U.S. presidential campaign. Republican challenger Mitt Romney panned the Obama administration for not providing enough security at the consulate.
Initially, the White House said that the attack was carried out by an angry mob who were demonstrating against American interests outside of the consulate over the crudely made “Innocence of Muslims” film that sparked protests in other Muslim countries. Later, however, the Obama administration backtracked on that statement and said it appeared to have been a terrorist attack.
The Libyan government has arrested dozens in relation to Stevens’s death, while in late September it ordered the dissolution of all militias that are not sanctioned by the government.
Clinton, who said she took the incident “very personally,” told CNN that an investigation into the matter is still underway and will reveal the culprits in the attack.
“So we’re going to get to the bottom of it, and then we’re going to do everything we can to work to prevent it from happening again, and then we’re going to work to bring whoever did this to us to justice,” she said.
On Monday, Clinton told ABC News that after the fall of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi last year, there likely was an increase in Islamist extremism due to a security gap while the country rebuilds itself after its civil war.
“There were so many militias that had formed in the wake of the revolution, there were so many weapons in the country. So it was something that we were very focused on and working on,” Clinton said.
She said disarming the militias has been a difficult process in Libya because of the lack of military institutions.
“There was no institutional, professional army. And we face a very challenging environment in Libya, as does the new Libyan government, who we are certainly trying to support,” she told Fox News.
Longtime Republican Sen. John McCain and three other Republican senators noted that Clinton’s comments were “a laudable gesture,” but pinned the responsibility for security on Obama, saying that he would have known about previous attacks in Benghazi this year, and should have stepped up security, according to a statement.
“The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the commander in chief. The buck stops there,” the statement said.
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