Clinton takes blame for US deaths
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton is taking responsibility for security at the US consulate in Libya where an attack by extremists last month killed the US ambassador and three other Americans.
Pushing back against Republican criticism of the Obama administration for its handling of the situation, Mrs Clinton said in Lima, Peru, that security at all of America’s diplomatic missions abroad is her job, not that of the White House.
With only weeks before the presidential election, the outrage has crystallised around vice-president Joe Biden for claiming in last week’s debate with Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan that “we weren’t told” about requests for extra security at the consulate where attackers killed the ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Congressional hearings revealed that the State Department was aware of, and rejected, several requests for increased security in Benghazi.
Spokesmen for both the State Department and the White House took pains to make clear that Mr Biden’s “we” referred to the White House, where such requests would not go.
There are three separate investigations into the attack going on now: an FBI inquiry into the deaths of the four Americans, an independent inquiry by a panel appointed by Mrs Clinton and the congressional hearings.
Ambassador Chris Stevens was among the four killed in the attack, which came on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington.
In television interviews, Mrs Clinton said she is responsible for State Department security. She told Fox News that “the decisions about security are made by security professionals”.
“I take responsibility,” she told CNN. “I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world (at) 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They’re the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision.”
Bloomberg News reported that ambassador Stevens’ father said he believes his son’s death is being investigated adequately and that it would be “abhorrent to make this into a campaign issue”.