Hillary Clinton’s testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi lasted longer than all three Lord of the Rings movies combined, longer than a binge-watch of an entire season of True Detective, longer, even, than one hundred replays of Stairway to Heaven, and at the end of it all, committee chair Trey Gowdy was asked what new information was learned. Here’s the hilarious short version:
And here’s the in-depth long version:
Your tax dollars at work.
In case you missed it, here’s the full video and transcript of Hillary Clinton’s testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi:
GOWDY: Good morning. The committee will come to order.
The chair notes the presence of a quorum.
Good morning. Welcome, Madam Secretary. Welcome to each of you. This is a public hearing of the Benghazi Select Committee.
Just a couple of quick administrative matters before we start.
Madam Secretary, there are predetermined breaks, but I want to make it absolutely clear we can take a break for any reason or for no reason. If you or anyone, just simply alert me, then we will take a break and it can be for any reason or for no reason.
To our guests, we are happy to have you here. The witness deserves to hear the questions and the members deserve to hear the answers. So proper decorum must be observed at all times — no reaction to questions or answers, no disruptions. Some committees take an incremental approach to decorum. I do not. This is your one and only notice.
Madam Secretary, the ranking member and I will give opening statements and then you will be recognized for your opening statement. And then after that, the members will alternate from one side to the other. And because you have already been sworn, we will go straight to your opening. So I will now recognize myself and then recognize Mr. Cummings, and then you, Madam Secretary.
Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods served this country with courage and with honor. And they were killed under circumstances that most of us could never imagine. Terrorists poured through the front gate of an American facility, attacking people and property with machine guns, mortars, and fire. It is important that we remember how these four men died. It is equally important that we remember how these four men lived and why.
They were more than four images on a television screen. They were husbands and fathers and sons and brothers and family and friends. They were Americans who believed in service and sacrifice. Many people speak wistfully of a better world, but do little about it. These four went out and actually tried to make it better and it cost them their lives.
So we know what they gave us. What do we owe them?
GOWDY: Justice for those that killed them. We owe their families our everlasting gratitude, respect. We owe them and each other the truth — the truth about why we were in Libya, the truth about what we were doing in Libya, the truth about the escalating violence in Libya before we were attacked and these four men were killed, the truth about requests for additional security, the truth about requests for additional personnel, the truth about requests for additional equipment, the truth about where and why our military was positioned as it was on the anniversary of 9/11, the truth about what was happening and being discussed in Washington while our people were under attack, the truth about what led to the attacks, and the truth about what our government told the American people after the attacks.
Why were there so many requests for more security personnel and equipment, and why were those requests denied in Washington? Why did the State Department compound and facility not even come close to meeting proper security specifications? What policies were we pursuing in Libya that required a physical presence in spite of the escalating violence?
Who in Washington was aware of the escalating violence? What precautions, if any, were taken on the anniversary of 9/11? What happened in Washington after the first attack? And what was our response to that attack?
What did the military do or not do? What did our leaders in Washington do or not do, and when? Why was the American public given such divergent accounts of what caused these attacks, and why is it so hard to get information from the very government these four men represented, served and sacrificed for?
Even after an Accountability Review Board and a half dozen congressional investigations, these and other questions still lingered. These questions linger, because previous investigations were thorough. These questions lingered because those previous investigations were narrow in scope, and either incapable or unwilling to access the facts and evidence necessary to answer all relevant questions.
So the House of Representatives, including some Democrats I hasten to add, asked this committee to write the final accounting of what happened in Benghazi. This committee is the first committee to review more than 50,000 pages of documents, because we insisted that they be produced. This committee is the first committee to demand access to more eyewitnesses, because serious investigations talk to as many eyewitnesses as possible. This committee is the first committee to thoroughly and individually interview scores of other witnesses, many of them for the first time. This committee is the first committee to review thousands of pages of documents from top State Department personnel. This committee is the first committee to demand access to relevant documents from the CIA, the FBI, the Department Of Defense and even the White House.
This committee is the first committee to demand access to the e- mails to and from Ambassador Chris Stevens. How could an investigation possibly be considered serious without reviewing the e- mails of the person most knowledgeable about Libya?
This committee is the first committee, the only committee, to uncover the fact that Secretary Clinton exclusively used personnel e- mail on her own personal server for official business and kept the public record, including e-mails about Benghazi and Libya, in her own custody and control for almost two years after she left office.
You will hear a lot today about the Accountability Review Board. Secretary Clinton has mentioned it more than 70 times in her previous testimony before Congress. But when you hear about the ARB, you should know the State Department leadership hand picked the members of the ARB.
The ARB never interviewed secretary Clinton. The ARB never reviewed her e-mails. And Secretary Clinton’s top adviser was allowed to review and suggest changes to the ARB before the public ever saw it. There’s no transcript of ARB interviews. So, it’s impossible to mow whether all relevant questions were asked and answered. Because there’s no transcript, it is also impossible to cite the ARB interviews with any particularity at all.
That is not independent. That is not accountability. That is not a serious investigation. You will hear there were previous congressional investigations into Benghazi. And that is true. It should make you wonder why those investigations failed to interview so many witnesses and access so many documents.
If those previous congressional investigations were really serious and thorough, how did they miss Ambassador Stevens’ e-mails? If those previous investigations were serious and thorough, how did they miss Secretary Clinton’s e-mails? If those congressional investigations really were serious and thorough, why did they fail to interview dozens of key State Department witnesses, including agents on the ground who experienced the attacks firsthand?
GOWDY: Just last month, three years after Benghazi, top aides finally returned documents to the State Department. A month ago, this committee received 1,500 new pages of Secretary Clinton’s e-mails related to Libya and Benghazi, three years after the attacks.
A little over two weeks ago, this committee received nearly 1,400 pages of Ambassador Stevens’ e-mails, three years after the attacks. It is impossible to conduct a serious fact-centric investigation without access to the documents from the former Secretary of State, the ambassador who knew more about Libya than anybody else and testimony from witnesses who survived the attacks.
Madam Secretary, I understand there are people frankly in both parties who have suggested that this investigation is about you. Let me assure you it is not. And let me assure you why it is not. This investigation is about four people who were killed representing our country on foreign soil.
It is about what happened before, during and after the attacks that killed them. It is about what this country owes to those who risk their lives to serve it. And it is about the fundamental obligation of government to tell the truth always to the people that it purports to represent.
Madam Secretary, not a single member of this committee signed up to investigate you or your e-mail. We signed up to investigate and therefore honor the lives of four people that we sent into a dangerous country to represent us. And to do everything we can to prevent it from happening to others. Our committee has interviewed half a 100 witnesses. Not a single one of them has been named Clinton until today.
You were the secretary of state for this country at all relevant times. So, of course, the committee is going to want to talk to you. You are an important witness. You are one important witness among half a hundred important witnesses. And I do understand you wanted to come sooner than today. So let me be clear why that did not happen.
You had an unusual e-mail arrangement which meant the State Department could not produce your e-mails to us. You made exclusive use of personal e-mail and a personal server. And when you left the State Department, you kept the public record to yourself for almost two years. And it was you and your attorneys who decided what to return and what to delete. Those decisions were your decisions, not our decisions. It was only in March of this year we learned of this e-mail arrangement. And since we learned of this e-mail arrangement, we have interviewed dozens of witnesses, only one of whom was solely related to your e-mail arrangement. And that was the shortest interview of all, because that witness invoked his fifth amendment privilege against incrimination.
Making sure the public record is complete is what we serious investigations do. It’s important and remains important that this committee have access to all of Ambassador Stevens’ e-mails, the e- mails of senior leaders and witnesses and it is important to gain access to all of your e-mails, Madam Secretary.
