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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Testifies at the Hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Regarding Benghazi Attack
Aired January 23, 2013 - 14:11 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. ED ROYCE, R-CALIFORNIA: -- level below the department's most senior management. This seems to contrast with the recommendation of the 1990 -- 1999 Accountability Review Board on the East Africa bombings which said, that quote, the Secretary of State should take a personal and active role in security issues.
This committee is concerned that the department's most senior officials either should have known about the worsening security situation in Benghazi or did know something about that security situation.
Either way -- either way, the point is that security requests were denied. So I'm not sure the board -- I'm not sure the board here saw the full picture. And if not, it's report is not a complete blueprint for fixing things. The State Department must get this right. Al Qaida and its affiliates will very likely be targeting other diplomats for years to come.
Madam Secretary, the committee stands ready to help. I learned this morning that you and the administration have proposed legislation to fix the review board which the committee looks forward to considering.
Today's discussion may turn to funding, but when reading the conclusions of the board, one must ask how more money would have made a difference in a bureaucracy plagued by what the board called systemic failures. After all, as the security situation in Libya worsened, the State Department turned away free security assets from the Department of Defense. State Department officials have testified that funding was not an issue, more resources may have been needed in some areas but the tragedy of Benghazi was rooted in bad decisions.
Finally, the Benghazi perpetrators must be apprehended or they must be killed. It's troubling that Tunisia recently released a key suspect. Poor Libyan cooperation has hampered the FBI's investigation.
Success here is a matter of justice and it's also a matter of signaling to militants that there is no place for them to hide if they attack U.S. personnel.
I will now turn to the distinguished Ranking Member, Mr. Engel for his opening remarks.
ENGEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for holding this important meeting. I hope we can use this as an opportunity to seriously examine the steps we need to take to prevent a repeat of the tragedy in Benghazi rather than engaging in got you politics that make it more difficult to achieve this bipartisan goal.
ENGEL: Madam Secretary, as the new ranking member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, let me say on behalf of the Democratic members of this committee, we'd like to welcome you back to our committee and we're glad that you're feeling better.
This will likely be your final appearance before our committee and I want to take this opportunity to let you know how much we appreciate your outstanding and tireless efforts to represent our country in the international community. I have no doubt that you will continue to serve our nation in some capacity as you have for so many years and I look forward to working with you in the future.
And might I add as a New Yorker, I feel especially proud of the wonderful and outstanding job you've done as Secretary of State.
I think that when we look at the -- the outstanding Secretary of States in our -- in our history of -- of our country, you will be right up there at the very, very top. The way you've worked, the tireless effort you had, crisscrossing the global so many times, you have just been indispensable to all of us as Americans and I just want to -- want to thank you personally on behalf of all the Democrats and behalf of all Americans, Democrats and Republicans, we really want to thank you.
Mr. Chairman, the committee has no greater responsibility that making sure that the men and women of the State Department and USAID and other public servants who work abroad are provided the security they deserve. We must do that -- what we can to minimize the threats faced by -- by our diplomats and aid workers but we must also recognize that some risk is inherent in the practice of effective diplomacy.
We cannot advance America's interests around the world if we isolate ourselves behind embassy walls or limit the deployment of our diplomats to low risk environments. Let's not learn the wrong lesson from today's hearing.
ENGEL: The Accountability Review Board, or ARB, convened by Secretary Clinton found a number of failures that resulted from the lack of leadership in two State Department bureaus as well as woefully inadequate local security in Benghazi.
Clearly mistakes were made. But let's be absolutely clear. Barack Obama was not responsible for the Benghazi attack anymore than George W. Bush was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, or Ronald Reagan was responsible for the attacks on our Marine barracks in Beirut, which killed over 200 Marines.
And frankly, whether it was called a terrorist attack or not in the immediate aftermath, as far as I'm concerned, is irrelevant. We just have to make sure that it never happens again, so that in the future, our people are protected. That's what I want to get out of all of this.
So Madam Secretary, we commend you for accepting all of the ARB recommendations, and welcome your commitment to begin implementing them by the time you leave the department. Even before the ARB submitted its conclusions, the department moved to address certain shortcomings through its increased security proposal.
The vast majority of the funding for this proposal would come from funds previously appropriated for lower-priority programs. And I hope Congress will move without delay to give the department the transfer authority it needs to start applying these changes.
It is important to remember that security is not a worn-off (ph) endeavor. Indeed, it's a long-term responsibility and investment. In that context, the members of the ARB, led by Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen highlighted the State Department's struggle to get the resources it needs.
The ongoing problem had led to a culture at the department in which some senior managers appeared to be more interested in conserving resources than in achieving specific goals. The ARB report says, quote, "The solution requires a more serious and sustained commitment from Congress to support State Department needs," unquote.
Regrettably, it's clear the Congress is still failing to meet this commitment. In the most recent State Department funding bill, approved by the House Appropriations Committee, the administration's request for embassy security, construction and maintenance, was cut by $112 million, and worldwide security protection reduced by $149 million. The Senate, by comparison, did not cut either account. So let me again reiterate what I just said about Congress's responsibility. Over the past two years alone, the administration's request for diplomatic security funding has been slashed by more than half a billion dollars in Congress.
This makes it impossible for the State Department to build enough new secure diplomatic facilities, or improve those that already exist. The current appropriations bill for fiscal 2013 continues this negative trend.
The measure reported out of the House Appropriations Committee, (inaudible)-based funding for worldwide security protection, and embassy security, construction and maintenance, by more than $260 million. The Senate Appropriations Committee fully funded both requests.
So what I'm saying here is that we have much work to do to ourself -- for ourselves. If we truly want to maintain a global reach, then we need to make the necessary investments in safeguarding our personnel who serve in dangerous environments.
Mr. Chairman, you have indicated your intention to work on a State Department authorization bill. And I would like to work with you on a bipartisan manner to craft legislation that improves the department's ability to manage its resources, and provides the funding necessary to secure our people and facilities globally.
So I thank you, and I look forward to the secretary's testimony.
ROYCE: Thank you, Mr. Engel. To help us understand the State Department's response to the Benghazi attack, we are joined today by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 67th Secretary of State.
She has had a long career in public service. And for the past four years, Secretary Clinton has served as President Obama's secretary of state. She will soon move on to the next chapter in her distinguished career.
Madam Secretary, without objection, your full statement will be made part of the record. And all members here will have five days to submit statements and questions for the record, subject to the limitations of the committee rules.
Madam Secretary, please begin.
CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And I thank you, and the ranking member, and members of the committee, both of longstanding tenure, and brand-new members. And I appreciate your patience for me to be able to come to fulfill my commitment to you, actually to the former chairwoman, that I would be here to discuss the attack in Benghazi.
I appreciate this opportunity. I will submit my full testimony for the record. I want to make just a few points. First, the terrorist attacks in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four brave Americans -- Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty -- are part of a broader strategic challenge to the United States and our partners in North Africa.
I think it's important we understand the context for this challenge, as we work together to protect our people and honor our fallen colleagues. Any clear-eyed examination of this matter must begin with this sobering fact: Since 1988, there have been 19 Accountability Review Boards investigating attacks on American diplomats and their facilities. Since 1977, 65 American diplomatic personnel have been killed by terrorists.
In addition to those who have been killed, we know what happened in Tehran, with hostages being taken in 1979; our embassy and Marine barracks bombed in Beirut in 1983; Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, 1996; our embassies in East Africa, 1998; Consulate staff murdered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 2004, the coast attack in Afghanistan in 2009, and too many others.
But I also want to stress the list of attacks that were foiled, crises averted, and lives saved, is even longer. We should never forget that the security professionals get it right more than 99 percent of the time against difficult odds, because the terrorists only need to get it right once.
That's why, like all my predecessors, I trust the diplomatic security professionals with my life. Let's also remember that, as the chairman and the ranking member pointed out, administrations of both parties, in partnership with Congress, have made concerted and good- faith efforts to learn from the tragedies that have occurred, to implement recommendations from the review boards, to seek the necessary resources to better protect our people in a constantly- evolving threat environment. In fact, Mr. Chairman, of the 19 Accountability Review Boards that have been held since 1988, only two have been made public. I want to stress that, because the two that have been made public, coming out of the East Africa embassy bombings, and this one, our attempts -- honest attempts by the State Department, by the secretary -- Secretary Albright and myself -- to be as transparent and open as possible.
We wanted to be sure that whatever these independent, non- partisan boards found, would be made available to the Congress, and to the American people. Because as I have said many times since September 11th, I take responsibility, and nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure.
Now, taking responsibility meant not only moving quickly in those first uncertain hours and days to respond to the immediate crisis, but also to make sure we were protecting our people and posts in high- threat areas across the region and the world.
It also meant launching an independent investigation to determine exactly what happened in Benghazi, and to recommend steps for improvement. And it also meant intensifying our efforts to combat terrorism, and support emerging democracies in North Africa and beyond.
Let me share briefly the lessons we have learned up until now. First, let's start on the night of September 11th itself, and those difficult early days. I directed our response from the State Department, and stayed in close contact with officials from across our government and the Libyan government.
So I did see firsthand what Ambassador Pickering and Chairman Mullen called "timely and exceptional coordination." No delays in decision- making, no denials of support from Washington, or from our military.
And I want to echo the review board's praise for the valor and courage of our people on the ground, especially our security professionals in Benghazi and Tripoli. The board said our response saved American lives in real time, and it did.
The very next morning, I told the American people, and I quote, "Heavily-armed militants assaulted our compound," and vowed to bring them to justice. And I stood later that day with President Obama as he spoke of an act of terror.
CLINTON: Now, you may recall at this same time period, we were also seeing violent attacks on our embassies in Cairo, Sana'a, Tunis and Khartoum, as well as large protests outside many other posts from India to Indonesia, where thousands of our diplomats serve. So I immediately ordered a review of our security posture around the world, with particular scrutiny for high-threat posts. And I asked the Department of Defense to join interagency security assessment teams, and to dispatch hundreds of additional Marine security guards.
I named the first deputy assistant secretary of State for high- treat posts, so that missions in dangerous places get the attention they need. And we reached out to Congress, to help address physical vulnerabilities, including risks from fire, and to hire additional diplomatic security personnel, and Marine security guards. Second, even as I took these steps, I quickly moved to appoint the Accountability Review Board, because I wanted them to come forward with their report before I left, because I felt the responsibility, and I wanted to be sure that I was putting in motion the response to whatever they found.
What was wrong? How do we fix it? I have accepted every one of their recommendations. Our deputy secretary for management and resources, Deputy Tom Nides who appeared before this committee last month, is leading a task force to ensure that all 29 are implemented quickly, and completely, as well as pursuing additional steps above, and beyond the board. I pledged in my letter to you last month, that implementation has now begun on all 29 recommendations. We've translated them into 64 specific action items. They were all assigned to specific bureaus and offices with clear timelines for completion.
Nearly 85 percent are on track to be completed by the end of March, with a number completed already. But, we're also taking a top to bottom look to rethink how we make decisions on where, when and whether our people should operate in high-threat areas, and how we respond. We are initiating an annual high-threat post review, shared for the first time in American history, I suppose, by the secretary of State. And ongoing reviews by the deputy secretaries to ensure that pivotal questions about security reach the highest level.
And we will regularize protocols for sharing information with Congress. Now in addition to the immediate action we took, and the review board process, we're moving on a third front; addressing the broader strategic challenge in North Africa, and the wider region. Benghazi did not happen in a vacuum. The Arab revolutions have scrambled power dynamics, and shattered security forces across the region. Instability in Mali has created an expanding safe haven for terrorists, who look to extend their influence and plot further attacks of the kind we just saw last week in Algeria.
And let me offer our deepest condolences to the families of the Americans, and all of the people from many nations killed and injured in the Algerian hostage crisis. We remain in close touch with the government of Algeria, ready to provide assistance if needed, and also seeking to gain a fuller understanding of what took place so we can work together to prevent such terrorist attacks in the future. Now concerns about terrorism and instability in North Africa are not new, of course.
Indeed they've been a top priority for this entire national security team. But we need to work together to accelerate a diplomatic campaign to increase pressure on al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other terrorist groups in the region. I have conferred with the president of Libya, the foreign ministers and prime ministers of Tunisia, and Morocco. Two weeks later after the attack, I met with a very large group of regional leaders at the U.N., and was part of a special meeting focused on Mali, and the Sahel.
In October, I flew to Algeria to discuss the fight against AQIM. In November I sent Deputy Secretary Bill Burns on an interagency group to Algiers to continue that conversation. And then in my stead, he co- chaired the Global Counterterrorism Forum, that was held in Abu Dabi, and a meeting in Tunis working not only on building new democracies, but on reforming security services.
These are just a few of the constant diplomatic engagements that we are having, focused on targeting al-Qaeda's syndicate of terror. Closing safe havens, cutting off finances, countering their extremist ideology, slowing the flow of new recruits. We continue to hunt the terrorists responsible for the attacks in Benghazi, and are determined to bring them to justice. And we're using our diplomatic and economic tools to support the emerging democracies, including Libya in order to give them the strength to provide a path away from extremism.
And finally, the United States must continue to lead, in the Middle East, in North Africa, and around the globe. We've come a long way in the past four years, and we cannot afford to retreat now. When America is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences. Extremism takes root, our interests suffer, and our security at home is threatened. That's why Chris Stevens went to Benghazi in the first place. I asked him to go. During the beginning of the revolution against Gadhafi, we needed somebody in Benghazi who could begin to build bridges with the insurgents, and to begin to demonstrate that America would stand against Gadhafi.
Nobody knew the dangers, or the opportunities better than Chris. First during the revolution, and then during the transition. A weak Libyan government, marauding militias, even terrorist groups, a bomb exploded in the parking lot of his hotel. He never wavered. He never asked to come home. He never said, let's shut it down, quit and go somewhere else, because he understood it was critical for America to be represented in that place, at that pivotal time. So, Mr. Chairman we do have to work harder, and better to balance the risks and the opportunities. Our men and women who serve overseas understand that we do accept a level of risk to represent, and protect the country we love. They represent the best traditions of a bold, and generous nation. They cannot work in bunkers and do their jobs. But it is our responsibility to make sure they have the resources they need to do those jobs, and to do everything we can to reduce the risks they face. For me, this is not just a matter of policy, it's personal because I've had the great honor to lead the men and women of the State Department and USAID.
Nearly 70,000 serving here in Washington, and at more than 275 posts around the world. They get up, and go to work every day, often in difficult, and dangerous circumstances, thousands of miles from home, because they believe the United States is the most extraordinary force for peace, and progress the earth has ever known. And when we suffer tragedies overseas, the number of Americans apply to the Foreign Service actually increases.
That tells us everything we know -- need to know about the kind of patriots I'm talking about. They do ask what they can do for their country, and America is stronger for it. So, today after four years in this job, traveling nearly a million miles, and visiting 112 countries, my faith in our country and our future is stronger than ever. Every time that blue and white airplane carrying the words "United States of America", touches down in some far off capital, I feel again the honor it is to represent the world's indispensable nation.
