January 24, 2013

In Focus: Clinton spars with panel over Benghazi attack

Visibly annoyed and with her voice rising in anger, she defends the administration's response in Libya.

By DONNA CASSATA and MATTHEW LEE The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Hillary Rodham Clinton
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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Photos by The Associated Press

Hillary Rodham Clinton
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"I did not see these requests. They did not come to me. I did not approve them. I did not deny them," she said.

Later, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina repeatedly challenged Clinton's claim to have looked at the tragedy with "clear eyes," saying she should have personally ensured security at the mission.

He said Clinton had "let the consulate become a death trap" in denying requests for additional security and called it "malpractice."

Clinton said she could have let the review board's report remain classified and told Congress "goodbye" before leaving office. But she said, it's "not who I am. It's not what I do."

Absent from the Senate hearing was Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the man tapped to succeed Clinton, who is leaving the administration after four years. Kerry, defeated by George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election, is expected to win swift Senate approval. Clinton is to introduce him at his confirmation hearing on Thursday.

Politics play an outsized role in any appearance by Clinton, who was defeated by Obama in a hard-fought battle for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. She is the subject of constant speculation about a possible bid in 2016.

A former New York senator and the wife of former President Bill Clinton, she is a polarizing figure but is ending her tenure at the State Department with high favorability ratings.

A poll last month by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found 65 percent of Americans held a favorable impression of her, compared with 29 percent unfavorable.

On the panel at the Senate hearing were two possible 2016 Republican presidential candidates - Florida's Marco Rubio and Paul, a new member of the committee - as well as John McCain of Arizona, who was defeated by Obama in November 2008.

Clinton, 65, did little to quiet the presidential chatter earlier this month when she returned to work after her hospitalization.

On the subject of retirement, she said, "I don't know if that is a word I would use, but certainly stepping off the very fast track for a little while."

 

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Additional Photos

Hillary Rodham Clinton
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Hillary Rodham Clinton, Robert Menendez, Bob Corker
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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, back to camera, tangles with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., left, and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

 


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