Your e-mails are no less or no more important than the e-mails of anyone else. It just took us a little bit longer to get them and it garnered a little more attention in the process. I want you to take note during this hearing how many times congressional Democrats call on this administration to make long awaited documents available to us. They won’t.
Take note of how many witnesses congressional Democrats ask us to schedule for interview. They won’t. We would be closer to finding out what happened and writing the final definitive report if Democrats on this committee had helped us just a little bit pursue the facts. But if the Democrats on this committee had their way, dozens of witnesses never would have been interviewed, your public record would still be private.
Thousands of documents would never be accessed and we wouldn’t have the e-mails of our own ambassador. That may be smart politics, but it is a lousy way to run a serious investigation.
There are certain characteristics that make our country unique in the annals of history. We are the greatest experiment in self- governance the world has ever known, and part of that self-governance comes self-scrutiny, even of the highest officials.
GOWDY: Our country is strong enough to handle the truth and our fellow citizens expect us to pursue the truth wherever the facts take us.
So this committee is going to do what we pledged to do and what should have been done, frankly, a long time ago, which is interview all relevant witnesses, examine all relevant evidence, and access all relevant documents. And we’re going to pursue the truth in a manner worthy of the memory of the four people who lost their lives and worthy of the respect of our fellow citizens.
And we are going to write that final definitive accounting of what happened in Benghazi. We would like to do it with your help and the help of our Democrat colleagues, but make no mistake, we are going to do it nonetheless. Because understanding what happened in Benghazi goes to the heart of who we are as a country and the promises we make to those that we send into harm’s way. They deserve the truth. They deserve the whole truth. They deserve nothing but the truth. The people we work for deserve the truth. The friends and family of the four who lost their lives deserve the truth.
We’re going to find the truth because there is no statute of limitations on the truth.
With that, I would recognize my friend my Maryland.
CUMMINGS: The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Madam Secretary, I want to thank you very much for being here today to testify before Congress on this very important issue. This is your third time. This week, our chairman, Mr. Gowdy, was interviewed in a lengthy media profile. During his interview, he complained that he was, and I quote, he “has an impossible job.” That’s what the chairman said — “impossible job.” He said it’s impossible to conduct a serious, fact-centric investigation in such a, quote, “political environment.”
I have great respect for the chairman, but on this score he is absolutely wrong. In fact, it has been done by his own Republican colleagues in the House on this very issue, Benghazi. The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee conducted an extensive, bipartisan, two-year investigation and issued a detailed report.
The Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Homeland Security Committee also conducted a bipartisan investigation. Those bipartisan efforts respected and honored the memories of the four brave Americans who gave their lives in Benghazi: Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
The problem is that the Republican caucus did not like the answers they got from those investigations, so they set up this select committee with no rules, no deadline, and an unlimited budget. And they set them loose, Madam Secretary, because you’re running for president.
Clearly, it is possible to conduct a serious, bipartisan investigation. What is impossible is for any reasonable person to continue denying that Republicans are squandering millions of taxpayer dollars on this abusive effort to derail Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
In the chairman’s interview, he tried to defend against this criticism by attempting to cast himself as the victim. And he complained about attacks on the credibility of the select committee.
CUMMINGS: His argument would be more compelling if Republicans weren’t leading the charge. As we all know, Representative Kevin McCarthy, Speaker Boehner’s second in command and the chairman’s close friend admitted that they established the select committee to drive down Secretary Clinton’s poll numbers. Democrats didn’t say that. The second in command in the House said that, a Republican.
Republican Congressman Richard Hanna said the Select Committee was, quote, “designed — designed to go after Secretary Clinton.” And one of the chairman’s own, hand-picked investigators, a self- proclaimed conservative Republican, charged that he was fired in part for not going along with these plans to, quote, “hyper-focus on Hillary Clinton,” end of quote.
These stark admissions reflect exactly what we have seen inside the Select Committee for the past year. Let’s just look at the facts. Since January, Republicans have canceled every single hearing on our schedule for the entire year except for this one, Secretary Clinton. They also canceled numerous interviews that they had planned with the Defense Department and the CIA officials.
Instead of doing that, they said they were going — what they were going to do, Republicans zeroed in on Secretary Clinton, her speech writers, her I.T. staffers and her campaign officials.
This is what the Republicans did, not the Democrats. When Speaker Boehner established this Select Committee, he justified it by arguing that it would, quote, “cross jurisdictional lines.” I assume he meant we would focus on more than just secretary of State.
But, Madam Secretary, you are sitting there by yourself. The Secretary Of Defense is not on your left. The director of the CIA is not on your right. That’s because Republicans abandoned their own plans to question those top officials.
So, instead of being cross jurisdictional, Republicans just crossed them off the list. Last weekend, the chairman told the Republican colleagues to shut up and stop talking about the Select Committee.
What I want to know is this. And this is a key question. Why tell the Republicans to shut up when they are telling the truth, but not when they are attacking Secretary Clinton with reckless accusations that are demonstrably false? Why not tell them to shut up then? Carly Fiorina has said that Secretary Clinton has blood on her hands. Mike Huckabee accused her of ignoring the warning calls from dying Americans in Benghazi. Senator Ryan Paul said Benghazi was a 3 a.m. phone call that she never picked up. And Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted, where the hell were you on the night of the Benghazi attack?
Everyone on this panel knows these accusations are baseless, from our own investigation and all those before it. Yet Republican members of this Select Committee remain silent.
On Monday, the Democrats issued a report showing that none of the 54 witnesses the committee interviewed substantiated these wild Republican claims. Secretary Clinton did not order the military to stand down, and she neither approved nor denied requests for additional security.
I ask our report be included in the official report for the hearing. Mr. Chairman.
GOWDY: Without objection.
CUMMINGS: What is so telling is that we issued virtually the same report a year ago. Same report. When we first joined the Select Committee, I asked my staff to put together a complete report and database setting forth the questions that have been asked about the attacks and all of the answers that were provided in the eight previous investigations.
I asked that this report also be included in the record, Mr. Chairman.
GOWDY: Without objection.
CUMMINGS: The problem is that rather than accepting these facts, Republicans continue to spin new conspiracy theories that are just as outlandish and inaccurate.
For example, the chairman recently tried to argue that Sidney Blumenthal was Secretary Clinton’s adviser on Libya. And this past Sunday, Representative Pompeo claimed on national television that Secretary Clinton relied on Sidney Blumenthal for most of her intelligence on Libya. Earlier this week, the Washington Post fact checker awarded this claim four Pinocchios, its worst rating.
Here is the bottom line. The Select Committee has spent 17 months and $4.7 million of taxpayer money. We have held four hearings and conducted 54 interviews and depositions. Yes, we have received some new e-mails from Secretary Clinton, Ambassador Stevens and others. And yes, we have conducted some new interviews.
But these documents and interviews do not show any nefarious activity. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The new information we obtained confirms and corroborates the core facts we already knew from eight previous investigations. They provide more detail, but they do not change the basic conclusions. It is time — it is time, and it is time now, for the Republicans to end this taxpayer-funded fishing expedition. We need to come together and shift from politics to policy. That’s what the American people want, shifting from politics to policy.
We need to finally make good on our promises to the families. And the families only asked us to do three things. One, do not make this a political football. Two, find the facts. Three, do everything in your power to make sure that this does not happen again.
And so we need to start focusing on what we here in Congress can do to improve the safety and security of our diplomatic corps in the future.
And with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
GOWDY: The chair thanks the gentleman from Maryland.
Madam Secretary, you are recognized for your opening statement.
CLINTON: Thank you Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Cummings, members of this committee.
The terrorist attacks at our diplomatic compound and later, at the CIA post in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, took the lives of four brave Americans, Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty And Tyrone Woods.