And I am confident that with your help, we will continue to keep the United States safe, strong, and exceptional. And I would be very happy to answer your questions.
ROYCE: Thank you Madam Secretary. I think our State Department personnel do certainly accept a level of risk, and -- and they do so in order, as you've said quite properly, to continue to lead. But -- and we recognize I think, that hindsight is 20/20. But with regard to the Benghazi attacks, what is probably most disturbing, as the question comes before the committee, and as the media looks at the situation, the dots here were connected ahead of time. The State Department saw this risk coming, and the State Department didn't ask -- didn't -- didn't act in order to prevent what -- what could have been handled, probably, by answering the requests by our personnel.
ROYCE: So if we look at the State Department email exchange, on top officials in the bureau, written right after the assassination attempt on the British ambassador in June of 2012, here's the exchange. Quote, "This is very concerning when you start putting events together. The anti-American demonstration, the attack on our compound, and now the U.K. motor -- motorcade attack." "If the tide is turning and they are now looking for Americans, and westerners to attack, that is a game changer." "We are not staffed, or resourced adequately to protect our people in that type of environment." "We are a soft target.", end quote.
So here's the point. Senior officials fully appreciated the grave threats in Benghazi. They knew that al Qaida was there. They knew that our security was insufficient. But instead of adding security, in this case they took it away. They withdrew mobile security detachment teams. They sent packing a special team that the Defense Department provided, and provided at no cost. So if senior officials knew that our diplomats weren't safe and weren't adequately staffed, then why did they continue to withdraw security? I think that's the first question.
In testimony this morning you said you never saw those requests, and I understand that. Last month, though, Deputy Secretary Burns testified that memos regarding the deteriorating security situation did make their way to the 7th Floor to top management. So what senior official was he referring to when he talks about top management there? Who in the senior management was responsible for responding to those requests that were coming from the field? That would be my question.
CLINTON: Well, there is a lot of important questions in that, Mr. Chairman. And let me begin by saying that I was aware of certain incidents at our facility and the attack on the British diplomat. I was briefed on steps taken to repair the breach in the perimeter wall after the June bombing, steps taken to reduce off-compound movements.
Our team, led by security professionals, but also including intelligence professionals and others, did not recommend, based on those incidents, abandoning Benghazi. In part, because over the last years we have become accustomed to operating in dangerous places, in Pakistan, in Iraq, -- excuse me -- in Afghanistan and Yemen and elsewhere. And we do, as by necessity, rely on security professionals to implement the protocols and procedures necessary to keep our people safe. And as I said in my opening statements, because you know, most of the time they get it right.
But I was also engaged -- and I think this is what Deputy Secretary Burns was referring to -- in the issues related to the deteriorating threat environment, particularly in Libya. There were other places across the region. We were also watching to try to see what we could do to support the Libyan government to improve the overall stability of their country to deal with the many militias. We have many programs and actions that we were working on. I had a number of conversations with leading Libyan officials. I went to Libya in October of 2011. In fact, shortly before the attack on Benghazi we approved Libya for substantial funding from a joint State/DOD account for border security, CT capabilities and WMD efforts. So I want ...
ROYCE: I understand that concept.
CLINTON: ... to just clarify that there were specific instances and assessments going on, primarily by the security professionals related to individual posts, including Benghazi.
ROYCE: But what I saw was a communique which indicated that in fact those assets like the security site team were in fact pulled. You had free of cost here from the Department of Defense a team in place, and on about August 15th some weeks before the attack. The question is, can we extend that security team? And the answer is, no, it would be embarrassing to our agency if that agency is providing the protection.
That struck me as a little bit of the problem that we had before between the CIA and the FBI, between the two agencies that were more focused perhaps on the rivalry than they were on providing the security. And we're full circle now, based on the reading, literal reading, of those memos. Here you had the requests.
So that's my question. OK, they didn't come to the conclusion that we should increase security, but what about the question of having security actually withdrawn August 15th in terms of the security site team provided by the Department of Defense?
CLINTON: Well, again, I'm glad you raised that. The ARB looked into this, as it looked into everything. It does not even discuss the SST or recommend that our personnel on the ground should have asked for its continued deployment. And I think that's in part because the SST was based in Tripoli.
CLINTON: It hardly ever, less than 2 percent of the entire time that it was in Libya, did it even go to Benghazi. Its responsibilities, which were about the citing of and security of the embassy, were focused on Tripoli and it was not an open-ended arrangement, as it has been understood. It was intended as an interim measure and the experts who were there played vital roles. They were communication specialists, airfield specialists, trained medics. They helped to stand up our embassy in Tripoli when we opened it. And I think it's important that they were very helpful with the embassy, but at the end of the day they really were not focused on, nor did they pay much attention to Benghazi.
And I think since their primary mission was at the embassy, the embassy did acquire a lot of assets and that was the decision that they should not be extended for a third time.
ROYCE: Madame Secretary, thank you.
We're going to go to Mr. Engel from New York.
ENGEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Madame Secretary, you and the State Department have rightfully taken responsibility for what happened, convening the ARB. And you're implementing its recommendations.
But as I said in my opening statement, we need to be clear-eyed that there is blame to share right here in Congress. Over the past 2 years alone the administrations' request for diplomatic security funding has been slashed by more than a half a billion dollars in Congress, and the coming appropriations bill for fiscal 2013 continues this negative trend by slashing funding for worldwide security protection, embassy security, construction and maintenance, by more than $260 million.
So I'd like to ask you, Madame Secretary, do you think that Congress has provided adequate resources for diplomatic security in recent years? Can you talk about security priorities you have not been able to complete due to an inadequate budget? And what advice would you give the committee as it considers funding to protect our diplomats?
And I want to also add, what would happen even worse to the security of our diplomats and our diplomatic facilities if there is a sequester, or worse, a government shutdown? Has the State Department begun planning for the dangers of Congress not agreeing on a budget?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman Engel, this is a bipartisan problem. Since 2007, the department has consistently requested greater funding for embassy construction and diplomatic security. But with the exception of 2010, the Congress has consistently enacted less than requested. Most notably, in 2012, the department received $340 million les than requested, close to 10 percent less.
Now, over the last 2 years, cuts to the embassy construction, security and maintenance budget was almost 10 percent as well. Now, the ARB -- and I would refer to them, because you know, they had an independent view of this -- has recommended an increase in facilities funding to $2.2 billion per year to restore the construction levels that were called for in the 1998 ARB report.
But I think it's also fair to make the point the ARB made. Consistent shortfalls have required the government to try to prioritize. And the department has attempted to do that, but I do think that there became a culture of reaction. You know, as the ARB said, husbanding resources and trying to figure out how to do as much with as little as possible. And so, although our prioritization was certainly imperfect, the funds provided by Congress were inadequate. So somehow we have to work on both ends of that equation.
Now, what can you do? Well, first of all, we came up with a request to the legislative and budget staffs for transfer authority language. Namely, taking money we already had in this budget and letting us move it quickly to do what the ARB told us to do. More Marine security guards, more diplomatic security guards, more construction and upgrades. We were able to get that included in the Senate version of the Sandy Supplemental, which passed on December 28th, but we were unable to get the language included in the House version.
CLINTON: This is not new money. So first and foremost, I would greatly appreciate this committee weighing in, working with your counterpart in the Senate to give us this transfer authority. Otherwise, we're going to be behind the curve again.
Secondly, I think it's very important to change the laws about best value contracting versus lowest priced, technically qualified.
But statute, the State Department local guard contracts in dangerous places like Libya and everywhere else, except Iraq and Afghanistan must be awarded using a lowest price technically acceptable section process. We have requested a change in the legislation that would allow us to use some discretion to try to deal with the -- the -- the varieties and vagaries of these local guard forces.
We currently have in, as I said, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan but it's going to expire. So that's something else that I would respectfully ask this committee to look into.
And finally, the point that the chairman made and that you echoed, Congressman, an authorization. You know, working on an authorization, I was on the Armed Services Committee in the Senate, we did an authorization every year, no matter what was going on in the world. It was a great organizing tool. It made sure that our defense needs were going to be met. I believe that in the world in which we are living, our diplomacy and development needs are very important but we don't have the same focus and so, working with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on an authorization where you can look everything and you can have subcommittees, really delving into all of these different issues coming up with an authorization I think would be a great step forward.
UNKNOWN: Thank you. Thank you Madam Secretary.
ROYCE: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from New York.
ROS-LEHTINEN: Well we -- they eventually retired.
ROYCE: From Florida, they retire from New York to Florida -- from Florida.
ROS-LEHTINEN: We'll take them either way, it's New Jersey, New York, come on down.
Madam Secretary, thank you... CLINTON: There are a lot of New Yorkers already down there I (inaudible).
ROS-LEHTINEN: You bet, but you can only vote once remember, we're very, very picky about that.
Thank you for the positive working relationship that we have had during your tenure at the State Department. I request that I get written responses for the questions that I'm going to ask.
First, why were you not interviewed for the review board -- by the review board investigators? And how can this review be considered thorough when the person at the top, the Secretary of State was not part of the investigation? That's what was said in our open hearing when it was confirmed that you were never questioned for -- for this report and I -- I think that's outrageous.
Also, the State Department was clearly allowing the false narrative that department officials were being held accountable for what went wrong in -- in Benghazi for ignoring the threat and it -- it was perceived as -- as fact.
Look at these headlines, the New York Times, "Four are Out at the State Department After Scathing Report on Benghazi Attack." Not true.
"Heads Roll at the State Department." Not true.
Yet, State did nothing to correct the record. Here we are 130 days after the terrorist attack, why did you not take steps publicly to correct this false narrative even and up to including today? Even when your Deputies Burns and Nides testified before us, the both said that steps were being taken to discipline those State Department officials when in fact, no significant action had or has occurred. There's just been a shuffling of the deck chairs.
Do you find it acceptable that state officials responsible for this lack of leadership and mismanagement for ignoring a security request during the Benghazi attack and before remain employed within the State Department?
Also, the accountability report cites several systemic failures at the department that cannot be overlooked or ignored.
Given that state was aware of the dangerously declining security situation in Benghazi as pointed out by the chairman, the assignation attempt on the British Ambassador, other attacks on Western interests, why did state not immediately revamp our security protocols prior to the September 11 attacks?
Did state fail to act preemptively because it ignored the threat or did it fail to act because it was unable to recognize this growing pattern of violence? Either way, state did fail to act and these failures highlighted by the ARB report serve as a blueprint for -- for terrorist on where our weaknesses lie, where we are vulnerable. So what actions have you taken to ensure that when another embassy, another consulate sound the alarm on security threats as it -- as it happened in Benghazi that those requests are not yet again ignored?
And as we examine the willingness and -- and capacity of post- countries in the region, we must condition aid to these high threat posts based on their cooperation with the United States. I hope that we do that.
Now regarding the -- the state's request for -- for money, I think it's work pointing out that -- that some State Department officials have stated that budget constraints are not to blame for the loss of lives in Benghazi. However, the State Department is notorious for wasteful spending and continues to have misplaced funding priorities between the State Department, Treasury and USAID.
The fiscal year 2012 request for global climate change initiative is over $1.3 billion. Now what do we think or what do you think is a higher priority and a better use of -- of taxpayers' money, national security or global climate change? This money could have been used for embassy construction, for hiring more diplomacy security agencies -- agents for providing our posts and personnel overseas with adequate equipment and training?
So -- and there's more that I -- I can't get to but certainly, I would appreciate your written answers including the 64 specific action items that you will be taking on the taskforce recommendation and we look forward to getting a detailed report here in Congress on explaining their justification, their itemized funding layout, et cetera.
So thank you Madam Secretary for the time.
CLINTON: Congressman, obviously we'll answer all of your questions. Let me just comment on two of them, even though my time is run out.
First, I was not asked to speak with the Accountability Review Board during their investigation. The specific issues they were looking at regarding the attack on Benghazi were handled by security professionals in the department and that's where ARB focused.
Obviously, if they had thought that I was relevant or had information that would have helped the investigation, I would have gladly discussed that with them at their request.
Secondly, on the personnel, this is another area where I need your help.
First, all four individuals have been removed from their jobs; secondly, they've been placed on administrative leave. Thirdly, Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen specifically highlighted the reason why this has been so complicated.
Under federal statute and regulations, unsatisfactory leadership is not grounds for finding a breach of duty. And the ARB did not find that these four individuals breached their duty.
So fourth, I have submitted legislation to this committee and to the Senate committee to fix this problem so future ARBs will not face this situation because I agree with you, there ought to be more leeway given to the ARBs, but under current law, they were limited.
ROYCE: Madam Secretary, we'll be working to fix that problem.
Mr. Faleomavaega from American Samoa. FALEOMAVAEGA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member for calling this important hearing.
Madam Secretary, thank you for your most eloquent statements. Your service to our nation has been exemplary and outstanding and any suggestion otherwise during today's hearing, I would consider unfair and unwarranted.
We meet today under difficult circumstances. I am sure that when you, as Secretary of State, stood at Andrews Air Force Base of the transfer of the remains of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Mr. Sean Smith, Mr. Tyron Woods and Mr. Glenn Daugherty, you must have had tremendous or felt tremendous pain and suffering as we express in our Samoan proverb, (inaudible), meaning the stones and the earth wept.
Madam Secretary, please know that we were not -- you were not alone, we wept with you and with the families of our fallen heroes.
It is true that the Benghazi attacks is the first time since 1979 that an American Ambassador has been killed in the line of duty. But it is also true that the world has changed significantly since 1979 and consequently, the Department of State is increasingly operating in high threat locations throughout the world. This is why the Accountability Review Board rightly observed that Congress needs to make a serious and sustained commitment for supporting State Department needs.
FALEOMAVAEGA: But the F.Y. 2013 fiscal year budget, the House cut the administration's request by about $200 million. However, having been provided $2.6 billion in security funding, I wonder if the Congress had done its part and fulfilled its responsibility in providing the State Department with the necessary resources and funding to meet its needs, especially to provide security for our embassies and consulates throughout the world.
I agree with ARB's recommendations that we should restore the capital and security cost sharing program, which pulls money from different agencies in order to accelerate construction of new embassies and consulates. Madam Secretary, in honor of the lives of Mr. Christopher Stevens, Mr. Sean Smith, Mr. Tyrone Woods, and Glenn Dougherty, we need to -- we need answers so that we can prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.
It is no good for any of us to use this tragedy for political gain. This was a terrorist attack, first and foremost. And we must not lose sight of this brutal fact. Instead, we must hold together in our commitment to defeat those who would do us harm.
So Madam Secretary, I commend you for (inaudible) ominous diplomatic security an anti-terrorism act of 1986 and for accepting all 29 recommendations of the ARB commission. For the past 20 years you have served our nation well. You have done all you could do to deliver freedom safely to future generations. I salute you, and I look ahead to 2016, wishing you much success and extending to you my highest regards.
