Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared before Congress on Wednesday to answer questions surrounding the September 11th attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed after militants attacked the consulate amidst protests against an anti-Muslim film. During her testimony, Clinton faced repeated attempts by congressional Republicans to blame the incident on alleged White House and State Department negligence. In one of several testy exchanges with Republicans, Clinton rejected Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson’s criticism of the administration’s initial handling of the consulate attack.
Sen. Ron Johnson: “Again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests and then something sprang out of that, an assault sprang out of that. And that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact, and the American people could have known that within days, and they didn’t know that.”
Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton: “With all due respect, the fact is, we had four dead Americans.”
Sen. Ron Johnson: “I understand.”
Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton: “Was it because of a protest? Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information.”
Clinton was making her last formal appearance before Congress before leaving the State Department. She is expected to step down as Secretary of State in the coming days once her successor, Democratic Senator John Kerry, is confirmed.