I’m here to honor the service of those four men. The courage of the Diplomatic Security Agency and the CIA officers who risked their lives that night. And the work their colleagues do every single day all over the world.
I knew and admired Chris Stevens. He was one of our nation’s most accomplished diplomats. Chris’ mother liked to say he had “sand in his shoes,” because he was always moving, always working, especially in the Middle East that he came to know so well.
When the revolution broke out in Libya, we named Chris as our envoy to the opposition. There was no easy way to get him into Benghazi to begin gathering information and meeting those Libyans who were rising up against the murderous dictator Gadhafi. But he found a way to get himself there on a Greek cargo ship, just like a 19th- century American envoy.
But his work was very much 21st-century, hard-nosed diplomacy.
CLINTON: It is a testament to the relationships that he built in Libya that on the day following the awareness of his death, tens of thousands of Libyans poured into the streets in Benghazi. They held signs reading, “Thugs don’t represent Benghazi or Islam,” “Sorry, people of America, this is not the behavior of our Islam or our prophet,” “Chris Stevens, a friend to all Libyans.”
Although I didn’t have the privilege of meeting Sean Smith personally, he was a valued member of our State Department family. An Air Force veteran, he was an information management officer who had served in Pretoria, Baghdad, Montreal and the Hague.
Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty worked for the CIA. They were killed by mortar fire at the CIA’s outpost in Benghazi, a short distance from the diplomatic compound. They were both former Navy SEALs and trained paramedics with distinguished records of service including in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As secretary of State, I had the honor to lead and the responsibility to support nearly 70,000 diplomats and development experts across the globe. Losing any one of them, as we did in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mexico, Haiti and Libya, during my tenure was deeply painful for our entire State Department and USAID family and for me personally. I was the one who asked Chris to go to Libya as our envoy. I was the one who recommended him to be our ambassador to the president.
After the attacks, I stood next to President Obama as Marines carried his casket and those of the other three Americans off the plane at Andrews Air Force Base. I took responsibility, and as part of that, before I left office, I launched reforms to better protect our people in the field and help reduce the chance of another tragedy happening in the future.
What happened in Benghazi has been scrutinized by a non-partisan hard-hitting Accountability Review Board, seven prior congressional investigations, multiple news organizations and, of course, our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. So today, I would like to share three observations about how we can learn from this tragedy and move forward as a nation.
First, America must lead in a dangerous world, and our diplomats must continue representing us in dangerous places. The State Department sends people to more than 270 posts in 170 countries around the world. Chris Stevens understood that diplomats must operate in many places where our soldiers do not, where there are no other boots on the ground and safety is far from guaranteed. In fact, he volunteered for just those assignments.
He also understood we will never prevent every act of terrorism or achieve perfect security and that we inevitably must accept a level of risk to protect our country and advance our interests and values. And make no mistake, the risks are real. Terrorists have killed more than 65 American diplomatic personnel since the 1970s and more than 100 contractors and locally employed staff.
Since 2001, there have been more than 100 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world. But if you ask our most experienced ambassadors, they’ll tell you they can’t do their jobs for us from bunkers. It would compound the tragedy of Benghazi if Chris Stevens’ death and the death of the other three Americans ended up undermining the work to which he and they devoted their lives.
We have learned the hard way when America is absent, especially from unstable places, there are consequences. Extremism take root, aggressors seek to fill the vacuum and security everywhere is threatened, including here at home. That’s why Chris was in Benghazi. It’s why he had served previously in Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem during the second intifada.
Nobody knew the dangers of Libya better. A weak government, extremist groups, rampant instability. But Chris chose to go to Benghazi because he understood America had to be represented there at that pivotal time. He knew that eastern Libya was where the revolution had begun and that unrest there could derail the country’s fragile transition to democracy. And if extremists gained a foothold, they would have the chance to destabilize the entire region, including Egypt and Tunisia. He also knew how urgent it was to ensure that the weapons Gadhafi had left strewn across the country, including shoulder-fired missiles that could knock an airplane out of the sky, did not fall into the wrong hands. The nearest Israeli airport is just a day’s drive from the Libyan border.
Above all, Chris understood that most people in Libya or anywhere reject the extremists’ argument that violence can ever be a path to dignity or justice. That’s what those thousands of Libyans were saying after they learned of his death. And he understood there was no substitute for going beyond the embassy walls and doing the hard work of building relationships.
Retreat from the world is not an option. America cannot shrink from our responsibility to lead. That doesn’t mean we should ever return to the go-it-alone foreign policy of the past, a foreign policy that puts boots on the ground as a first choice rather than a last resort. Quite the opposite. We need creative, confident leadership that harnesses all of America’s strengths and values, leadership that integrates and balances the tools of diplomacy, development and defense.
And at the heart of that effort must be dedicated professionals like Chris Stevens and his colleagues who put their lives on the line for a country, our country, because they believed, as I do, that America is the greatest force for peace and progress the world has ever known. My second observation is this. We have a responsibility to provide our diplomats with the resources and support they need to do their jobs as safely and effectively as possible. After previous deadly attacks, leaders from both parties and both branches of government came together to determine what went wrong and how to fix it for the future.
That’s what happened during the Reagan administration, when Hezbollah attacked our embassy and killed 63 people, including 17 Americans, and then in a later attack attacked our Marine barracks and killed so many more. Those two attacks in Beirut resulted in the deaths of 258 Americans.
It’s what happened during the Clinton administration, when Al Qaida bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing more than 200 people, wounding more than 2,000 people and killing 12 Americans.
And it’s what happened during the Bush administration after 9/11.
Part of America’s strength is we learn, we adapt and we get stronger.
CLINTON: After the Benghazi attacks, I asked Ambassador Thomas Pickering, one of our most distinguished and longest serving diplomats, along with Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — appointed by President George W. Bush — to lead an accountability review board.
This is an institution that the Congress set up after the terrible attacks in Beirut. There have been 18 previous accountability review boards. Only two have ever made any of their findings public — the one following the attacks on our embassies in East Africa, and the one following the attack on Benghazi.
The accountability review board did not pull a single punch. They sound systemic problems and management deficiencies in two State Department bureaus. And the review board recommended 29 specific improvements. I pledged that by the time I left office, every one would be on the way to implementation and they were.
More Marines were slated for deployment to high-threat embassies. Additional diplomatic security agents were being hired and trained. And Secretary Kerry has continued this work.
But there is more to do and no administration can do it alone. Congress has to be our partner, as it has been after previous tragedies. For example, the accountability review board and subsequent investigations have recommended improved training for our officers before they deploy to the field. But efforts to establish a modern joint training center are being held up by Congress. The men and women who serve our country deserve better.
Finally, there is one more observation I’d like to share. I traveled to 112 countries as secretary of state. Every time I did, I felt great pride and honor representing the country that I love. We need leadership at home to match our leadership abroad, leadership that puts national security ahead of politics and ideology. Our nation has a long history of bipartisan cooperation on foreign policy and national security. Not that we always agree, far from it, but we do come together when it counts.
As secretary of state, I worked with the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to pass a landmark nuclear arms control treaty with Russia. I worked with the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, to open up Burma, now Myanmar, to democratic change. I know it’s possible to find common ground because I have done it. We should debate on the basis of fact, not fear. We should resist denigrating the patriotism or loyalty of those with whom we disagree. So I’m here. Despite all the previous investigations and all the talk about partisan agendas, I’m here to honor those we lost and to do what I can to aid those who serve us still.
My challenge to you, members of this committee, is the same challenge I put to myself. Let’s be worthy of the trust the American people have bestowed upon us. They expect us to lead, to learn the right lessons, to rise above partisanship and to reach for statesmanship. That’s what I tried to do every day as secretary of state and it’s what I hope we will all strive for here today and into the future.
