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Clinton Defends Commitment To Security In Benghazi Hearing


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, in Washington on January 23.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has defended her department's commitment to security in a congressional hearing on last year's attack on a U.S. mission in Libya.

Clinton told a Senate committee on January 23 that the State Department was moving quickly and aggressively to improve security at diplomatic missions across the world.

"It's also important to recall that in that same period we were seeing violent attacks on our embassies in Cairo, Sanaa, Tunis, Khartoum, as well as large protests outside many other posts where thousands of our diplomats serve," she said.

"So I immediately ordered a review of our security posture around the world with particular scrutiny for high-threat posts. 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-threat posts, so missions in dangerous places get the attention they need."

The security review follows the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

She said that the FBI was "following some very promising leads" in its probe into the attack.

And she angrily rejected Republican accusations that the administration had sought to cover up events surrounding the attack.

"For me this is not just a matter of policy. It's personal. I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews [Air Force Base]," Clinton said.

"I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers the sons and daughters and the wives left alone to raise their children."

Clinton told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that as the United States' top diplomat she took full responsibility for the department's missteps in the lead-up to the attack on the consulate in Benghazi.

"As I have said many times, I take responsibility and nobody is more committed to getting this right," she said. "I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure."

Clinton had been scheduled to testify last month but she suffered a series of medical problems, including a blood clot in her head.

Her testimony comes as Clinton prepares to step down as secretary of state. U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Senator John Kerry to replace her.

The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, withdrew her name from consideration as a possible successor to Clinton after she was harshly criticized for suggesting the Benghazi incident appeared to be the result of a spontaneous demonstration rather than a planned attack.
With reporting by AP and Reuters
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