I do have one question,or a couple, if I have the time. Madam Secretary, I note with intrigue to one of your -- quotes, a -- a statement here that -- that this is why Ambassador Chris Stevens went to Benghazi. I want to get the sense that the commitment that our foreign service offices throughout the world is second to none, even at the risk of their lives. And I wish, and my colleagues would understand, yes, we have logistical problems, yes, we have funding -- but the fact that this people willingly did this, not only for their love of the leaders of the people of Libya, but because he was so proud to represent this great nation of ours. And I would like to ask you if you could elaborate just a little further what you meant by this, that Ambassador Stevens went to Benghazi, -- knowing the dangers, knowing the dangers were there, he went still. Could you please comment on that?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I think it is absolutely the case that we have a foreign service that is composed of men and women who take on these responsibilities because they love our country. They go in with their eyes wide open. They learn languages. They immerse themselves in cultures. They go out to the Foreign Service Institute and hone their skills. And Chris Stevens was one of our very best. He started off in the Peace Corps in Morocco, was a fluent Arabic speaker, had served with distinction throughout the Arab world. And when I asked if he would be interested in going to Benghazi, where we had nothing when he first went, where he, you know, bunked up in a hotel, we didn't have any support to speak of, he was thrilled. And he understood immediately what it would mean.
In the wake of this tragedy, this terrible terrorist attack, I think one of the most poignant events has been overlooked. And that is what happened after the Libyan people from Benghazi to Tripoli learned, that Chris Stevens, someone whom they had gotten to know, whom they trusted and admired, had been murdered. They went out into the streets. They protested themselves, thousands, tens of thousands, far more than the dozens of highly-armed, you know, invaders of our compound and our an annex. And they made it clear that that was not the kind of country they were trying to build. So in some way Chris's faith, after his death, was certainly validated.
FALEOMAVAEGA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Madam Secretary.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Smith of New Jersey.
SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome, Madam Secretary. You know, we all deeply mourn the tragic loss of four extraordinarily brave Americans, including our distinguished Ambassador Christopher Stevens. But one of my top concerns is that we seem to be relearning the same lessons again and again and again.
Madam Secretary, after the August 1988 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Admiral Krause (ph) sat exactly where you sit, that was 12 years ago, and the subcommittee that I chaired at the time, that, quote, "In our investigations, of the bombings, the ARB boards were shocked how similar the lessons learned were, to those drawn by the Bobby Inman Commission some 14 years before that." In other words, in 1985.
In direct response I authored a bipartisan law, the Admiral Nance-Meg Donovan Foreign Relations Act (ph) and in it we had a title, The Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999 to upgrade diplomatic security and residences, to improve threat assessments and facilities, emergency action plans, security threat lists, perimeter distances, setbacks, for example, crisis management training, diplomatic security training, rapid response procedures, storage or emergency equipment, like fire suppressant capabilities, and increased antiterrorism in Africa.
Before 1998 there were 1,000 security specialists. Today there are over 3,100. I agree we need more, but how present-day security personnel and assets are deployed are above all a leadership issue. And clearly we have and had the diplomatic security assets that could have been deployed to Benghazi.
When it came to you knew, Madame Secretary, and what requests were made of you and the department to beef up security in Benghazi, there are disturbing parallels to Kenya and Tanzania. Prior to East Africa terrorist bombings, U.S. ambassador to Kenya Prudence Bushnell repeatedly asked Secretary Albright for more security upgrades, and the ambassador's request was rejected and the loss of life, as we all know, was horrific.
There are numerous press reports that U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and his team made repeated requests for security assistance. So my questions are these -- one, you define taking responsibility for Benghazi in your testimony a few moments ago in terms and only in terms of during and after the terrorist attacks. What about before the attack on September 11th, 2012 -- 11th -- 12th. What did you personally and your staff -- when did you become aware of Ambassador Stevens' and his team's request for security upgrades? What exactly did do you in response? You obviously were very close to him. Did he ask you personally at any time? When you say a moment ago that Ambassador Pickering's ARB perhaps didn't think you relevant to be interviewed, you're the most relevant person of all. You're the leader. You're on top of it all. So, I would join with my colleague, Ileana Ros-Lehthinen, you should have been interviewed and very important questions asked. And were you personally in any way at fault?
CLINTON: Well, first, Congressman, I'm well aware of the work that you did after the 1998 bombings, and I think that work and the legislation that you championed has been very important in protecting our people around the world.
We have been not only reviewing but continuing to implement the recommendations of all the former ARBs, and the 18 previous ARBs resulted in 164 recommendations. And we have been very clear that the overwhelming majority have been implemented. A handful of such recommendations were, by their very nature, requiring continuous implementation, like what kind of security upgrades or radio communication was necessary. And there were a few that were only partially implemented because of some separate security concerns that that would have raised. But there was the need for ongoing funding. You remember that Admiral Crowe said, "we wanted $2.2 billion for building embassies." We had a number of embassies that were built in those early years, thanks to your legislation. Then it petered off. You know we put so much time and attention into Iraq and Afghanistan, trying to make sure that we secured our people there. We sent a lot of our diplomatic security personnel there. And so we had a slowdown over a number of years in our ability to build new Inman facilities, and now the latest ARB is saying, "let's get back and do this again because there's no substitute for it."
SMITH: I'm almost out of time. When did you become aware of Ambassador Stevens' request and did you respond to it? And did he ever personally ask you to be involved?
CLINTON: No, no and...
SMITH: You didn't get...
CLINTON: No. Any of the requests, any of the cables having to do with security did not come to my attention.
ROYCE: Mr. Sherman from California?
SHERMAN: Madam Secretary, it's a shame that this is your last appearance before our committee. And I would have thought that your last appearance would be a chance for us to review your outstanding record as one of our great secretaries of State. Whether it be leading efforts to enforce sanctions on Iran, your work supporting women's rights around the world, engaging with civil society, and restoring and maintaining American influence in a very difficult era.
And I would have thought that your last hearing would be a chance to -- to -- to give us some advice for what to do over the next -- over the next four years and beyond. I take seriously your very strong advice, because I happen to agree with it, that it's about time we pass an authorization bill through both Houses of Congress. But instead we're here on, I guess, our third hearing to deal with the tragic events in Benghazi because it is a chance for each political party to beat up on the other.
We can talk about how Republicans didn't provide you with resources. We can provide -- talk about the administration inside the -- the State Department, so I would hope that maybe we'd get you to come back again. I realize that would be gratis, you wouldn't even be on the government payroll at that time, and do the hearing that I'd like to have, which is getting your input on the bigger issues of foreign policy. Ultimately the security of our diplomats depends on the host country.
This is all a discussion about, well there might have been five security people on the ground, and if only there had been more funding, more deployment, this cable, that cable. Maybe there would have been eight or nine security people on the ground, which might have led to more protection, might have led to more causalities. And here in Washington, the decision was made to provide well more than 16 security people to Libya and nobody that I know of in Washington was involved in the issue of how many of those were in Benghazi, either going with the ambassador, or there in advance.
So the decision that all 16 weren't with him, was a decision that you can't blame either political party, or anyone in Washington for. Ultimately, all we can have at our embassies is enough to stave off a -- a militant attack for a few hours, and after that if the host country doesn't come to the rescue, it doesn't matter whether we have three, six, 12, 16, or 36 armed guards and -- and Marines at the location. One aspect of protecting our -- our diplomats in the future is bringing to justice the criminals who did this, this time.
We did a lot for the people of Libya. We did a lot for those who are now ruling Libya. How would you appraise their efforts to cooperate with us in the investigation? And does this Libyan government have the will, and the capacity to arrest suspects involved? And of course will and capacity tend to go with each other. I think they would have to at minimum, strain their capacity to try to arrest powerful, armed elements in the eastern part of their country. And I don't know if they have -- even if they have the will to use that capacity.
So can you tell us after the attack, and now that we're trying to bring these culprits to justice, what do you think of the Libyan government?
CLINTON: Well, I think Congressman you -- you drew exactly the right description. Is it -- is it will, or is it capacity when obviously what you need is both? I have found the Libyan officials to be willing, but without capacity. And part of our challenge is to help them build greater capacity, because now it's about them. You know it's not only about what happened to us in Benghazi, which every official in the Libyan government was deeply upset about, but they have their own problems now.
They're having leaders attacked and assassinated on a regular basis. So, we have to do more to help them build up their security capacity and again, I would ask this committee to work with us. There are holds on a lot of the -- the security funding that would go to Libya to assist then in building capacity. There are those, I know in the Congress who say, look Libya is a wealthy nation. We don't need to give them any money. Well, until they get up and going, it's in our great interest to give them the resources, like we have with other countries over the past 40 years.
ROYCE: We can go to Mr. Rohrabacher of California?
ROHRABACHER: Thank you very much Mr. Chairman and thank you for being with us today and putting yourself through this.
CLINTON: Thank you.
ROHRABACHER: Let me just note that fixing responsibility, which is what we are trying to do today, and identifying bad policy, and mistakes is the way that democracies fix problems. It is not all politics. It's how we do things here to make it better. So none of us have -- should -- should at all apologize for trying to get to the nitty-gritty. And let me just note that Assistant Secretary of State, Lamb testified here in Congress that budget considerations played absolutely no role in her decision, and it was here decision, not yours -- but you approved it. But her decision as to what the level of security would be there in Benghazi.
So, any suggestion that this is a budget issue is off base, or political. Madam Secretary, you told the Senate this morning that you learned about the attack around 4:00 p.m. on that day, and you were involved widely in the coordinated response, which included the Department of Defense and the White House, but did not speak to the president until later that evening. When did you talk to the president?
CLINTON: Two things. On the first point you made, Congressman, the ARB disagreed with that and did find that budget issues were at stake.
ROHRABACHER: Well, she testified under oath, and it was...
CLINTON: Well you know, that's why you have an independent group like an ARB. That's why it was created, to look at everything. So...
ROHRABACHER: Everybody has their own...
CLINTON: Right. I think it's important though, that...
ROHRABACHER: ...do here, but when about you saw the president? When -- when did you see the president, and...
CLINTON: I talked to the president at the end of the day, but I had been in constant communication with the national security adviser. I had been on secure video conferences with high level officials...
CLINTON: ...in the White House...
CLINTON: ...at the Defense Department...
ROHRABACHER: Secretary Lamb, the lady we were talking about did -- testified that she had actually witnessed this in real time -- the attack, in real time on a monitor. At any time did you see the initial attack on a monitor, with the president?
CLINTON: Congressman, there was no monitor. There was no real time.
CLINTON: We got the surveillance videos some weeks later. That was the first time we saw any video of the attack.
ROHRABACHER: So there was no...
CLINTON: I think there was a misunderstanding. I think that perhaps -- I'm -- I'm just trying to clarify this, I may be going beyond my brief here, but I think perhaps what she meant was...
ROHRABACHER: OK, so was there audio?
CLINTON: She was on an open -- she was talking to...
CLINTON: ...D.S. people who were trying to...
CLINTON: ...understand what was going on.
ROHRABACHER: Well, I will have to say that Admiral Mullen, in -- in briefing us suggested that there -- that they had seen some kind of video. And that within a few moments it was very clear that this was a very coordinated terrorist attack, and not some demonstration that had gone awry.
CLINTON: Well I think the surveillance video, which some of you may have seen...
CLINTON: ...in a classified setting, does...
CLINTON: ...demonstrate what happened that night.
ROHRABACHER: As you were dealing with the crisis as it went on, did you think, or act on the basis that this was a film protest gone out of control? And when you briefed the president, did you tell him that? Or did you tell him, which Admiral Mullen suggests you knew by then, that this was a well planned and executed terrorist attack? Which was the president told?
CLINTON: Well first of all, I said the very next morning that it was an attack by heavily armed militants. The president said that morning it was an act of terror. At the same time, however, I was dealing with protests against our facilities that were clearly connected to that video.
CLINTON: So we were -- we were managing a -- a number...
(CROSSTALK) CLINTON: ...of such... (CROSSTALK)
ROHRABACHER: Let's just say you noted, you noted that -- and they -- it can be -- you know people do this so that you can say that you said it, but the emphasis, we all remember what the emphasis was, over and over, and over again it was repeated that we had enraged the Islamic terrorists, which by the way, what's that do? When you say that we enraged the Islamic terrorists, that means we're at fault, they're not at fault. And then to look and see that the only people that I know are in jail right now is the filmmaker. Isn't this a little disconcerting?
CLINTON: Well first -- first, Congressman, I want to be clear that of course it was a terrorist attack. The very next day I called it an attack by heavily armed militants on our compound. I think there is still, however, questions about exactly what caused it, who the attackers were. The ARB, after months of research, said the picture is still very complicated. And I think it's worth members looking at both the unclassified and classified ARB with -- with that in mind.
ROHRABACHER: Thank you.
ROYCE: Mr. Meeks of New York.
MEEKS: Let me first thank you. Well, first I want to thank you for an extraordinary daughter, who came to the Rockaways after Sandy, just helping people, unannounced, without fanfare, just getting down and helping people because they needed help after that terrible storm. So just extraordinary public service.
And then I want to also say, Madam Secretary, that you have been a secretary of state, in an extraordinary time in the history of the United States of America and the world. And you have managed to challenge in an equally extraordinary manner.
When you took the job, America had a tarnished image abroad. You have revived our brand, traveled over a million miles to the furthest reaches of the world, to the most challenging areas, and touched the lives of the most vulnerable.
With your leadership of initiatives like the QDDR, you have deepened our confidence that foreign aid can be responsibly spent. On behalf of a grateful nation, and definitely the people of the Fifth Congressional District, I want to thank you for a job well done.
The attacks on our mission in Benghazi were a painful reminder to all of us that our diplomats, of course, are in harm's way, and they are in some of the same unstable, and even hostile environments, as our military. Yet, they don't have the same means of protecting themselves.
And sadly, we go back, and we talked, and I know that this committee, I heard Admiral Mullens (ph) and Ambassador Pickering say that money was and is in the budget, is very important, and makes a difference. Yet, and sadly, this House has failed to do its part in addressing the challenges they face, even after the tragedy of the Benghazi attacks. You, however, have been responsibly, and accepted the recommendations of the ARB, and put measures in place immediately after the September attacks, that demonstrate that you are serious about changing the status quo. But of course, again, it's a two-way street.
Congress has failed to act in a meaningful way. And I believe it's the same on the leadership for its failure to give the State Department the authority to transfer already-appropriated funds -- not new money. Already, money that you have toward funds -- towards bolstering security for our diplomats, to give you that discretion.
And shame on the House for its failing for -- failing to adequately fund the administration's request for diplomatic security funding. Now, I hope that this Congress will act swiftly to fix these critical funding matters. It's also my hope, as you've said, that we finally have a state authorization bill that the president can sign into law.