Meet the members of the Benghazi panel
View PhotosThe group investigating the Benghazi incident is made up of seven Republicans and five Democrats.
GOWDY: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
I did not cut off your opening at all, nor would I think about doing so because the subject matter is critically important and you deserve to be heard. I would just simply note that, and I don’t plan on cutting off any of your answers — our members have questions that we believe are worthy of being answered, so I would just simply note that we do plan to ask all of the questions, and whatever precision and concision that you can give to the answers, without giving short shrift to any of the answers, would be much appreciated.
And with that, I would recognize the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Roskam.
ROSKAM: Good morning, Secretary Clinton.
Jake Sullivan, your chief foreign policy adviser, wrote a tick- tock on Libya memo on August 21, 2011. And this was the day before the rebels took Tripoli. He titles it, quote, “Secretary Clinton’s Leadership on Libya,” in which he describes you as, quote, “a critical voice” and, quote, “the public face of the U.S. effort in Libya and instrumental in tightening the noose around Gadhafi and his regime.”
But that didn’t come easy, did it? Because you faced considerable opposition, and I can pause while you’re reading your notes from your staff.
CLINTON: One thing at a time, Congressman.
ROSKAM: OK. That didn’t come easy, did it, that leadership role and that public face and so forth that I just mentioned?
CLINTON: (OFF-MIKE) this is an issue that the committee has raised. And it really boils down to why were we in Libya; why did the United States join with our NATO and European allies, join with our Arab partners to protect the people of Libya against the murderous planning of Gadhafi. Why did we take a role alongside our partners in doing so.
There were a number of reasons for that. And I think it is important to remind the American people where we were at the time when the people of Libya, like people across the region, rose up demanding freedom and democracy, a chance to chart their own futures. And Gadhafi…
ROSKAM: I take your point.
CLINTON: … Gadhafi threatened them with genocide, with hunting them down like cockroaches. And we were then approached by, with great intensity, our closest allies in Europe, people who felt very strongly — the French and the British, but others as well — that they could not stand idly by and permit that to happen so close to their shores, with the unintended consequences that they worried about.
And they asked for the United States to help. We did not immediately say yes. We did an enormous amount of due diligence in meeting with not only our European and Arab partners, but also with those were heading up what was called the Transitional National Council. And we had experienced diplomats who were digging deep into what was happening in Libya and what the possibilities were, before we agreed to provide very specific, limited help to the European and Arab efforts.
We did not put one American soldier on the ground. We did not have one casualty. And in fact, I think by many measures, the cooperation between NATO and Arab forces was quite remarkable and something that we want to learn more lessons from.
ROSKAM: Secretary Clinton, you were meeting with opposition within the State Department from very senior career diplomats in fact. And they were saying that it was going to produce a net negative for U.S. military intervention.
For example, in a March 9th, 2011 e-mail discussing what has become known as the Libya options memo, Ambassador Stephen Mull, then the executive secretary of the State Department and one of the top career diplomats, said this, “In the case of our diplomatic history, when we’ve provided material or tactical military support to people seeking to drive their leaders from power, no matter how just their cause, it’s tended to produce net negatives for our interests over the long term in those countries.”
Now, we’ll come back to that in a minute. But you overruled those career diplomats. I mean, they report to you and you’re the chief diplomat of the United States. Go ahead and read the note if you need to.
CLINTON: I have to — I have to…
ROSKAM: I’m not done with my question. I’m just giving you the courtesy of reading your notes.
CLINTON: That’s all right.
ROSKAM: All right.
They were — they were pushing back, but you overcame those objections. But then you had another big obstacle, didn’t you, and that was — that was the White House itself. There were senior voices within the White House that were opposed to military action — Vice President Biden, Department of Defense, Secretary Gates, the National Security Council and so forth.
But you persuaded President Obama to intervene militarily. Isn’t that right?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I think it’s important to point out there were many in the State Department who believed it was very much in America’s interests and in furtherance of our values to protect the Libyan people, to join with our European allies and our Arab partners. The ambassador, who had had to be withdrawn from Libya because of direct attacks — or direct threats to his physical safety, but who knew Libya very well, Ambassador Cretz, was a strong advocate for doing what we could to assist the Europeans and the Arabs.
CLINTON: I think it’s fair to say there were concerns and there were varying opinions about what to do, how to do it, and the like. At the end of the day, this was the president’s decision. And all of us fed in our views. I did not favor it until I had done, as I said, the due diligence speaking with not just people within our government and within the governments of all of the other nations who were urging us to assist them, but also meeting in-person with the gentleman who had assumed a lead role in the Transitional National Council.
So it is of course fair to say this is a difficult decision. I wouldn’t sit here and say otherwise. And there were varying points of view about it. But at the end of the day, in large measure, because of the strong appeals from our European allies, the Arab League passing resolution urging that the United States and NATO join with them, those were unprecedented requests.
And we did decide in recommending to the president there was a way to do it. The president I think, very clearly had a limited instruction about how to proceed. And the first planes that flew were French planes. And I think what the United States provided was some of our unique capacity. But the bulk of the work militarily was done by Europeans and Arabs.
ROSKAM: Well I think you are underselling yourself. You got the State Department on board. You convinced the president, you overcame the objections of Vice President Biden and Secretary of Defense Gates, the National Security Council. And you had another obstacle then, and that was the United Nations.
And you were able to persuade the Russians, of all things, to abstain, and had you not been successful in arguing that abstention, the Security Council Resolution 1973 wouldn’t have passed because the Russians had a veto. So you overcame that obstacle as well, right? Isn’t that right?
CLINTON: Well congressman, it is right that doing my due diligence and reviewing the various options and the potential consequences of pursuing each of them, I was in favor of the United States joining with our European allies and our air partners and I also was in favor of obtaining U.N. Security Council support because I thought that would provide greater legitimacy. And that of course, our ambassador to the U.N. was very influential and successful in making the case to her colleagues. But this was at the behest of the president once he was presented with the varying argument.
ROSKAM: And you presented the argument… CLINTON: Congressman, I have been in a number of situation room discussions. I remember very well, the very intense conversation over whether or not to launch the Navy SEALS against the compound we thought in (inaudible) that might house bin Laden.
There was a split in the advisers around the president. Eventually the president makes the decision. I supported doing what we could to support our European and Arab partners in their effort on a humanitarian basis, a strategic basis, to prevent Gadhafi from launching and carrying massacres.
ROSKAM: There was another obstacle that you overcame and that was the Arabs themselves. Jake Sullivan sent you an e-mail, and he said this, “I think you should call. It will be a painful 10 minutes. But you will be the one who delivered Arab support.” And that’s a Jake Sullivan e-mail of March 17th to you asking you to call the secretary general of the Arab League.
So to put this in totality, you were able to overcome opposition within the State Department. You were able to persuade the president. You were able to persuade the United Nations and the international community. You made the call to the Arabs and brought them home. You saw it. You drove it. You articulated it. And you persuaded people. Did I get that wrong?
CLINTON: Well, congressman, I was the secretary of state. My job was to conduct the diplomacy. And the diplomacy consisted of a long series of meetings and phone calls both here in our country and abroad to take the measure of what people were saying and whether they meant it.
We had heard sometimes before from countries saying, well, the United States should go do this. And when we would say, well, what would you do in support of us, there was not much coming forth. This time, if they wanted us to support them in what they saw as an action vital respective to their respective national security interests, I wanted to be sure they were going to bear the bulk of the load. And in fact, they did. What the United States did, as I said, was use our unique capacities. As I recall, if you want if you monetary terms, slightly over a billion dollars or less than we spend in Iraq in one day, is what the United States committed in support of our allies. We asked our allies to do a lot for us Congressman, they had asked is for us to help them.
