During the weeks before the November presidential election, questions about the Sept. 11 attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans came primarily from Republicans.
Few Democrats were willing to question their president’s administration just before a critical election.
And if outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s testimony this past week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was any indication, it seems few Democrats are willing to probe much deeper in this issue now.
During the Wednesday hearing, a combative Clinton, while accepting responsibility for the death of the four Americans, certainly did not accept the blame. Clinton told the mainly Republican questioners that while Ambassador Chris Stevens’ and others’ requests for more security at the embassy should not have been denied, she did not herself see those requests. “They did not come to me,” she said.
It is strange – and upsetting – that State Department officials would take it upon themselves to deny these requests for additional security from a high-ranking U.S. official serving in a dangerous part of the world without passing them along to Clinton.
And it is also upsetting that once the attack was carried out, administration officials said it was not a terrorist attack, but a spontaneous attack by an angry mob of Libyans because of some obscure anti-Muslim movie.
In a heated exchange with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., over this point, Clinton said, “What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator.”
While we have no doubt Clinton’s emotion was real when she described meeting the family of Americans killed in this attack, if she is serious about preventing this type of tragedy in the future, we suggest State Department officials take much more seriously requests for security when they are received – and make sure the Secretary of State sees them and signs off on any denial of security.