But let me ask you this question: At the time of the Benghazi attacks, you indicated there was risings (ph) going on in Egypt, and in Yemen, and in Tunisia. It seemed as though a lot -- because no one could have imagined -- and I'm sure you did not when you initially took office -- that we would have the Arab Spring, and the nation -- that what was going on in these various countries would happen.
I want to ask you a question, somewhat, I guess, what Mr. Sherman was asking. But because -- just to get your thoughts on what we might do as members of Congress, and how we might move forward with the nations of the Arab Spring, so that maybe that is a way that we can prevent these kinds of things from happening in the future.
CLINTON: Well, it's an excellent question, Congressman, and deserves a very thoughtful answer longer than the time I have. But let me just make three quick points.
First, we cannot retreat from, give up on, turn our backs on these new Arab Spring revolutionary countries and new regimes. They are very new. Most of them have leaders that have never run anything.
They have come from backgrounds where they are suspicious of security, because security was a dirty word. It threw them in jail. It, you know, harassed themselves and their families. So we have to do some work. And that work requires that we stay engaged.
CLINTON: Secondly, we have to do a much better job in helping rebuild security apparatus that can be used. Quick example: We had a terrible assault on our embassy in Tunis. And I called the president of Tunisia. I said, "You have got to send reinforcements right now. Our embassy is going to be overrun."
He sent it, it stopped.
The government really has been responsive, understanding that, you know, these terrorists, these extremists don't just threaten us in Western countries, they threaten the stability and the future of these governments. So we have to help them the way we helped Colombia 10 years ago.
And, finally, we need to do a better job conveying a counternarrative to the extremist jihadist narrative.
You know, I've -- I've said this to this committee before, a lot of new members on it -- you know, we have abdicated the broadcasting arena. You know, yes, we have private stations, CNN, Fox, NBC, all of that. They're out there, they convey information.
But we're not doing what we did during the Cold War. Our Broadcasting Board of Governors is practically defunct in terms of its capacity to be able to tell a message around the world.
So we're abdicating the ideological arena, and we need to get back into it.
We have the best values, we have the best narrative. Most people in the world just want to have a good, decent life that is supported by a good, decent job and raise their families. And we're letting the jihadist narrative fill a void. We need to get in there and compete -- and we can do it successfully.
ROYCE: Mr. Chabot of Ohio?
CHABOT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, first let me thank you for your service. And I wish you the best in your future endeavors. Mostly.
I've got a couple of questions, but I do want to take a moment or two to say a couple of words about our late ambassador, Chris Stevens. Many members and staff on our committee have had the opportunity to know and to work with him, even before he was named our U.S. ambassador to Libya. And I think all would agree that he was one of our most able diplomats.
I had the opportunity to meet with him in Tripoli a little less than a month before he and three other outstanding Americans were murdered in Benghazi.
His enthusiasm for the job was really something to -- to behold. He was excited about the opportunity to help a nation newly freed from decades of brutal dictatorship.
On my first night in the -- in the country, I had the opportunity to join the ambassador for a Niftar (ph) dinner with a number of newly elected Libyan parliamentarians. They were optimistic about building a democracy, creating a vibrant economy and restoring fundamental human rights for the Libyan people. And he was as enthusiastic as they were about the prospects.
There's no question that he'll be missed by all who knew him and -- and who worked with him.
One of the things that really troubles me, Madam Secretary, is the -- the hoops that we on this committee have had to jump through to get to the facts surrounding the deaths of these public servants. The State Department has delayed and delayed coming forth with information.
And when this committee was finally presented with relevant data, it amounted, oftentimes, to what might be called a document dump. Hundreds of pages of paper in wide disarray, in no particular order, either in terms of relevance or in chronology, often in duplicate but in different binders, making it very difficult to locate documents that were of any help.
Our public servants in Libya were murdered on September 11th. It's now January 23rd, more than four months later. It's -- it's unacceptable that the State Department has made it so difficult for Congress to exercise its oversight responsibility.
Now, a couple of questions. Within a couple of months of the attack, during the July, August period, Ambassador Stevens expressed concern about militia activity, particularly in Benghazi and the need for additional security assistance.
We've seen the cables where security officers on the ground expressed considerable frustration at the difficulty in getting the personnel they believed were needed to protect American diplomats and property.
And we now know that management of security personnel, especially the assignment of State Department agents on very short-term duty, virtually guaranteeing very limited institutional knowledge, was grossly inadequate. Why was the department hierarchy so obstinate? And why would the department deny a personal plea from Ambassador Stevens, given his expertise on Libyan affairs?
Why did the department senior leadership not take into consideration the approaching September 11th anniversary, particularly in light of direct requests from our mission in Libya?
CHABOT: And, finally, Madam Secretary, we've heard numerous times over the last several months that more funding is need for diplomatic security, Including in your testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and to some extent this afternoon.
I -- I don't believe there's anybody in this room who doesn't want to protect our diplomats stationed abroad, often in very dangerous regions.
Since 2000, Congress has provided funding in the neighborhood of $10 billion for embassy security, construction and maintenance. And we will, no doubt, continue to provide significant funding in the future.
Given that our nation now faces a mountain of debt, sadly I might add given short shrift I have to say by the president in his inaugural address. Of course, means that we cannot fund every single program that every federal agency requests.
So when we increase funding in one area, we have to consider cuts in others, at least that's the way it should work.
The State Department currently -- are they conducting any internal reviews, for example, to determine what offsets in current program funding might be considered?
And -- and finally, I know that some have been pedaling this story about it's Congress's fault for not providing sufficient funding for security. I would just note that Robert Baldray (ph) your Chief Financial Officer for Diplomatic Security stated, and I quote, "I do not feel that we have ever been at a point where we have sacrificed security due to lack of funding," and I note that I've used my five minutes, so I would appreciate your remarks...
ROYCE: The gentleman from Ohio as noted has used his five minutes and if we want to get through the members, we're going to have to hold to those five minutes. So I'll just ask for her response in writing and we'll go now to Mr. Deutch from Florida.
DEUTCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We don't have long because those are some good questions that I'll take up in a moment.
Secretary Clinton, first I'd like to thank -- thank you for the truly remarkable job that you've done as Secretary of State. You have represented the interest of this nation magnificently and I for one hope that after a bit of rest you will consider a return to public service and should that return bring you to Florida, I would look forward to welcoming you there.
I'd be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to once again thank you for your efforts on behalf of my constituent Robert Levinson who went missing in Iran in 2007, now 2,147 days ago and I ask that the department continue to do everything that it can to return Robert to his family.
I also want to thank you for the ways that you've handled the tragic events in Benghazi. your personal commitment to ensuring that those Americans who serve American interests overseas, often at great risk to themselves is a testament to the commitment that you've shown throughout your tenure at state to strengthen our diplomatic efforts around the world.
And I'd like to return to Mr. Chabot's question. Much of -- there is an awful lot of debate here on The Hill about -- about how we spend our -- our dollars. We all recognize that we have budgetary concerns. We also recognize that we have an obligation to provide security and to protect American personnel abroad.
And as we've ended our military operations in Iraq, as -- as we wind down in Afghanistan, what kind of -- I'd -- I'd like to ask what kind of strain will the presence of -- of less military personnel in the region put on diplomatic security? We'll start with that.
CLINTON: That's a very important question that we're really going to have to grapple with together, I would hope.
We saw, for example, that when our -- our troops withdrew from Iraq, it dramatically altered what our civilians were capable of being able to do because there had been over the course of the war in Iraq, a very good working relationship between DOD, state and USAID. We're going to face the same kind of questions in Afghanistan as our troops draw down from Afghanistan.
And in a lot of these places, we don't have military resources. You know, the Department of Defense was a very good partner to us in responding to Benghazi, but they're assets were too far away to make much difference in any timely fashion.
AFRICOM was stood up ten years ago, I think that -- that is going to look quite prescient because we're going to need to figure how to work more effectively together between our civilian and military assets in Africa and I think that would be a worthy subject of this committee, perhaps working with the Armed Services Committee because it's often difficult.
But we -- in my four years, we've tried to work out more cooperative relationships, more funding streams between state and DOD in order to be able to maximize the cooperation between us.
DEUTCH: When -- when you talk about the -- the need to prioritize because of shortfalls, more Marine security guards, talked about construction budgets and upgrades, what does that mean? What -- what are the decisions that have to be made and -- and how do they actually impact our diplomatic personnel?
CLINTON: Well, first and foremost, we have to do the right job prioritizing based on the resources we do have. And I would be the first to say, it's not all about money but it's also not without budgetary consequences. And so we have to figure out what's the right balance.
Secondly, immediately after this happened, I spoke with Secretary Panetta, Chairman Dempsey, asked the Defense Department to work with us in putting together interagency security assessment teams to go out and look at our high-threat posts, because our military brings a different perspective. And that was a very important process which we are going to continue.
We're also looking to see how we can better cooperate on the security aid that we give to other countries. It's -- it's got to be a combination of both military assets and expertise, but also development, rule of law, democracy building. It can't be one or the other. They have to be married together.
DEUTCH: And if you could, in the few seconds that we have left, Madam Secretary, could you just -- could you speak more broadly about the important role that that will play? In this budget debate that's going to take place, why is it so important for us to continue to fund this?
CLINTON: Well, let me just give you an example. Colombia -- you know, Colombia 15, 20 years ago was in a very difficult state. It had an insurgency. It had a drug cartel that was basically controlling territory. The United States stepped in, worked with the Colombians, and the progress, I think, is evident for all to see. There was a front page article in the Travel section about go to Medellin. I mean, it's -- that's what America can do. We don't do it ourselves. We partner with willing governments to help them acquire the capacity to protect their own citizens.
ROYCE (?): We go to Mr. Joe Wilson of South Carolina.
WILSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And, Madam Secretary, thank you for being here today.
I particularly appreciate your recognition of AFRICOM, Plan Colombia. Indeed, these have been extraordinary success stories promoting peace throughout the world.
The American people always appreciate its American heroes. Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
As we begin, I do want to point out, though, for the record, I believe that Congressman Rohrabacher is correct. There was an e-mail from the chief financial officer for diplomatic security following the Benghazi attack. Specific quote, "although diplomatic security has been fiscally prudent, I do not feel that we have ever been in a point where we sacrifice security due to a lack of funding," end of quote.
That actually is an attribute to you. And I have faith in the chief financial officer that it's a correct statement.
As we begin, it's been reported that since you managed the response to the Benghazi attack, why weren't you the person to appear on the Sunday shows immediately following the attack? Ambassador Susan Rice said that you declined. Was that correct?
CLINTON: Well, I -- I have to confess here in public, going on the Sunday shows is not my favorite thing to do. There -- there are other things I'd prefer to do on Sunday mornings. And, you know, I haven't been on a Sunday show in way over a year. So it just isn't something that I normally jump to do.
And I did feel strongly that we had a lot that we had to manage, that I had to respond to, and I thought that should be my priority.
WILSON: And -- and I believe that part of the priority is telling correct information, and you could have done that. And I think it was just very unfortunate, the multiple appearances by Ambassador Rice with information that's been discovered not to be correct.
In the November 21st, 2012, edition of the Charleston Post and Courier, a letter was published by William J. Boudreau, a retired foreign service officer of Seabrook Island. He wrote, "Within the U.S. State Department there's an office known as the OpCenter. It is located in the Office of the Secretary of State. It is staffed around the clock, 24/7 by seasoned foreign service officers. Its function is to be sensitive to any threat to American interests wherever they might arise. WILSON: The OpCenter has direct, secure communication lines to the White House Situation Room, the national military command center at the Pentagon, and the CIA's OpCenter.
Having worked as a watch officer at the OpCenter, I know that any information that indicates a threat to the safety of American citizens overseas is passed to other agencies mentioned above.
If it's a significant message concerning American interest received, it is the watch officer's job to ensure that these other agencies are informed. He goes on. There are many questions that need to be answered, and I'd like to present these questions on his behalf.
First and foremost, what was going on at the Op Center of the State Department, and Washington, while our consulate was under attack for seven hours?
CLINTON: Well, we can certainly give you greater details. But the Op Center is, as you have described, you know, the place where communications goes in and out. They were placing calls. They were receiving calls.
They were, you know, deeply engaged in trying to help us. They don't reach out on their own, but to help us acquire information so that we could respond in real time.
WILSON: And seven hours. I mean, goodness gracious, there should have been a response. Why the delay in labeling the attack as terrorism, when it was immediately known that it was?
CLINTON: Well, you know, again, I would say, Congressman, that we described the attack. I described the attack the next morning. The president called it an act of terror.
There was a -- as you'll find in reading both the unclassified and classified version of the ARB, there was a lot of questions about who was behind it, what motivated it. And the ARB says those questions are still not fully answered today.
WILSON: And he continues. Why weren't Marine guards posted in Benghazi in the first place?
CLINTON: Because historically, Marine guards are at posts where there is classified information. Marine guards have not historically had the responsibility for protecting personnel. Their job is to protect, and if necessary, destroy classified material. At our compound, there was no classified material.
WILSON: And he continues in line with everybody else, pointing out that there were requests to enhance security that were denied. We weren't able to reach all the questions. I appreciate you responding to Mr. Budrow's (ph) questions. I'll submit them for the record for your office for a written response.
CLINTON: Thank you, Congressman.
WILSON: Thank you.
ROYCE: Karen Bass of California.
BASS: Thank you very much. Thank you, Chairman Royce, and Ranking Member Engel, for convening this hearing.
Secretary Clinton, I want to take the time to thank you for your willingness to come before this committee for the final time. And I want to offer my sincere and deep gratitude for your remarkable service to our nation. I'm also very glad to know that you're feeling much better.
CLINTON: Thank you.
BASS: For the past four years, and well before, you have put country first. And for our nation -- and for that, our nation is indebted to you. With competence and careful consideration, you have shown extraordinary leadership on countless issues, ensuring that diplomacy is an essential part of our country's foreign policy.
And your tireless efforts to elevate women and girls' rights is without comparison. You have strengthened our State Department, made it better today than when you arrived.
As the ranking member on the Africa Subcommittee, I'm especially appreciative of the attention you've given to the 54 nations of Africa. While Africa may lose one of its most steadfast and dedicated champions at the State Department, I trust Africa will not be far from your thoughts, and will remain a top priority in your future work.
I also want to associate my comments with Congressman Sherman, who said that it's unfortunate that this is the last time we will hear from you. So I want to focus my time on moving us forward, and asking your advice.
You made reference in your testimony about best -- best-value contracts. And you mentioned, I believe, several nations where best- value contracts are not used. And in thinking about Africa, and the instability in a number of nations in Northern Africa, Central Africa, Mali, you know, what we're dealing with now, I want to know whether or not those nations are subject to those type of contracts, and whether or not exemptions or waivers should be made. What should we do?