ROSKAM: My time is expiring. Let me reclaim my time. Let me reclaim my time because it’s expiring. Actually, you summed it up best when you e-mailed your senior staff and you said of this interchange, you said, “It’s good to remind ourselves and the rest of the world that this couldn’t have happened without us.” And you were right, Secretary Clinton.
Our Libya policy be couldn’t have happened without you because you were its chief architect. And I said we were going to go back to Ambassador Mulls’ warning about using military for regime change, and he said, “Long-term things weren’t going to turn out very well. And he was right. After your plan, things in Libya today are a disaster. I yield back.
CLINTON: Well, we’ll have more time I’m sure to talk about this because that’s not a view that I will ascribe to.
GOWDY: Thank the gentleman from Illinois and I recognize the gentleman from Maryland.
CUMMINGS: Thank you very much Madam secretary, and again I want to thank you for being here. I want to start with the No. 1 question that Republicans claim has not been answered in eight previous investigations. Yesterday the chairman wrote an op-ed and he said, this is his top unanswered question about Benghazi. And it is, and I quote, “Why our people in Libya and Benghazi made so many requests for additional security personnel and equipment and why those requests were denied?”
I’ll give you a chance to answer in a minute. Secretary Clinton, as you know, this exact question has been asked many times and answered many times. Let’s start with the accountability review board. Now you, a moment ago you talked about Admiral Mullen. But you also appointed another very distinguished gentlemen, Ambassador Pickering.
And of course Admiral Mullen served under Republican administrations. And Ambassador Pickering, who I have a phenomenal amount of respect for, served 40 years, as you know, as part of our diplomatic core. He served under George H.W. Bush and also served as U.N. Ambassador under — he also served under Reagan.
Now, I’m just wondering — let me go back to that question. Why our people in Libya and Benghazi made so many requests, and then, I want you to comment. There seems to be an implication that the ARB, Accountability Review Board, was not independent. And I think the chairman said they were hand-picked by you, of course, that’s done by law. But I’m just — would you comment on those two things, please?
CLINTON: Yes. I’d be happy to.
Now, as I said in my opening statement, I take responsibility for what happened in Benghazi. I felt a responsibility for all 70,000 people working at the State Department in USAID. I take that very seriously. As I said with respect to security requests in Benghazi back when I testified in January 2013, those requests and issues related to security were rightly handled by the security professionals in the department.
I did not see them. I did not approve them. I did not deny them. Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen make this case very clearly in their testimony before your committee and in their public comments. These issues would not ordinarily come before the secretary of state. And they did not in this case.
As secretary, I was committed to taking aggressive measures to ensure our personnel’s and facilities were as safe as possible. And certainly when the nonpartisan critical report from the accountability review board came forward, I took it very seriously. And that’s why I embraced all of their recommendations and created a new position within the Diplomatic Security Bureau specifically to evaluate high- risk posts.
CLINTON: I think it’s important also to mention, Congressman, that the Diplomatic Security professionals who were reviewing these requests, along with those who are serving in war zones and hot spots around the world, have great expertise and experience in keeping people safe. If you go on CODELs, they are the ones who plan your trip to keep you safe.
They certainly did that for me. But most importantly, that’s what they do every day for everybody who serves our country as a diplomat or development professional.
And I was not going to second-guess them. I was not going to substitute my judgment, which is not based on experience that they have in keeping people safe, for theirs. And the changes that were recommended by the accountability review board are ones that we thought made sense and began quickly to implement.
CUMMINGS: Now, the ARB., after conducting, Madam Secretary, more than 100 interviews, identifies a specific employee at the State Department who denied these requests. It was Deputy Assistant Secretary Of The Bureau Of Diplomatic Security Charlene Lamb. And again, she did come before the Oversight Committee.
The ARB report was very critical of her. It was also critical of her two supervisors. Principal deputy assistant secretary and the assistant secretary for Diplomatic Security. The Oversight Committee found the same answer as the ARB. It found that this official denied these requests. It found no evidence that you approved or denied them.
The problem is Republicans just keep asking the same question over and over again, and pretend they don’t know the answer. In 2013, the Republican chairman of five House committees issued a report falsely accusing you personally of denying these requests cable (ph) over your signature.
The next day, the next day, the chairman of the Oversight Committee Darrell Issa, went on national television and accused you of the same thing.
Can we play that clip, please?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA, R-CALIF.: Secretary of State was just wrong. She said she did not participate in this. And yet only a few months before the attack, she outright denied security in her signature in April 2014.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: Do you remember that, Madam Secretary?
CLINTON: I do.
CUMMINGS: Well, when the Washington Post fact checker examined this claim, they gave it four Pinocchios. They called it a whopper. It turns out, that the Republicans had a copy of that cable, but didn’t tell the American people that your so-called signature was just a stamp that appeared on millions of cables from the State Department every single year.
Is that right?
CLINTON: That’s correct.
CUMMINGS: Now, Madam Secretary, my goal has always been to gather facts and to defend the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Last year, I asked our staff to compile an asked and answered database.
And this particular issue was answered thoroughly. On Monday, we put out another report and this issue was addressed yet again. But the Republicans want to keep this attack going, so they are now trying to argue that we have new e-mails that raise new questions.
The truth is that we have reviewed these e-mails, and they don’t contradict previous conclusions. They confirm them. They corroborate them. We have reviewed e-mails from Ambassador Stevens. And they show that he asked Charleston Lamb for more security.
Nothing we have obtained, not the new interviews or the new e- mails changes the basic fact we have known for three years.
Secretary Clinton, let me ask one final question, and please take as much time as you want to answer this. There is no evidence to support the Republican claims that you personally rejected security requests. So, some have a argued that since you knew the danger was increasing in Libya, you should have been in there making detailed decisions about whether this would be 5, 7, or even 9 security officers at any given post.
Madam Secretary, I know you have answered it over again. You might just want to elaborate and just I’ll give you — I have a minute and seven seconds.
CLINTON: Well, thank you, Congressman. I think there has been some confusion, and I welcome the opportunity to try to clarify it to the best of my ability. With respect, as you rightly point out, the claims that were made about the cables, I think you have explained the fact, which is that it is the long-standing tradition of the State Department for cables from around the world to be sent to and sent from the State Department under the signature, over the signature of the secretary of State. It’s a — it’s a stamp. It’s just part of the tradition. There are millions of them, as you point out. They are sorted through and directed to the appropriate personnel. Very few of them ever come to my attention.
None of them with respect to security regarding Benghazi did. Then the other point, which I thank you for raising so that perhaps I can speak to this one as well. There is, of course, information that we were obtaining about the increasingly dangerous environment in Libya.
Across the country, but in particular in Eastern Libya. And we were aware of that. And we were certainly taking that into account. There was no actionable intelligence on September 11th, or even before that date, about any kind of planned attack on our compound in Benghazi. And there were a lot of debates, apparently, that went on within the security professionals about what to provide.
Because they did have to prioritize. The Accountability Review Board pointed that out. The State Department has historically, and certainly before this terrible accident, not had the amount of money we thought necessary to do what was required to protect everyone.
So, of course, there had to be priorities. And that was something that the security professionals dealt with. I think that both Admiral Mullen And Ambassador Pickering made it very clear that they thought that the high threat post should move to a higher level of scrutiny. And we had immediately moved to do that.
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
GOWDY: Thank the gentleman. The chair will now recognize the gentlelady from Indiana, Ms. Brooks.
BROOKS: Good morning, Secretary Clinton.
CLINTON: Good morning.
BROOKS: Thank you for being here today. In drawing on what you just said, that very few, but no requests for Benghazi came to your attention, I’d like to show you something. This pile represents the e-mails that you sent or received about Libya in 2011, from February through December of 2011.
This pile represents the e-mails you sent or received from early 2012 until the day of the attack. There are 795 e-mails in this pile. We’ve counted them.
There’s 67 e-mails in this pile in 2012. And I’m troubled by what I see here. And so, my questions relate to these piles. In this pile in 2011 I see daily updates, sometimes is hourly updates from your staff about Benghazi and Chris Stevens.
When I look at this pile in 2012, I only see a handful of e-mails to you from your senior staff about Benghazi. And I have several questions for you about this disparity, because we know from talking to your senior advisers, that they knew, and many of them are here today seated behind you, they knew to send you important information, issues that were of importance to you.
And I can only conclude by your own records that there was a lack of interest in Libya in 2012.
So, let’s first focus, though, on this pile and what was happening in Libya in 2011. We had an ambassador to Libya, Ambassador Cretz. But you have told us — and you told us in your opening, you hand-picked Chris Stevens to be your special representative in Benghazi, and you sent him there.
And by your own e-mails, most provided last February, a few provided just a few weeks ago, they show that in March of ’11 — so, we’re in March of ’11, you had Chris Stevens join you in Paris, where you were meeting with the leader of the Libyan revolution.
And after Paris, that is when, as you talked about Chris Stevens went into Benghazi I believe in April 5th of 2011 on that Greek cargo ship. How long was he expected to stay?
What were Chris Stevens’s orders from you about Libya and about Benghazi specifically?
CLINTON: Chris Stevens was asked to go to Benghazi to do reconnaissance, to try to figure out who were the leaders of the insurgency who were based in Benghazi, what their goals were, what they understood would happen if they were successful. It was, as I had, the hard-nosed 21st century diplomacy that is rooted in the old- fashioned necessary work of building relationships and gathering information.
BROOKS: How long was he anticipated to stay in Benghazi, do you recall?
CLINTON: There — it was open-ended. We were, in discussing it with him, unsure as to how productive it would be, whether it would be appropriate for him to stay for a long time or a short time. That was very much going to depend upon Chris’ own assessment.
We knew we were sending someone who understood the area, who understood the language, who understood a lot of the personalities because of the historical study that he used to love to do. And we were going to be guided by what he decided.
BROOKS: I’d like to draw your attention to an e-mail. It’s an e-mail found at Tab 1. It’s an Op Center e-mail that was forwarded to you from Huma Abedin on Sunday, March 27th that says at the bottom of the e-mail — so the current game plan is for Mr. Stevens to move no later than Wednesday from Malta to Benghazi. But the bottom of the e- mail says the goal of this one-day trip is for him to lay the groundwork for a stay of up to 30 days.
So just to refresh that recollection, I believe initially the goal was to go in for 30 days. Were you personally briefed on his security plan prior to him going into Libya?
BROOKS: Because at that time, if I’m not mistaken — I’m sorry to interrupt — Gadhafi’s forces were still battling the rebels, correct?
CLINTON: That’s right.
BROOK: And so what were — were you personally briefed before you sent Mr. Stevens into Benghazi?
CLINTON: I was personally told by the officials who were in the State Department who were immediately above Chris, who were making the plans for him to go in, that it was going to be expeditionary diplomacy. It was going to require him to make a lot of judgments on the ground about what he could accomplish and including where it would be safe for him to be and how long for him to stay. And I think the initial decision was, you know, up to 30 days and reassess. But it could have been 10 days, it could have been 60 days depending upon what he found and what he reported back to us.
BROOKS: And possibly what was determined about the danger of Benghazi. Who were those officials?
CLINTON: Well, there were a number of officials who were…
BROOKS: That were advising you on the security specifically?
CLINTON: Well, with respect to the security, this was a particular concern of the assistant secretary for the bureau in which Chris worked.
BROOKS: I’m sorry. What was that person’s name?
CLINTON: Assistant secretary Jeff Feldman.
BROOKS: Thank you.
CLINTON: And it was also a concern of the assistant secretary for diplomatic security, as well as other officials within the State Department. And I think it’s fair to say, Congresswoman, this was, we all knew, a risky undertaking and it was something that was, as I said in my opening statement, more reminiscent of the way diplomacy was practiced back in the 19th century.
Because we didn’t have is the Internet. We didn’t have instantaneous communication. You would send diplomats and envoys into places and not hear from them for maybe months. This was obviously not of that kind, but it was not that different in degree from what we had done before. And it was a risky undertaking and one which Chris volunteered for and was anxious to undertake.
BROOKS: And it was so risky — I’d like to pull up another e- mail from the Op Center that forwarded to you from Ms. Abedin Sunday, April 10th. So he had been there about five days. And it indicates that the situation in Ajdabiya had worsened to the point where Stevens is considering departing from Benghazi. This is within five days of him going in.
Were you aware of that concern in the first five days that he had gone in?
BROOKS: And did anyone share that with you and — did share that with you?
CLINTON: Yes. We were aware because we were — we were really counting on Chris to guide us and give us the information from the ground. We had no other sources. You know, there was no American outpost. There was no, you know, American military presence. Eventually, other Americans representing different agencies were able to get into Benghazi and begin to do the same work, but they, of course, couldn’t do that work overtly, which is why we wanted a diplomat who could be publicly meeting with people to try to get the best assessment.
But it was always going to be a constant risk, and we knew that.
BROOKS: And so let me go back to the risk in 2011 because there was a lot of communication, again, once again from your senior staff, from the State Department to you or from you in 2011. And in fact, that is when Gadhafi fell. He fell in 2011. But then when we go to 2012, Libya, Benghazi, Chris Stevens, the staff there, they seem to fall off your radar in 2012, and the situation is getting much worse in 2012. It was getting much worse.
And let me just share for you in your records that we have reviewed, there is not one e-mail to you or from you in 2012 when an explosive device went off at our compound in April. There’s not a single e-mail in your records about that explosive device.
So my question is, this was a very important mission in 2011, you sent Chris Stevens there. But yet when your compound is attacked in 2012, what kind of culture was created in the State Department that your folks couldn’t tell you in an e-mail about a bomb in April of 2012?
CLINTON: Well, Congresswoman, I did not conduct most of the business that I did on behalf of our country on e-mail. I conducted it in meetings. I read massive amounts of memos, a great deal of classified information. I made a lot of secure phone calls. I was in and out of the White House all the time. There were a lot of things that happened that I was aware of and that I was reacting to.
If you were to be in my office in the State Department, I didn’t have a computer, I did not do the vast is majority of the work on my e-mail. And I bet there are a lot of Sid Blumenthal’s e-mails in there from 2011 too.
BROOKS: Well, we’ll get to…
CLINTON: And so I think that there were — I don’t want you to have a mistaken impression about what I did and how I did it. Most of my work was not done on e-mails with my closest aides, with officials in the State Department, officials in the rest of the government, as well as the White House and people around the world.
BROOKS: And thank you for sharing that because I’m sure that it’s not all done on e-mails, Madam Secretary, and there are meetings and there are discussions. And so then when your compound took a second attack on June 6th, when a bomb blew a wall through the compound then, no e-mails, no e-mails at all. But I am interested in knowing who were you meeting with, who were you huddling with, how were you informed about those things? Because there is nothing in the e-mails that talks about two significant attacks on our compounds in 2012. There was a lot of information in 2011 about issues and security posture and yet nothing in 2012.
CLINTON: Well, I’d be happy to explain. Every morning when I arrived at the State Department, usually between 8:00 and 8:30, I had a personal one-on-one briefing from the representative of the Central Intelligence Agency who shared with me the highest level of classified information that I was to be aware of on a daily basis.