CLINTON: Well, Congresswoman, thank you very much for your emphasis on Africa, which I think is going to be increasingly important. There are only three nations where the State Department has an exemption by Congress for using different contracting rules in order to get the best value for our country; those are Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
So every other country in the world, we are under the kind of contracting rules that I think do interfere with our capacity to get the best deal, particularly when it comes to security, that we should in these countries where the threats unfortunately are going to always be with us.
BASS: Should we look to extend that to Mali, to the DRC, to Somalia? CLINTON: Well, I would certainly recommend -- there was an article, I think in one of the newspapers today, that went into some detail. Basically, here's how it started: For more than two decades, federal laws required the State Department to select the cheapest, rather than the best contractor to provide local guard services at its embassies abroad.
And, you know, there's that old saying, "You get what you pay for." And this lowest-price provision started off in 1990, but it has just stayed with us. And I would respectfully request that this committee take a hard look at it. If you can't do a total lifting of it for everybody, at least look at the high-threat posts where obviously we did it for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the countries you're naming are countries that I think would fall into that category.
BASS: Well, thank you very much.
Among the various Islamic extremist groups operating in Africa today -- AQIM, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram, to name a few -- in your view, which pose the great threats -- direct threat to the United States? And then, given the limited capacity and/or in some cases the limited political will of the countries in which these groups operate, are U.S. military, intelligence and security assistance resources devoted to these threats adequately or appropriately balanced? And what recommendations would you have for us?
CLINTON: Well, I think if you're focusing just on north Africa, Al Qaida is a brand name as much as an organization. People wake up. They form these jihadist groups. They then claim to be associated with, somehow affiliated with Al Qaida in order to gain some credibility with local people as well as beyond.
I -- I think that we have to take seriously all of these terrorist groups whatever they call themselves. Now, at the moment they don't necessarily have either the interest or the ability to attack our homeland, but we have a lot of facilities. We have a lot of assets in north Africa. We just saw Americans killed and held hostage at a gas facility because we do business all over that continent.
So I think we have to take a hard look at all of them, and constantly be upping our military and intelligence and diplomatic assets to deal with them.
BASS: Thank you very much.
ROYCE: I'd like to just take a moment and explain to the gentlelady, we passed last year the best value contract language that you're speaking of, and the House passed an appropriations measure. We're going to try to get our colleagues in the Senate to take that measure up.
We go now to Mr. McCaul from Texas.
MCCAUL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome, Madam Secretary. Thank you for your service. Similar to September the 11th, 2001, there were warning signs prior to Benghazi September 11th. There was an April 6th, 2012 crude IED thrown over the wall of the U.S. facility in Benghazi. On May 22nd, 2012, Red Cross building in Benghazi hit by two RPGs. The brigades of the imprisoned Blind Sheikh took responsibility for that attack. On June 6th, 2012, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was targeted by an IED (inaudible) a big hole in the perimeter wall. Again, the Blind Sheikh brigade taking credit.
And then on August 16th, we have this cable that's been widely reported -- a classified State Department cable warning that the Benghazi consulate could not withstand a coordinated attack. And the regional security officer believed our consulate could not be protected at an emergency meeting less than one month before the attack on 9/11.
A contingency plan was supposedly drafted to move the operations to the CIA annex about a mile away from the compound. This cable is presumed to have been shared by senior staff. It was sent to your office. It was sent to the NSC. And even on September 11th, the day Ambassador Stevens was killed, he personally warned about, quote, "a growing problem with security in Benghazi and growing frustration with security forces and the Libyan police."
Were you aware of this cable -- this August 16th cable?
CLINTON: Congressman, that cable did not come to my attention. I have made it very clear that the security cables did not come to my attention or above the assistant secretary level where the ARB placed responsibility. Where, as I think Ambassador Pickering said, "the rubber hit the road."
Now, I think...
MCCAUL: Can I ask the question: When -- when were you aware of this cable?
CLINTON: After the ARB began to, you know, gather information and material, which, of course, we cooperated with.
MCCAUL: Who within your office -- who within your office did see this cable?
CLINTON: I'm not aware of anyone within my office, within the secretary's office, having seen the cable.
MCCAUL: Within the National Security Council?
CLINTON: I have no information or awareness of anyone in the National Security Council having seen that cable.
MCCAUL: Was this cable a surprise to you?
CLINTON: You know, Congressman, it was very disappointing to me that the ARB Concluded there were inadequacies and problems in the responsiveness of our team here in Washington to the security requests that were made by our team in Libya.
And I was not aware of that going on, it was not brought to my attention, but obviously it's something we're fixing and intend to put into place protocols and systems to make sure it doesn't happen again.
MCCAUL: I certainly hope so. I think when you have a United States ambassador personally warning about the situation over there, sending this cable to your office...
CLINTON: Well if I could -- 1.43 million cables a year come to the State Department. They are all addressed to me. They do not all come to me. There are reported through the bureaucracy.
MCCAUL: Well certainly somebody within your office should have seen this cable, is my -- in my judgment.
Can I ask one last question?
CLINTON: Also, I just want to clarify. You know, as -- with regard to the security requests subsequent to the August 16th cable, our personnel in Libya had not submitted any additional security requests to Washington at the time of the September 11th attack. Now, there was an ongoing dialogue, as you know, between Libya and Washington. I think it is...
MCCAUL: Reclaim my time is very limited -- an emergency meeting was held and a cable sent out on August 16th by the ambassador himself. Warning of what could happen. And this meant this cable went unnoticed by your office. That's the bottom line.
CLINTON: Well the facts -- the facts as we have them, Congressman, and I will be happy to have people give you this in detail. The August 16th cable stated the security requests for Benghazi would be forthcoming. The RSO in Benghazi submitted to Tripoli a preliminary list of proposed security recommendations on August 23rd, but no requests were submitted to Washington before the attacks.
Now, this sound -- this sounds very complicated and to some extent it is, we're trying to simplify it and avoid the kind of problems that are identified. MCCAUL: I hope we can fix that.
One last question. Why was he in Benghazi on September the 11th?
ROYCE: Going to go now to Mr. William...
MCCAUL: I'll submit that question in writing.
ROYCE: That will be fine.
We'll go to Mr. William Keating of Massachusetts.
KEATING: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
You know, I -- I must say that after the tragedy last September, one of the things that just moved me so much were the comments of the family members of one of the heroes who lost their lives. Glen Daherty (ph) in Massachusetts. And paraphrasing them, but they told people that they shouldn't lose sight over who is ultimately responsible for these deaths. An amazing statement giving -- putting things into perspective here. And the other thing they mentioned was, do not lose sight of the causes that these men gave their lives for. And as a person who has advanced those causes, I want to thank you for your incredible service as secretary of state.
Now, one of the parts of the ARB Report is of great concern to me. Dealt with what they described as a culture of austerity in the State Department. And Madame Secretary, can you take a few moments and expand on the ARB's finding on that subject and how it affects the State Department's ability to carry out crucial tasks?
Not just security, but all crucial tasks.
CLINTON: Well Congressman, that is what the ARB Found. They found that there was a culture of husbanding resources, of, you know, being quite concerned about responding, even on security, as important as security is, because one never knows what the -- you know, what the budget's going to be going forward.
And, you know, we've had some -- some ups and downs budgetary- wise going back, as I said, into prior administrations. But it is fair to say that many of the professionals in the State Department have really gotten used to worrying greatly that they'll give something to somebody and that will become an expectation that will then have to be taken away, and it did affect the security professionals' decisions according to the ARB
KEATING: Yeah, these prioritizations in my opinion, and this culture, has to change. Not just for security reasons, but for our overall mission.
And just quickly too, with the crisis in Mali and the insurgency there and the spreading jihadist threat in Northern Africa and Maghreb and the Arabian Peninsula, you know, in that area they're relatively technologically advanced, and there's threats that go along those lines that I'm concerned about in terms of cultural austerity there as well.
Cyber threats and other security upgrades that are going to be vitally necessary. And I hope those kind of things are not lost as we review this situation. Can you just comment on what we need in that regard going forward? And -- how much of a threat this -- may pose to us?
CLINTON: Well, you mentioned a word that is rarely mentioned in these hearings but I predict will be a major threat to us and that's cyber, because it's not only going to be nation-states where we already are seeing cyber-intrusions, both against our government and against our private sector, but increasingly nonstate actors will have more capacity to disrupt, to hack into, to put out false information, to accuse the United States of things that can, you know, light fires before we can put them out.
So, you know, I think it's important we have a really thoughtful comprehensive review about the threats of today and the threats of tomorrow. And that will help guide the committee, it will help guide the Senate and certainly the administration in working together to answer them.
KEATING: Thank you. And thank you, Madam Chairman. And I think I'm going to do something that hasn't been done yet. I'm going to yield back the rest of my time.
ROYCE: We go now to Mr. Poe of Texas.
POE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Madam Secretary, thank you once again for your service to our country.
Gordon Rollland (ph) from Oregon, Frederick Butassio (ph) from Caty, Texas, and Victor Lovelady from my district of Atoscaceda (ph), Texas, three Americans overseas killed not in Benghazi, but killed at a remote gas facility in Algeria. Killed, in my opinion, because they were Americans.
Over the last weekend myself and others have tried to get information. I will just say that there's too much in my opinion, red tape, from trying to get just basic information to the families as to what happened in a situation like that. I would hope that the State Department would look at that protocol and try to streamline it because people died.
The Algerian government now reports, after they have captured some of the terrorists alive , some from claiming to be from Egypt, one says that after interrogation by the Algerian government , whatever that interrogation may entail, that there were Egyptians involved in the Benghazi attack and that were at the attack on the gas plant in Algeria.
At the time of the Benghazi attack, Ansar Al Shari'a, the next day, terrorist group as you know, they claimed responsibility for the attack. We probably don't know if the statements made by the Algerian -- or excuse me Egyptian terrorists that was captured are true, or if the Egyptians were followed or were involved in that attack or not. It does seem to show that the whole region is very fluid with different groups getting together, causing mischief throughout the entire region.
As of today, several months later, after the attacks on Benghazi, has to your knowledge any person been put currently in custody anywhere by any government for the responsibility -- as a suspect involved in the Benghazi attack?
CLINTON: Congressman, there is one potential suspect who has been placed under monitoring by the Tunisian government. There are other suspects that the FBI are both closely following and consulting with partner governments. I think, based on my last conversation with Director Mueller, which was just a few days ago, he went to Libya, he went to Tunisia. He believes that the investigation is proceeding. I know that the FBI has been up on the Hill doing classified briefings with certain committees. I don't know about this committee.
But I certainly hope that the FBI is able to investigate, identify, and hold responsible those who waged this attack against us. And I think that, based on their work, they feel that they are pursuing some very positive leads.
POE: OK. My understanding is the Tunisian person that was held in Tunisia was released by a judge there. And that person has been released. So basically, we don't really know at this point who did it.
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I confirmed with Director Mueller, who was just in Tunisia meeting with their high officials, that this person is basically under law enforcement surveillance and forbidden to leave Tunis. Director Mueller told me that that had been confirmed to him by the Tunisians.
POE: All right. Just very briefly, we don't know who --- no one's been held accountable, charged with this offense. Before Gaddafi was taken out, my understanding is the nation of Qatar 18 shipments, 20,000 tons of weapons, machine guns, RPGs into the region to help different groups overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. The United States gave a wink and nod to this.
And I'd like a written answer to that, Mr. Chairman.
ROYCE: Thank you. We will go now to Mr. Cicilline from Rhode Island.
CICILLINE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Madame Secretary, for your extraordinary service to our country that has earned you the deep respect and admiration of people all over the world and has enhanced America's standing all over the globe.
Your leadership on women's issues, LGBT equality, supporting emerging democracies, and enhancing American national security are to numerous to list. But I want to begin by thanking you for all of your hard work and everything you have done in service to our country.
Thank you also for your testimony today. The terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya resulted in the tragic deaths of Ambassador Stevens, Shawn Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty. And these are constant reminders of the dangerous work that our diplomats engage in every single day all throughout the world. And while we cannot eliminate all risks, it's our duty to enact protocols and policies that will reduce these risks and to provide all the resources and support necessary to help mitigate and manage those risks.
With that in mind I hope my colleagues will consider the Accountability Review Board, which you, Madame Secretary, convened. And it calls for, and I quote, " ... a more serious and sustained commitment from Congress to support State Department needs." End quote. This is particularly important, given the implications that the looming sequester as well as potential government shutdown would have on our diplomatic security, especially in high risk posts.
I also want to take a moment to commend and thank Admiral Mullen and Ambassador Pickering, for the comprehensive and prompt review that they conducted. And of course, applaud you, Madame Secretary, for the adoption of all 29 ARB recommendations and for promptly undertaking their implementation, and providing guidance on the status of that implementation here today.
And just to say, there has been some discussion about the importance of getting to the nitty-gritty and fixing problems. I hope that we will rely on the security professionals and the expert advice and recommendations of the ARB. I think they're much more likely to produce the best response to what needs to be undertaken.
And so, I want to ask you, Madame Secretary, one of the things that you did was actually in anticipation of some of the recommendations, you created for the first time ever a diplomatic security deputy assistant secretary. And I think with respect to the ARB report, the importance of examining the State Department's organization and management as it relates to security planning, my expectation is that that will be one of the responsibilities of this new position.
I'm wondering if you could just tell us a little bit about the role of this new secretary within the bureau, what responsibilities the position will have, and will this individual in particular have the authority to reallocate resources in order to fill potential resource gaps, if that's one of the challenges you face?
CLINTON: Well, thank you, Congressman.
This is a deputy assistant secretary for high-threat posts . I want one person held accountable, looking at these high-threat posts, talking to our military and intelligence partners, being a voice at the table, not just for all 275 posts, but really zeroing in, on a real -- a real-time, constant evaluation about what our high-threat posts need.
But in addition to that we're going to continue our work with the Defense Department and the interagency security assessment of threats.
I'm also, for the first time, elevating a lot of these security issues for high-threat posts to the secretarial level, because it hasn't been there before and I think, given what we've experienced. it needs to be .
We're also looking for the transfer authority to add to our -- our Marine security guards, our construction and our Diplomatic Security.
We're enhancing the -- the training for everyone. We're taking a hard look at another problem that the ARB pointed out, and that was our temporary duty assignments.
You know, very often, given especially the experiences we've had in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to a lesser extent in some other large posts, we have a lot of our most experienced Diplomatic Security people going there.
I mean, you know, in the two times we've had serious assaults on our embassy in Kabul, Kabul is fortified, Kabul has the ISAF troops across the street. As they draw down, we have to recognize that the danger is not going to leave with our ISAF military.
So we -- we have to take a hard look at all of this. And we have to embed that responsibility in this new, experienced deputy assistant secretary to do that.
CICILLINE: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
ROYCE: Matt Salmon of Arizona.
SALMON: Thank you.
Madam Secretary, I appreciate your desire to come before our committee today to testify and answer questions to help us make the changes necessary to ensure the safety of all of our Foreign Service officers, but particularly those who are making the heavy -- heavy sacrifices servicing in high-threat regions.
But I've got to say that I -- I am troubled by what seems to be this administration's pattern of misleading the American people and failing to hold decision-makers accountable.
From Operation Fast and Furious, where Attorney General Eric Holder has repeatedly misled the American people and Congress about an intentional international gun-walking scheme, to U.N. Secretary Susan Rice. who, on five separate occasions, went before the American people days after the attacks on Benghazi talking about a demonstration at a facility that never happened, that was not even suggested in any of the reports and information coming from Benghazi.
I know the purpose of this hearing is to find out how to ensure another Benghazi never happens again. I hope that we'd all include the aftermath of the tragedy as well.
How do we make sure that such gross mispresentations of attacks on Americans never happen again?
One other -- a couple of other questions. I know you've put the four individuals identified as culpable by the Accountability Review Board on administrative leave. What do you anticipate will be the final resolution of their status with the department?
And the Accountability Review Board did not identify any individuals above the secretary -- excuse me, assistant secretary level as accountable for the security failures at the Benghazi mission.
Now, you've said that the numerous cables requesting and begging for additional security resources sent by Ambassador Chris Stevens were never seen by State officials above Assistant Secretary Eric Boswell or Deputy Assistant Secretary Charlene Lamb.
I know you care very deeply about the people that work with you in the department. So, given the fact that your testimony is that you never saw any of these multiple requests and nobody above assistant secretary level saw these requests, doesn't that give you some concerns about the flow of information within the department and maybe some of your underlings' ability to prioritize and get to your attention serious issues?
You said that you get hundreds of thousands of cables all the time, and these -- these cables directly to you. I understand that you don't read them all and nor do you have the time to do that.
But I would think that within the department you would have people that work for you that are able to prioritize and get to you the ones that are more serious in nature and especially when somebody's security is on the line.
Finally, President Truman had a placard on his desk that said "The buck stops here." I know that you've taken responsibility, and I applaud you for that. But I -- I really hope that this isn't just an exercise -- another exercise in finding lower level bureaucrats that we kind of throw under the bus and actually get somewhere with this -- not about a game of gotcha, but -- but how can we fix this for the future.
And I yield back the balance. And I'd love your answers.
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, that's exactly what I'm intent on doing. And I think the ARB, not I, has made its findings. The reason ARBs were created is to try to take a dispassionate, independent view of what happened and then come up with recommendations that are the responsibility of the department to implement.
You know, the -- the ARB makes very clear that Chris Stevens, who probably knew more about Libya than anybody else in our government, did not see a direct threat of an attack of this nature and scale despite the overall trend of security problems that we faced -- and I have to add neither did the intelligence community. The ARB makes that very clear that the intelligence community also did not really zero in on the connection between the deteriorating threat environment in eastern Libya and in Benghazi and a direct threat on our compound.
So we have work to do. We have work to do inside the department. We have work to do with our partners and the DOD and the intelligence community to constantly be taking in information, making sure it does get to the right people; that it isn't somehow stovepiped or stalled, but that it does rise to decision-makers. And I'm committed to improving every way that I can on what the ARB told us to do, on assessing our intelligence.
And I think that it's fair to say, Congressman, that we -- we have to do this now because I predict we're going to be, as we saw in Algeria, seeing all kinds of asymmetric, not just to our government facilities but to private sector facilities. In Tunisia, although we -- we protected our embassy, our school was badly damaged. So we have to take a broader view.
And I think that the ARB gives us a start but it's not the whole story.
ROYCE: Mr. Grayson from Florida? GRAYSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you very much, Secretary Clinton, for your contributions to securing America's place in the world for the past four years and for your contributions toward world peace.
The first question I'd like to ask you has to do with the Accountability Review Board's report. The report does identify specifically people who were found to have engaged in the department in systematic failures and deficiencies. I want to be clear about this: You were not one of those people. Is that correct?
CLINTON: That's correct.
GRAYSON: All right.
Now, it was identified earlier that a report dating from the 1990s had said that the secretary should take a personal and active role in security. Have you done that during your four years at the State Department?
CLINTON: I have been very attuned to the environment in which threats are occurring, the intelligence that is available. Certainly not the specific requests and decision making, which rests with the security professionals.
GRAYSON: All right. Regarding the security professionals, is there anybody now in existence in the department who is responsible for viewing the itineraries of ambassadors in advance in order to determine whether there's an undue threat to their safety?
CLINTON: The general answer to that is no. Ambassadors are given what's called chief of mission authority. Ambassadors, especially those who we ask to go to dangerous posts, are -- are pretty independent folks. Some of them might say, "Well, what do you think about this or that?" but most of them make their own decisions.
Chris Stevens did not ask anyone for permission to go to Benghazi. I don't think it would have crossed his mind.
Robert Ford, who served as our ambassador to Syria, went out on numerous occasions to talk to the opposition before we pulled him out of Damascus. We had, you know, very brave ambassadors like Ryan Crocker, one of our very best, who -- it would be very difficult to say, "Ryan, you can't go do this even though you've decided you should do it."
CLINTON: But what we're trying to do is to create a more ongoing discussion between our ambassadors, our -- our bureaus back in the State Department who are regional experts and our security people, so that at the very least no ambassador is taking an unnecessary risk -- however that is defined.
GRAYSON: Well with regard to Ambassador Stevens, certainly it was brave of him to go to Benghazi on the days that he did. I have to ask you honestly, though, was there anything in his itinerary on the 10th or the 11th that actually specifically required his personal presence?
CLINTON: Well, he certainly thought so, Congressman. And he did, of course, discuss this with his own security people. Remember, we do have regional security officers in these posts. They are the ones that an ambassador will turn to. He believed that it was important for him to go to Benghazi. there were a number of meetings that he was holding and some public events that he had on his schedule and, you know, he was someone who really believed strongly he had to get out there and I think as -- as the ARB has pointed out, he -- he was given great deference by the rest of the government.
GRAYSON: Do you have any concept of the number of American troops it might have taken to actually create a totally secure environment for him in Benghazi on September 10 and 11?
CLINTON: No, the -- the number of diplomatic security personnel requested in the cables was five. There were five there that night with him, plus there was a mutual understanding with the annex that had a much more heavily armed presence because of the work that they were doing in the region.
It is very difficult to, in retrospect really anticipate what might have been. One of the RSO's who had served in Libya said the kind of attack that the compound suffered had not been anticipated. We had -- we had gotten used to, you know, preparing for car bombs and suicide bombers and things like that but this was of a different nature.
And we even saw that at the annex, which was much more heavily fortified had much more heavy military equipment; we lost two of our best and had one of our diplomatic security officers badly injured. He's still at Walter Reed.
So even the annex, which had more assets in the face of the attack was suffering losses that night.
GRAYSON: Thank you very much.
ROYCE: Mr. Marino of Pennsylvania.
MARINO: Good afternoon Madam -- Madam Secretary.
In August of 2012, prior to the Benghazi attack, the Library of Congress published a report on behalf of a division of DOD called Al Qaeda in Libya profile. This report outlined Al Qaeda's growing presence in Libya, particularly in east Libya where Benghazi is located.
Something was especially alarming to me in this DOD report was the mention that (inaudible) and other Al Qaeda groups in Libya have adopted the black flag which symbolizes commitment to violent jihad promoted by Al Qaeda senior leaders.
In my hand, I hold a picture of the flag that the Department of State identified to be a prominent issuance of this flag and on the rise in Libya.
I also hold a picture of the same flag -- same type of flag, in Tunisia where the protesters were outside the embassy there.
In addition, I have a flag -- a picture was taken in Cairo at the U.S. Embassy where demonstrations took place.
Another picture in Jordan at the U.S. Embassy where protests took place.
In Bahrain, over 2,000 protesters who burned numerous U.S. and Israeli flags, again at the embassy.
In Kuwait, U.S. Embassy, 500 demonstrators chanting Obama we are all Samma (ph), the flag again.
And finally in Libya, the U.S. compound, the flag was flown there and carried through the streets as well.
My question, Madam Secretary, is -- were you aware of this DOD report prior to the terrorist attack in Benghazi?
CLINTON: Well, I was certainly aware of a number of reports from throughout our government. I don't know the specific one that you're referring to. There were DOD reports and intelligence community reports, State Department reports, talking about the decreasing -- or the increasing threat environment in eastern Libya. That was what we were trying to address with the Libyans.
And remember the election in July in Libya brought to victory what we would consider moderates, people who had a very different view of the kind of future than certainly Al Qaida or any of these militants have.
But there's going to be a struggle. There's going to be a struggle in this region, and the United States has to be as effective in partnering with the non-jihadists, whether they fly a black flag or any other color flag, to be successful.
MARINO: I clearly understand that, Madam Secretary.
MARINO: I clearly understand that. However, this flag was pointed out to be affiliated with Al Qaida, terrorists who attack and kill United States citizens and other individuals around the world. Do you -- did anyone in your department below you, were they aware of this report and these photos prior to? And don't you think they should have brought this to your attention?
CLINTON: Well, what I'm trying to say, Congressman, is I am well aware that there were people claiming to be associated with Al Qaida, that were attempting to influence militias, attempting to exercise more authority, along with a number of other groups that didn't necessarily work under that flag, but had the same militant jihadist mentality.
So yes, I -- I was certainly aware of that, and so was Chris Stevens, and so were -- so was our team in Libya.
MARINO: But my point is this flag kept coming up and you did not think that that was important enough to increase security, when after how many embassies where this flag was shown in demonstrations. I personally think that it would demand an increase in security. And those below you that might have known this, should have brought that to you attention.
I come from industry. I come from government. And there are individuals that just have to be cut loose when they're not performing their tasks. Are these three people that are on leave, are they still being paid?
CLINTON: They are on administrative leave, and under federal law and regulations, they are still being paid.
MARINO: What's the hold-up?
CLINTON: Because there are regulations and law that has to be followed.
MARINO: No, no, what's the hold up from a management perspective of saying, "You three let me down; this should have been brought to my attention. I no longer need your services."
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I'd be happy to give you an answer, because personnel discussions are not appropriate for public settings. But we have taken every step that was available, and we will continue to do so, and we are looking for additional authority.
But to just finish up on the point you made, we had good security at all of those embassies other than in Tunisia, because of the newness of the government. And then when they were asked to respond, they did. Because I go back to the point that was made on the other side of the aisle, we are dependent on host government support. And where it doesn't exist, unless we invade and unless we have a big military presence in a country, we are doing the best we can with our diplomatic security and private security guards and any other help we can get.
ROYCE: Mr. Vargas of California?
VARGAS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity.
And thank you very much, Madam Secretary, for being here. I also want to thank you for the excellent work that you've done not only here in the United States, but across the world. I have to say that because it's true, one, and secondly, I don't think that my wife, my 16-year- old daughter, or my nine-year-old daughter, she'd probably even turn on me and wouldn't let me in the House if I didn't say that. You are a hero to many, especially women, and you seem to bring out these deep aspirations that they have in ways that I've never seen anyone do before.
So again, thank you for your service. When I was reading the information here, it brought back to mind another assassination, murder. I was a Jesuit for five years and I spent some time in El Salvador. And in 1989, there was an assassination of Father Ignacio Ellacuria, Father Segundo Montes, Father Ignacio Martin-Baro, Father Juan Ramon Moreno, Father Amando Lopez, Father Joaquin Lopez Lopez, and also the housekeeper, Mrs. Elba Ramos and her young daughter -- she was 15 years old -- Celina Ramos.
I knew them because I worked with them. Sigundo Montes was my superior. And I know the pain that I felt when I heard that they died. I had left the Jesuits by then. And so I know that as you being the superior of the people who died I'm sure felt the same way.
That's why I am glad that we brought up the names here today. I think it is important to mention the names -- Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Mr. Sean Smith, Mr. Tyrone Woods, Mr. Glen Doherty -- because many of us who have faith believe that they didn't die in vain. And that's why I'm very proud that you're here bravely standing before us trying to figure out what to do.
And one of the things that -- that did trouble me as I read this was the reliance that we have on local security. That's the part that didn't make sense to me. I come from San Diego, we have the Marine Corps there. We have the Navy, we have incredibly good security and service people.
Why don't we rely more on them?
CLINTON: Well that's an excellent question and you -- you brought back some very sad memories in talking about the losses that occurred in El Salvador.
You know, we do rely primarily on host nation support, but we have to take a harder look at the commitment and the capacity of these host nations, and therefore in places all over the world, we also have private security guards, some armed, some unarmed, we have Marine guards at many places, about 150 who at least are demonstrating a line of -- of defense, but we -- we have to do more.
And when you ask why do we rely on these -- well in part, because we don't have military assets everywhere. If you look at the statements, particularly by Admiral Mullen, who was our chairman of our joint chiefs he basically said, "Look we have to work together more closely between State and DOD, but it's unrealistic," in his words, "to tether our military to every high risk post."
So part of what we're trying to struggle through with is how do we make our facilities as secure as possible without turning them into fortresses, because our diplomats are not soldiers? How do we have reliable private security? The February 17th brigade was a Libyan government supported militia that had been protecting Chris Stevens when he showed up before Gadhafi fell. They had been reliable, they had been responsive, but they were not particularly available during those first minutes and hours of the attack on our compound.
So we -- we also had contracted with a private security company that had a permit to operate in Libya, because, you know, the United States, unless we go into a country with massive military force, we, you know, go in and we follow the rules of the country. And we had to get a security force that had a permit from the Libyan government. So these are all issues that are being looked at so we try to fill the gaps that have been identified.
VARGAS: Thank you. And the last thing I would just correct that -- you said earlier, that we haven't done enough promoting ourselves around the country -- the world, I think you have. I think you've done a fantastic job, and other than President Kennedy, I don't know of anyone that's had a better image in the Latin Americas.
So we thank you.
CLINTON: Thank you very much, Congressman.
ROYCE: We go now to Mr. Duncan of South Carolina.
DUNCAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Madam secretary.
Let me just tell you, Americans are frustrated. They're frustrated over the handling of Benghazi, what happened when four Americans died there, they're frustrated and sometimes down right angry about being -- what they think, being misled about what really happened there. Being told that this was a protest over a video, not just for a couple of days, but for weeks on end.
And then they're frustrated when they see comments from you this morning when you said, "What difference at this point does it make?" I'll tell you what difference it makes. It makes a difference when Americans think they were misled about something for political reasons.
In the hearing this morning you mentioned that we were clear-eyed about the threats and dangers as they were developing in the eastern Libya. Madam Secretary if you were really, in your words, clear-eyed about the levels of threat to our consulate in Benghazi or our special mission in Benghazi, then you should have known about Chris Stevens' memo I believe of 16 August, that said our consulate could not be defended from a coordinated attack.