I then had a meeting with the top officials of the State Department every day that I was in town. That’s where a lot of information, including threats and attacks on our facilities, was shared. I also had a weekly meeting every Monday with all of the officials, the assistant secretaries and others, so that I could be brought up to date on any issue they were concerned about.
During the day, I received hundreds of pages of memos, many of them classified, some of them so top secret they were brought into my office in a locked briefcase that I had to read and immediately return to the courier. And I was constantly at the White House in the situation room meeting with the national security adviser and others. I would also be meeting with officials in the State Department, foreign officials and others.
So there was a lot going on during every day. I did not e-mail during the day and — except on rare occasions when I was able to. But I didn’t conduct the business that I did primarily on e-mail. That is not how I gathered information, assessed information, asked the hard questions of the people that I worked with.
BROOKS: It appears that leaving Benghazi — with respect to all of that danger, leaving Benghazi was not an option in 2012.
And I yield back.
CLINTON: If I could just quickly respond, there was never a recommendation from any intelligence official in our government, from any official in the State Department, or from any other person with knowledge of our presence in Benghazi to shut down Benghazi, even after the two attacks that the compound suffered.
And perhaps, you know, you would wonder why, but I can tell you that it was thought that the mission in Benghazi, in conjunction with the CIA mission, was vital to our national interests.
GOWDY: The gentlelady from Indiana yields back.
The chair will now briefly recognize Mr. Cummings and then Ms. Duckworth.
CUMMINGS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I just want to clarify, when I was asking Secretary Clinton a question a moment ago, I mentioned an e-mail that had gone from Ambassador Chris Stevens to Deputy Secretary Lamb. What I meant to say was a cable. And I just wanted to make sure the record was clear.
GOWDY: The record will reflect that.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Clinton, I’m pleased that you finally have the opportunity to be here. Before I start my line of questioning, I just want to clarify with regard to the April-June, 2012 incidents. I believe that the procedure that the State Department had for these types of incidents was to actually hold what are called emergency action committee hearings on the ground immediately. And in fact, there were at least five on the records for June alone, on the ground in both Tripoli and Benghazi.
And that is the correct procedure for handling such instances. Is that not correct?
CLINTON: That’s correct.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you.
Secretary Clinton, my focus and my job on this committee is to make sure that we never put brave Americans like Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty ever on the ground again anywhere in the world without the protection that they so rightly deserve.
Having flown combat missions myself in some dangerous places, I understand the dedication of our men and women who choose to serve this country overseas. I have a special affinity for the diplomatic corps because these are folks who go in without the benefit of weapons, without the benefit of military might, armed only with America’s values and diplomatic words and a handshake, to forward our nation’s interests globally.
And so I am absolutely determined to make sure that we safeguard in the name of our heroic dead our men and women in the diplomatic corps wherever where they around the world.
So, the bottom line for me, I’m a very mission-driven person, the bottom line for me with respect to examining what went wrong in Benghazi is clear. Let’s learn from those mistakes and let’s figure out what we need to do to fix them.
I’ve only been in Congress not quite three years, almost three years. And in this time, I’ve actually served on two other committees in addition to this one that has looked at the Benghazi attacks, both Armed Services and Oversight and Government Reform. So I’ve had a chance to really look at all of these documents.
One of the things that I saw, and I’d like you to — discuss this with you, is that the Department of State and the Department of Defense at the time seems to have not had the most ideal cooperation when it came to threat or security analysis. I do know, however, that over the past decade, they’ve established a tradition of working together on the ground in dangerous regions that has increased over time.
However, as a member of the Armed Services Committee, which also looked at the Benghazi attack, I’m concerned that the interagency cooperation between State and DOD was not sufficient in the weeks and months leading up to the September 11, 2012 attacks. For example, joint contingency planning and training exercises, if we had conducted any joint interagency planning and training exercises, this may have actually helped State and DOD to identify and fix existing vulnerabilities in the temporary mission facility in Benghazi.
Moreover, regular communications between AFRICOM, which is the DOD command, and the special mission Benghazi, could have facilitated the pre-positioning of military assets in a region where there were very real questions over the host country’s ability to protect our diplomatic personnel.
Secretary Clinton, within the weeks of the terrorist attack in Benghazi happening, following that, I understand you partnered with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to establish and deploy five interagency security assessment teams to assess our security posture and needs at at least the 19 high-threat posts in 13 different countries. In fact, Deputy Secretary Nize (ph) testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in December of 2012 that the State Department and DOD ISAT initiative created a road map for addressing emerging security challenges.
Why did you partner with the Department of Defense to conduct such a high-priority review? And was it effective in addressing the shortfalls inn Benghazi and applying it for other locations?
CLINTON: Congressman — Congresswoman, thank you very much, and thanks for your service, and particularly your knowledge about these issues rising from your own military service and the service on the committees here in the House.
It’s very challenging to get military assets into countries that don’t want them there. And in fact, that has been a constant issue that we have worked, between the State Department and the Department of Defense. The Libyans made it very clear from the very beginning they did not want any American military or any foreign military at all in their country.
And what I concluded is that we needed to have these assessments because even if we couldn’t post our own military in the country, we needed to have a faster reaction. I certainly agree 100 percent with the findings of the Armed Services Committee here in the House and other investigations. Our military did everything they could. They turned over every rock. They tried to deploy as best they could to try to get to Benghazi. It was beyond the geographic range. They didn’t have assets nearby because we don’t have a lot of installations and military personnel that are in that immediate region.
So following what happened in Benghazi, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey and I, agreed to send out mixed teams of our diplomatic security and their top security experts from the Defense Department to get a better idea of the 19 high-threat posts. And that’s exactly what we did. And it gave us some guidance to try to have better planning ahead of time.
I know Admiral Mullen testified that it would be beyond the scope of our military to be able to provide immediate reaction to 270 posts. But that’s why we tried to narrow down. And of course, we do get help from our military in war zones. The military has been incredibly supportive of our embassy in Kabul and our embassy in Baghdad. But we have a lot of hot spots now and very dangerous places that are not in military conflict areas where we have American military presence.
So we wanted to figure out how we could get more quickly a fast reaction team to try to help prevent what happened in Benghazi.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you.
So this ISAT process that the joint teams at DOD and State that goes out, and initially looked at the 19 posts, that’s great that they come back with a report. It’s kind of like, you know, the seven reports do this, and now we have another committee. We can keep having committees to look into Benghazi, but we never act on them. It doesn’t help our men and women on the ground. And that’s what I’m focused on.
So what I want to know is, with these ISATs, so they came back with their recommendations to you. Have they been resourced? Are they institutionalized? Is — what has been done with this process so that it’s not a snapshot in time in reaction to Benghazi attack? And I want to make sure that, you know, at the very least, we’re continuing that cooperation, or at least there’s some sort of institutionalization of the review process to make sure that if it’s not those 19 posts, if the shift now is there’s 20 posts or some other posts. What has been done to make sure it’s institutionalized?
CLINTON: Well, that was one of the changes that I instituted before I left. And I’m confident that Secretary Kerry and his counterpart, Secretary Carter, at the Defense Department are continuing that. Because I think it was very useful. Certainly, it was useful for our security professionals and our diplomats to be partnered in that way with the Defense Department.
You know, historically, the only presence at some of our facilities has been Marines. And as you know well, Marines were there not for the purpose of personnel protection. They were there to destroy classified material and equipment. And so part of the challenge that we have faced inn some of these hot-spot, dangerous areas is how we get more of a presence. And after Benghazi, we were able to get Marines deployed to Tripoli.
So this is a constant effort between the State Department and the Defense Department, but it’s my strong belief that the ISAT process has been and should be institutionalized and we should keep learning from it.