Questions Americans have is, did he expect an attack? If you were clear-eyed, then why didn't your department -- why did your department reject the request I believe on 7 June for 16 additional security agents?, the site security team that would have been funded by DOD, not at the State expenditure?
If you were clear-eyed, shouldn't you have known that there was no real Libyan government to turn to for security assistance?
DUNCAN: You answered that question for Mr. Meeks earlier, when you said there was -- you were unsure about the -- the Libyan government and their ability to provide that assistance. If you were clear-eyed were you clear-eyed about the -- Al Qaida's displeasure with who we seem to be supporting during the summer elections, the moderate that was elected? If you were clear-eyed, shouldn't you have known that Al Qaida roamed freely in and around Benghazi. As my friend from Pennsylvania pointed out, there were Al Qaida flags not just at the protest, there were Al Qaida flags flying all over Benghazi.
If you were clear-eyed, were you clear-eyed when the Brits left Benghazi because they had the attack? Why did four Americans die? What was so important that Ambassador Stevens -- he knew there was a security threat in Benghazi. He went there on September 10th and 11th and gave his life for our country. What was so important for him to go to eastern Libya, knowing all these threats, knowing (inaudible) are clear?
And I think you misspoke earlier when you said you that you didn't know of any requests that were denied for more security. June 7th e- mail exchange between Ambassador Stevens and John Moretti (ph), when he requested for one MSD team -- or actually an additional MSD team, and the reply from John Moretti (ph) said, "Unfortunately, MSD cannot support the request."
There was a request made for more security, and it was denied on June 7th.
And so Madam Secretary, you let the consulate become a death trap. And that's national security malpractice.
You said you take responsibility. What does responsibility mean, Madam Secretary? You're still in your job, and there are four people at the Department of State that have culpability in this that are still in their jobs.
I heard the answer about firing or removing personnel. I get that. This was gross negligence. At what point in time can our administration and can our government fire someone whose gross negligence left -- left four Americans dead in Benghazi?
What does the word "responsibility" mean to you, Madam Secretary?
CLINTON: I think I've made that very clear, Congressman. And let me say that we've come here and made a very open, transparent presentation. I did not have to declassify the ARB. I could have joined 18 of the other ARBs of both Democratic and Republican administration, kept it classified and then, you know, just said goodbye. That's not who I am. That's not what I do.
And I have great confidence that the Accountability Review Board did the job they were asked to do, made the recommendations that they thought were based on evidence -- not on emotion...
DUNCAN: There was a lot of evidence...
DUNCAN: ... reclaiming my time. There was a lot of evidence...
(CROSSTALK) DUNCAN: ... that led up to the security situation.
CLINTON: I'm sorry, Congressman.
DUNCAN: You mentioned transparency. You haven't provided the call logs of messages, instant messages during that attack between the post and the operations center. In an air of transparency will you release these communications between Benghazi, Tripoli and Washington?
CLINTON: I will get an answer to you on that, but I will tell you once more, the reason we have Accountability Review Boards is so that we take out of politics, we take out of emotion what happened and we try to get to the truth.
I think this very distinguished panel did just that. And we are working diligently, overtime to implement their recommendations. That is my responsibility. I'm gonna do everything I can before I finish my tenure.
And I would also, going back to your first point and about the concerns that people you represented have expressed about statements that were made, I would refer you both to the unclassified version of the ARB where after months of research and talking to more than 100 witnesses, the picture is still very complicated about what happened that night. "There are key questions" -- I'm quoting -- "surrounding the identity, actions and motivations of the perpetrators that remain to be determined."
And I recommend that every member read the classified version which goes into greater detail that I cannot speak to here today.
DUNCAN: It was a terrorist attack. It's pretty clear at the motivation was.
ROYCE: Mr. Schneider?
SCHNEIDER: Madam Secretary, let me again thank you for joining us. Thank you for opening up the ARB report. We are grateful. Let me also echo the words of my colleagues and extend my own personal gratitude for your service. You did our nation well and made our people proud. You've done an extraordinary job as our nation's top diplomat and you will be sorely missed.
The Benghazi attack claimed the lives of four brave Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens, who have -- who had done so much to liberate the Libyan people.
Despite the risk involved, he returned to that country as our ambassador because he knew the important work of building a new Libya remained unfinished.
America's diplomatic corps dedicate their lives to promoting Americans' interests abroad and knowingly put themselves in danger to serve their country.
SCHNEIDER: While we know that these jobs are not without risk, we must do more to support our diplomats.
I am pleased the State Department conducted a serious investigation, and appreciate that you have already started -- stated that you'll accept every one of the 29 Review Board's recommendations.
The State Department is increasingly operating in high-threat locations throughout the world, requiring our diplomats to be stationed further afield and closer to dangers on the ground. This not only raises the security risk faced by our diplomats and development experts, but also places a strain on existing resources.
As we move forward, how will the State Department evaluate the benefits to U.S. interests from having an official presence in a given location versus the security risks faced by that diplomatic mission?
How do you expect the department will weigh physical and technical, personnel and political costs as opposed to the gains of operating in front line states?
And last, what changes do you think these demands will require vis-a- vis people and other resources at the State Department?
CLINTON: These are very important questions, and I can't do justice to them in the time left. But we will certainly get you additional written information.
But let me briefly say, Congressman, that, you know, I -- I ordered the first ever quadrennial diplomacy and development review (ph) because, as I said, I'd served on the Armed Services Committee, where we get every four years a quadrennial defense review, which really does help the Armed Services Committees in both houses plan for their authorization and I wanted to lay the groundwork for us to do the same with the State Department.
In that document we began what is a very difficult analysis about how to balance and mitigate risk versus presence. It was part of the -- it was one of the most challenging aspects of the QDDR process.
And we have an ongoing effort underway, because if you talk to many of our ambassadors who -- especially the experienced ones, they really don't want to be told by Washington or anybody where they can go, when they can go, what they can do.
They've been in the Foreign Service 10, 20, 30 years or more and they believe in their missions and they believe they have a better sense of how to evaluate risk.
At the same time we have to be conscious of and make difficult decisions about how to protect not just ambassadors but all of our personnel and their families in these high-risk posts.
It is a constant debate, Congressman. You know, we have authorized departure, we have ordered departure, and it -- it is something that we take very seriously when we do it.
You know, when -- when we left Benghazi on the night of 11th, 12th, there were others still there. The Italians were there -- the Turks were there, the Italians had just left.
I mean, people evaluate risk over time. And I think it's important to do what we can to minimize it. Some of that will be done by technology, some of that will be done by hard security, and some of that will be done by what we call soft power. But trying to get the balance right is very difficult.
SCHNEIDER: As we look forward, to the steps taken, how do we ensure -- we'll be in new places, we're going to face new challenges, how do we make sure that we're able to provide the resources to these high- threat, high-risk posts?
CLINTON: Very, very difficult. You know, that's -- that's going to be a question of new streamlined processes and protocols, sufficient security, both hard and soft, and resources.
And we just have to -- we have to ask you based on our best assessment about what we need to do our job. And sometimes, you know, you've got a budget process and nobody has predicted that you're going to have a revolution against Gadhafi. And then you've got to scramble.
How do you get somebody into Benghazi? How do you figure out what to do in Tripoli?
And there are -- I could go down the line and tell you 10 or 20 of those examples that we live with every day. So we -- we -- it's more of an art than a science, to be honest, because as of now we don't have, you know, hard parameters, but we're trying to develop the best we can.
SCHNEIDER: Thank you.
ROYCE: Madam Secretary, I understand that you have a meeting at the White House, but have agreed to stay so that members can have a few more questions. We will end by 5:00. And we really appreciate that.
We want to go to Mr. Kinzinger of Illinois.
KINZINGER: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, thank you for staying. I really appreciate it. I appreciate your service to your country. And, you know, we -- we -- as was mentioned earlier, we look forward to your next steps. We'll see what happens.
Let me just say, I'm actually an Air Force pilot. And I have a few concerns I want to lay out.
One of the first things I was told as a pilot in the military is that your country will never leave you behind. If you find yourself down in enemy lines, rest assured your country will move heaven and Earth to come get you. If you find yourself in armed conflict, rest assured your country will do everything in its power to come save you from that armed conflict.
Now as the representative of the administration here, I have to ask you this, from the initial attack to the second attack, there was a lull of seven hours. Now, I'm going to say this, I was one of a handful of Republicans to vote to support the president's position in Libya. I think we did the right thing there. But I did it with the knowledge that we would have the military forces in place to be able to rescue any personnel in a tough situation.
In that intervening seven hours, military assets to -- to what we know -- what we can talk about were not put in place. Aviano Air Base is 1,044 miles from Benghazi. Aviano Air Base is an F-16 base, airplanes could have been put in the air after being fueled, even if they didn't have missiles on them and there can be nonviolent things that F-16s can do to disburse crowds that I know of well. So that's a concern.
Originally, also when you briefed us, I remember -- and this has been I know hammered -- it's been hammered a little bit, but when you briefed us, you said unequivocally this was a result of the video and I remember in fact, you got pretty upset about it when somebody suggested that this was a terrorist attack. This was our -- our briefing that we had.
But we find out now, it wasn't. We find out now that it wasn't the video, it was a terrorist attack.
When we come talking about the issue of the drone and the surveillance overhead, if there was in fact a drone overhead, I would assume that there would be a link in which you could watch what is going on live or else maybe somebody under you was able to see what was going on live, or else, that link was down.
And another question I have, when it comes to -- I -- I -- I watched your -- your testimony in the Senate and you said, you know, part of the reason we had a little bit of a delay in understanding what was going on, we did not have immediate access to the security cameras, the security footage.
But yet at the same time, you had mortars being reported as being fired on security personnel. If I would hear that mortars are being fired, I would immediately assume, regardless of whether I could see what's going on overhead, regardless of if I could see the security footage, that this is more than a spontaneous demonstration.
The other question I have too, I'm laying a few out for you -- the FES -- the foreign response team, was that your decision not to deploy that right away? Was that an issue of logistics? Where does that come from?
And the final thing I want to say is this, as again, a believer, which I think you believe that we are in a time where it is very important for American leadership to be out in front to prevent a resurgence of -- of jihadist activity, of Al Qaeda activity, I'm worried about the strategy of leading from behind.
If the United States ambassador in Libya, and I say this respectfully, can't get a message forward to the Secretary of State about his concern about security in one of the most hot zones in the world, I worry about a lead from behind strategy. And if we have no assets on alert that can respond in a seven hour lull in two different attacks in the most hot spot, one of the most hotspots in the world, on 9/11, on the anniversary, is the lead from behind strategy failing? Because I really want American leadership to be strong. I believe in freedom and I believe we're the people that are going to be able to take freedom around the globe.
With that, I'll give you the remaining minute and I thank you for your generosity.
CLINTON: And I thank you for your service, Congressman, both in the Air Force and here.
There was a lot packed into that, let me see what I can cover quickly and then we'll get the rest to you in writing.
DOD took every action it could take starting from the time that the president directed Secretary Panetta and Chairman Dempsey to do so. Again, I turn to the ARB because that's, to me, a much more factually based finding.
The board found no evidence of any undue delays in decision making or denial of support from Washington or from military combatant commanders. Quite ht contrary, the safe evacuation of all U.S. government personnel from Benghazi 12 hours after the initial attack and subsequently to (inaudible) was the result of exceptional U.S. government coordination and military response and help saved the lives of two severely wounded Americans.
Now, having said that, I think it's very important we do more to coordinate with DOD along the lines of what you're talking about because who knows what's going to be facing us in the next months and years.
With respect to the -- the video, I did not say that it was video from -- that it was about the video for Libya. It certainly was for many of the other places where we were watching these disturbances.
Now with respect to predator feed or video of the attack, we could not see that at the State Department. There was no access to that. At no time did I have a live feed of the attack. Not from any system in our compound, and not from the annex nor from any UAV. There's been confusion, understandably, because we did talk a lot about the surveillance camera video that eventually got to us.
I will give you more information about that, because I think it is important to understand how -- how this happened. And as you know, Congressman, the annex was not under our -- my authority, so information was flowing into another agency -- more than one other agency, and those people were incredibly brave, but overwhelmed as well.
ROYCE: Mr. Kennedy of Massachusetts.
KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member and Madam Secretary, thank you for what I can only describe as a truly exemplary career in public service and a dedication to public service. And I look forward to what the future holds for you as well.
I have two broad-based questions for you, Madam Secretary. You now have obviously held this office for four years at an extraordinarily challenging time in our history. We're seeing-- we've recently passed the two-year anniversary of the Arab Awakening, we're seeing in recent headlines threats -- emerging threats from Algeria and Mali, across Northern Africa, spreading out through the Mideast, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan.
As you close on your tenure I was wondering if you might be willing to share some important lessons learned from the time that you've spent in this post, and enlighten us as to what Congress can do to help respond and even get in front of these threats as we move forward.
And related to that, if I -- if I may, assuming that you're going to say what you've said a couple of times about increased engagement at the ground level, how do we do that in areas that are unstable, where we need to depend on local governments or local security forces that, quite frankly, we've seen don't have the ability to provide the type of security that our diplomats are going to demand?
CLINTON: Well Congressman it's wonderful to see you here. And I thank you for your interest in looking sort of into the future.
Let me just make a couple of points. First, we have a lot of tools that we don't use as well as we should. I think we've abdicated the broadcasting arena where both in TV and radio, which are considered kind of old fashioned, media are still very important in a lot of these ungoverned, a lot of these difficult places where we're trying to do business.
And I think we -- we have to get our act together. I would hope that this committee would pay attention to the broadcasting board of governors which is in desperate need of assistance, intervention, and change.
I think, too, social media is a great tool. We've begun trying to use it much more in the State Department, and not communicate with just, you know, leaders and officials, but really, as you say, get down into the grassroots. We've also -- I started two organizations to deal with countering violent extremism , one a new operation inside the State Department that is staffed with inter-agency experts. So that, you know, I'm not saying anything that's classified, but it's beginning to try to respond to Al Qaeda and other jihaddist propaganda.
So if they put up a video which talks about how terrible Americans are, we put up a video which talks about, you know, how terrible they are. We are trying to meet them in the media channels that they are communicating with people.
We're also at the beginning of an organization I helped to stand up the -- the Global Counter-terrorism Forum. Because if we don't work with partners and understand more effectively how to counter violent extremism, how to stop recruiters, how to turn families and communities against these jihaddists, there will be a constant flow of them. So we have to be smarter about that. And there are other things that I would, you know, like to share with you and others on the committee who are interested.
I often -- you know, it's not a perfect analogy, but I would say that, you know, our fight against international communism, against Soviet Union, during the Cold War, we did a lot of things really well. I mean, we kept people's hopes alive. We communicated with freedom lovers and advocates behind the Iron Curtain. We did it through media, we did it through our values. Well I think we've got a similar challenge even though it's a very different world. And let's get smart about it, and let's figure out how we're going to put some points on the board, so to speak, in dealing with both governments and populations.
And if I could just very -- I know that Representative Duncan has left -- but his question took me a little by surprise because our op center does not do instant messaging. So, the reason you haven't gotten instant messaging is we don't do instant messaging. So I wanted to put that into the record and -- and hope that his staff or someone will convey that to him.
KENNEDY: Thank you.
ROYCE: Thank you.
We'll go to Mr. Brooks of Alabama.
BROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And Secretary Clinton, it's an honor to be here today and I want to thank you for the time that you've spent with us and with the Senate, for that matter. I'm sure it's been a long day.
It's been my experience that truth without credibility is meaningless, and credibility once lost is difficult to reacquire. My concern is the degree to which false statements about Benghazi have damaged America's credibility not only here, but also abroad.
I don't focus on any of your statements in that regard. Rather, I focus on some others. On September 16th, 2012 on Meet the Press, Ambassador Susan Rice stated, and I quote, "What happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo -- almost a copy-cat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo which were prompted, of course, by the video," end quote.
Let me break this statement down into three parts, if I might, and I'd ask you to confirm, based on the data we now have, whether her comments were true or false.
Secretary Clinton, is Ambassador Rice's statement that Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction to the Cairo protests factually accurate?
CLINTON: Well, I think if you look at the ARB finding, Congressman, there is still question about what caused it. So I don't want to -- I don't want to mislead you in any way. That is not the weight of the evidence right now, but I think until the FBI completes its investigation, we're not going to know all the reasons why these people showed up with weapons and stormed our compound.
BROOKS: Well, Secretary Clinton, is Ambassador Rice's statement that Benghazi a copycat of the Cairo demonstrations factually accurate?
CLINTON: Well, it turned out not to be because the Cairo -- the Cairo demonstrations were not heavily armed and we did eventually get host nation security support. So there were differences. But again, I would say that Secretary Rice conveyed information that had been provided by the intelligence community and the interagency process.
BROOKS: I'm not trying to go into the process. Right now, I'm just trying to determine what the truth is as best we know at this time.
Secretary Clinton, is Ambassador Rice's statement that Benghazi was, quote, "prompted, of course, by an anti-Muslim video," end quote, put on the Internet in the United States, factually accurate?
CLINTON: I'd have to go back to my first answer, Congressman, and just say that we don't know all the motivations, so I don't want to give a sweeping answer as to what prompted those men to come out that night and attack our compound.
BROOKS: OK. Well, on September 16th, the very same day, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice made her statements to the American people and the world. Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf said on NPR that, quote, "The idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that had just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous. We firmly believe that this was a pre-calculated, pre- planned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the United States consulate," end quote.
Now, as we now know, from everything I have read at least, the Libyan president told the truth. Contrast that with the statements by Ambassador Rice, to the United Nations. It forces one to wonder whether Libya's intelligence was that much better than America's on September the 16th, or whether Libyan leaders were that much more willing to be candid or to avoid misstatements.
Secretary Clinton, what evidence was there that was so compelling that it caused the White House, through Ambassador Susan Rice, to make these representations about spontaneous protests, anti-Muslim videos and the like, despite evidence and statements of Libya's own president to the contrary? What -- you know, if she's going to make these statements, an affirmative act on her part, where was the compelling evidence and what was it?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I was not involved in the so-called "talking points process." My understanding is it was a typical process trying to get to the best information available. It was an intelligence product. They are, as I again understand it, working with their committees of jurisdiction to try to unpack that. But I will say that all of the senior administration officials, including Ambassador Rice, who spoke publicly to this terrible incident, had the same information from the intelligence community.
BROOKS: If I might interject -- I appreciate your response so far. But if you're not familiar with any compelling evidence that would support the statements made by Ambassador Rice, who would know?
CLINTON: Well, there -- there was evidence, and the evidence was being sifted and analyzed by the intelligence community, which is why the intelligence community was the principal decider about what went into talking points. And there was also the added problem of nobody wanting to say things that would undermine the investigation.
So it was much more complex than I think we're giving it credit for, sir.
BROOKS: Thank you for your candor, and thank you for your time...
ROYCE: The ranking member and I have discussed going to three minutes for questions from here on out. And without objection, that's what we will do.
Let's go to Mr. Bera from California.
BERA: Secretary Clinton, thank you for appearing before the committee today.
As a new member of Congress, I think I speak for all the freshmen that we're not gonna get much time to serve with you, but we hope in a few years we'll get that chance to serve again.
You know, from my perspective, the tragedy in Benghazi was the loss of four American patriots. That loss was felt pretty deeply in northern California, particularly around Ambassador Chris Stevens. You know, his family had deep roots in our community. The best way for us to honor their memory and their service is to do our utmost to make sure the lessons of Benghazi -- and do everything that we can to honor and -- and protect our men and women around the world in an increasingly dangerous situation.
You've been very forthright today and forthcoming with information. We truly appreciate that.
You know, much has been made today about the flow of information, but I want to quote the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen who said after the ARB was issued, "As someone who has run large organizations -- and the secretary of state has been very clear about taking responsibility here -- it was, from my perspective, not reasonable in terms of having a specific level of knowledge that was very specifically resident in her staff and over time certainly didn't bring that to her attention." That was Admiral Mike Mullen. Secretary, how many cables did you say arrived every year to the State Department, 1.4 million? Can you tell me how long it takes you to read 1.4 million cables?
CLINTON: Well, if I'd ever tried to read 1.4 million cables, I don't think I'd be sitting here today. I'd probably be, you know, collapsed somewhere.
You know, I appreciate what Admiral Mullen said, because when you do sit on top of large organizations -- in his case the United States military, which is huge -- and in my case the State Department and USAID, you put into place processes and you have to trust the judgment, the good sense of the people in your organization.
So those 1.43 million cables, they come into the State Department. You know, the tradition is they're all addressed to me, but, you know, the vast, vast majority are funneled through these processes to get to the right people who are expected to take the right actions.
And 99.9 percent of the time people do. I want to reiterate that. It's -- it's an incredible organization with dedicated people, particularly our security professionals who have stopped so many attack, protected so many people.
But occasionally we see a serious problem like we have seen here. And that's what we're trying to fix.
BERA: Well, thank you for your candor.
CLINTON: Thank you, sir.
ROYCE; Mr. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
COTTON: Good afternoon, Madam Secretary. Thank you for coming. We're all here -- very happy to have you here. Very happy for your recovery. I know I bring greetings from many of our mutual friends in Arkansas, some of our peers on the other side have expressed their ambitions for your future.
I'd like to say that I just wish you'd won the Democratic primary in 2008.
CLINTON: I did pretty well in Arkansas.
COTTON: You did.
You said on September 21st that we will not rest until we have tracked down and brought to justice the terrorists who murdered the four Americans at Benghazi.
CLINTON: Yes, sir.
COTTON: Earlier today you said I certainly hope the FBI is able to investigate (inaudible) those responsible. Does the difference in those two statements reflect any concern on your part of the progress of that investigation?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, first congratulations...
COTTON: Thank you.
CLINTON: ... and good to see you here.
No, it does not, but I -- I am conscious of the fact that talking about FBI investigations is something you have to be extremely careful about for obvious reasons.
I think it's -- it's clear or I hope it's clear that President Obama, when he says we're gonna bring people to justice, even if it takes some time, he means what he say. Obviously, the FBI is conducting an investigation. What actions are taken will be determined in the future.
COTTON: What is the United States government's position on the role of Al Qaida in Islamic Maghreb in the attack on Benghazi?
CLINTON: Again I'm not going to prejudge what the FBI determines. We know there are Al Qaida-related organizations as we saw from the -- the pictures that were held up throughout the region including in Eastern Libya. We know that people like we saw with the recent attacks in Algeria like to associate themselves with Al Qaida, but we've got to be careful about what that means.
Core Al Qaida has been severely depleted coming out of Afghanistan and Pakistan. What we're dealing with now is the jihaddists who have been associated with Al Qaida who have gained, unfortunately, very serious combat experience, coming back to the countries that they left, in order to go wage jihad in central Asia.
So whether they call themselves Al Qaida, or Boka Haram (ph), or Ansar Al Shari'a (ph), they are all part of the same global jihaddist movement. And there may be differences between them, but their goals are unfortunately the similar and pose similar threats to us and our partners.
COTTON: Both the chairman and Mr. Poe have referenced a Tunisian suspect who's been released. I believe that's Mr. Ali Harzi (ph), on January 8th, it was reported in the New York Times.
Is -- do you find it distressing that the Tunisian government has released that gentleman in light of the hundreds of millions of dollars of aid we've given them over the last two years? CLINTON: At this point, Congressman, I do not for two reasons. First, I had a long conversation with high-ranking Tunisian officials about this, as did Director Mueller of the FBI when he was there in person. We have been assured there was an effort to have rule of law, judicial process, sufficient evidence not yet available to be presented, but a very clear commitment made to us that they will be monitoring the whereabouts of the -- Harzi (ph) and we're going to hold them to that and watch carefully.
COTTON: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
ROYCE: Mr. Lowenthal of California.
LOWENTHAL: Thank you -- thank you Madam Secretary. First, I also want to compliment you on your exemplary service, but more than that I want to say how much I've appreciated your openness, your thoughtfulness today, your transparency. And What I'm struck with in this hearing is a greater appreciation of the courage of State Department personnel. I think I -- we are left with that understanding of just how courageous the personnel have been in taking on assignments that in the past never had been taken on before. And you've ably I think presented to us why that's important. Why it's important for emerging democracies that we be there.
My question is very similar to the one of Congressman Schneider's. And that was, how do you make that analysis between risk and presence? What are some of the obstacles in making that? How -- -- how do we move forward with that, and how does the Congress understand some of those -- that kind of balance?
CLINTON: Well, this is my ongoing hope that we can get it more right than wrong. Let me just make a few points, because it's an issue that I hope this committee takes very seriously.
First of all, you've got to remember that when we talk about the State Department and diplomatic facilities, that covers -- we are the umbrella for so many other agencies in our government. If we were not there, many of those agency's representatives would have a difficult time being there. I mean, we are the diplomatic presence that permits us to pursue law enforcement objectives, intelligence objectives, military objectives, and so much more.
So it's not just about us sitting around and say, you know, do we really want our diplomats at risk? It's OK, what are the equities of the rest of the government that would be effective (sic) if we decided we had to close shop because the risk was too great?
I want to stress that because I don't think you can understand, at least from my perspective, how difficult the calculation is without knowing that it's not just about the State Department and USAID.
Secondly, I don't think we can retreat from these hard places. We have to harden our security presence, but we can't retreat. We've got to be there. We've got to be picking up the intelligence, information, building relationships And if we had a whole table of some of our most experienced ambassadors sitting here today, they would be speaking with a loud chorus,like, you know, yes, help us be secure, but don't shut us down. Don't keep us behind high walls in bunkers, so we can't get out and figure out what's going on.
So that's the -- that's the balance I've been trying to make for four years. ROYCE: We will only have time for two more questions. We will end at 5:00.
We'll go now to Mr. Cook from California.
COOK: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
First of all, I want to compliment you. It's been a long, long day, and to survive all these questions and everything, it's been tough.
I want to talk to you about the Marine security guards. And this is from somebody who spent a long time in the Marine Corps, but not under the cognizance -- part of DOD, not under the State Department.
And you had some things in here about additional Marine secure -- excuse me, Marine security guard detachments.
CLINTON: Yes, sir.
COOK: And the question is about whether it's prudent to task organize those assets that are organic to you, and perhaps put them in those areas that have the high-threat level? And if you could answer that, I'd appreciate that.
CLINTON: Congressman, it's a -- it's a very astute observation. I mean, we believe that we need to increase both our Marine security guard detachments as well as our Diplomatic Security, and create more synergy and cooperation in these high-threat posts.
The Marine security guards, as -- as you know, are very, very much a presence on more than 150 of our posts. And in order to give them the facilities and support they need, they need a Marine house. They need to be very close to the embassy.
Because as -- if you ever -- if you saw the recent movie "Argo," you saw the Marines in there, you know, destroying the classified material when the mob was outside in Tehran.
They are experts at that. They are people that are totally relied on by the entire mission.
But, as I said earlier, historically their job has not been personal security. So we've got to figure out, working with DOD and particularly with the Marines, you know -- and most of them are very young. You know, I take pictures with them everywhere I go. And usually the sergeant's a, you know, older, more experienced, but most of the, you know, the Marines on duty are quite young.
We've got to figure out how we really take advantage of their presence. And that's a conversation we're in the midst of with our -- our DOD colleagues.
And with your experience, I would welcome any insight or ideas you've got about how we really do use Marine security detachments better.
COOK: Thank you very much. I yield back my time. ROYCE: Thank you.
We'll go to Grace Meng from New York.
CLINTON: Congratulations, too, Grace.
MENG: Thank you for -- thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member.
Madam Secretary, it's wonderful to see you here again. And if you have any advice for a fellow New Yorker finding her way in her -- in this town, please let me know.
As a woman and as a mom, thank you so much for being a role model for women not only in the United States, but all throughout the world. Thank you for your compassion and leadership, always.
I'm curious. In the past weeks, we've seen the French respond decisively to the situation in Mali. The African Union has fought well in Somalia.
Do you see this as an advancement of multilateralism in combating Islamic extremism in the Mideast? In Africa? And what more can we ask from allies in that area?
CLINTON: Well, congratulations, Grace. And that's an excellent question, because I think that's exactly what we're coping with right now is, I'm very proud of the work we did on -- with African nations to stand up, financially support and train the AMISUN (ph) force that has driven Al Shabaan (ph) out of the dominant position that it had.
That meant putting American trainers, working with troops from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, eventually Kenya, advising some other countries that were willing to put in assets. It took money. It took time. But we just recognized the new Somali government, which could never have been possible without American support and multilateralism. Because the U.N. was strongly behind it, we got other nations to invest.
What we're looking at now in west Africa is to try to help support an African A-U (inaudible), ECOWAS-supported troop combination from a number of countries, to really take the lead against the terrorists in northern Mali. Again, this is, you know, this is hard. If the United States comes in and does something on our own, and I appreciated what Congressman Kinzinger said, you know, we -- you know, nobody can match us in military assets and prowess.
But a lot of the challenges we face are not immediately or sustainably solved by military action alone. Therefore, we've got to get countries in the region to increase their border security, to increase their antiterrorist, counterterrorist efforts inside their own borders.
We have a lot to do now in west Africa. So I think you're right to point out the United States has to play a role, but it needs to be part of a multilateral effort in order to have a chance of success.
ROYCE: Thank you, Madam Secretary. We've discussed many important issues. I remain concerned about whether the accountability review board captured the full picture of what happened, but I think we can agree to work together moving ahead to improve security in a number of different areas.
This hearing now stands adjourned.
CLINTON: Thank you.