DUCKWORTH: I’d like to touch on the quadrennial reviews. Again, coming from Armed Services, even as a young platoon leader out in, you know, in a platoon, we got and read the defense quadrennial review, which is a review that happens on a periodic basis, that gives the individual soldier an idea of what the Defense Department is trying to do. And I understand you initiated something similar in the State Department.
DUCKWORTH: And this goes to — there’s been discussion already about the culture at the State Department, especially when it comes to security. I found that the Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review is really good at instilling culture throughout the department.
Can you talk a little bit how and why you decided to do the review for the State Department? Was it useful? Is it useful? Is it getting out there? Is it a waste of time, and we shouldn’t be wasting money on it and we should be doing something else?
CLINTON: Well, I hope it’s not the latter. I learned about the Quadrennial Defense Review serving on Armed Services Committee in the Senate during my time there.
I agree with you completely, Congresswoman. It is a very successful road map as to where we should be going. And I’m impressed as a platoon leader, it was something you too into account. So, when I came to the State Department, there had never been anything like this done, there was no road map.
And the State Department, USAID would come up and fight for the money they could get out of Congress, no matter who was in charge of the Congress, every single year. It is one percent of the entire budget. And it was very difficult to explain effectively what it is we were trying to achieve.
So it did institute the first ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Diplomacy And Development Review. And one of the key questions that we were addressing is, what is this balance between risk and reward when it comes to our diplomats and our development professionals?
Because the first thing I heard when I got to the State Department was a litany of complaints from a lot of our most experienced diplomats that they were being ham-strung. That the security requirements were so intense, that they were basically unable to do their jobs. And of course, then, from the security professionals, who were all part of this, what we call the QDDR, they were saying, we don’t want you to go beyond the fence.
We can’t protect you in all of these dangerous circumstances. How you balance that — and it is a constant balancing of risk and reward, in terms of what we hope our diplomats and development professionals can do. So, it has been twice now. Secretary Kerry, in his tenure, has done the second QDDR. And I hope it becomes as important and as much of a road map as the QDR has for our Defense Department and our military services.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you. I’m out of time, Mr. Chairman.
GOWDY: Thank you the gentle lady from Illinois. The chair will now recognize the gentlelady from Alabama, Ms. Roby.
ROBY: Good morning.
CLINTON: Good morning.
ROBY: Secretary Clinton, some I colleagues have focused on your relationship with the Ambassador Chris Stevens, and why you sent him into Benghazi in 2011 as part of your broader Libya initiative.
But it’s not so clear from everything that we’ve reviewed that you had a vision in Benghazi going forward into 2012 and beyond. It appears that there was confusion and uncertainly within your own department about Libya. And quite frankly, Secretary Clinton, it appears that you were a large cause of that uncertainty.
And we have seen all the day-to-day updates and concern early in 2011. And I heard what you said to my colleague, Ms. Brooks. And I’ll get to that in a minute.
But showing that Libya, and for that matter Benghazi, belonged to you in 2011. It was yours, so to speak. And from your own records that we have, we saw a drop in your interest in Libya and Benghazi in 2012.
Not only do the records show your drop in interest in Benghazi, it was even noticed by your own staff. I want to point this out to you — I say this, because I want to point you to an e-mail in early February 2012, between two staffers at your Libya desk that says, you didn’t know whether we still even had a presence in Benghazi.
Let’s not use my words. Let’s use theirs. This can be found at tab 31. The e-mail says — and it is dated February 9, 2012. One writes to the other about an encounter that she had with you.
Quote, “Also, the secretary also asked last week if we still have a presence in Benghazi. I think she would be upset to hear, yes, we do. But because we don’t have enough security, they are on lockdown,” end quote.
And I say this is very troubling to me because it raises several issues that I would like to ask you about. I’m struck by the first part, quote, “The secretary asked last week if we still have a presence in Benghazi.” Now, you pointed out to Mrs. Brooks in her last line of questioning, based on the e-mail stacks here, that you engaged in a lot of conversations and briefings. So, I’m assuming that this conversation with this member of your staff took place in one of those briefings.
But then she sent this e-mail asking about this. So, how can this be that two of your staffers are e-mailing about whether or not you even knew if we had a presence in Benghazi in 2012, with all your interest in Libya in 2011, including your trip in October of 2011? And that months later, we come to find out you didn’t even know we had a presence there?
CLINTON: Well, I can’t comment on what has been reported. Of course, I knew we had a presence in Benghazi. I knew that we were evaluating what that presence should be, how long it should continue. And I knew exactly what we were doing in Libya.
And I think it’s important. Since you have very legitimate questions about what we were doing. You know, the United States played a role in the first election that the Libyan people had in 51 years. It was a successful election by every count. And they voted for moderates. They voted for the kind of people they wanted to govern them.
We had a very successful effort that the United States supported, getting rid of Gadhafi’s remaining chemical weapons, which we led and supported the United Nations and others in being able to do.
We were combating the proliferation of weapons. That’s one of the reasons why there was a CIA presence in Benghazi, because we were trying to figure out how to get those weapons out of the wrong hands, and get them collected in a way and destroyed. And in fact, we began reducing those heavy weapon stocks.
We were working on providing transition assistance to the Libyans. I met with the Libyans. I telephoned with the Libyans. I saw the Libyans all during this period. And it was hard. Because a lot of them knew what they wanted, but they didn’t know how to get from where they were to that goal.
And we did an enormous amount of work. My two deputies, Tom Nides and Bill Burns, went to Libya. Other officials in the State Department went to Libya. So there was a constant, continuing effort that I led to try to see what we could do to help.
Now, one of the problems we faced is that the Libyans did not really feel that welcome a peace-keeping mission. They couldn’t welcome foreign troops to their soil. That made it really difficult. And it didn’t have to be American troops, it could have been troops from anywhere in the world under a U.N. Mandate that might have helped them begin to secure their country.
ROBY: Secretary Clinton, if I may, I hear what you’re saying, but this e-mail says something very, very different.
CLINTON: Well, I — you know, I can’t speak to that. I can just tell you what I was doing, and I was doing a lot.
ROBY: Sure. But these — this was your staff. And I…
ROBY: If they had this conversation with you, why would they make it up?
But I want to move on. This e-mail, you know, makes me wonder about the vision for Benghazi, because they’re asking if you — they’re saying that you asked if we still had a presence. But if you — you know, we look at the second part of the e-mail, quote, “And I think she would be upset to say, yes, we do,” I…
CLINTON: Congresswoman, I’m sorry. I have no recollection of, or no knowledge of — of course…
ROBY: Well, please turn to tab 31, because it’s right there.
CLINTON: Well, I trust that you have read it. But I also tell you that we had a presence in Benghazi. We had members of the administration and Congress visiting Benghazi.
So, of course, I knew we had a presence in Benghazi. I can’t speak to what someone either heard or misheard. But I think what’s important, and I understand that the underlying point of your request question is, what were we doing about Libya? And after Gadhafi fell.
ROBY: Right. And I’ve heard that first part.
CLINTON: And that’s what I’m trying to explain to you about what we were doing.
ROBY: Yes, ma’am. I want to get to the second part of the e- mail that suggests that we were in lockdown, that you would have been upset to know yes — heard the first part of your answer — but that we were in lockdown. And you’ve said on numerous occasions, including in your opening statement, on point number one, you know, America must lead and we must represent in dangerous places, quote, “They can’t do their jobs for us in bunkers.”
And essentially what we know is that there weren’t the required number of security on the ground in order for the individual to even move about the country to provide you with what you have reiterated on numerous occasions as being very important at that time, which is political reporting.
CLINTON: Well, could — could you tell me who is — who are the names on this e-mail that you’re talking about?
ROBY: Sure. I can. Turn to tab 31. You have a book in front of you. It is Alice Abdallah and I’m going to pronounce it wrong, Enya Sodarais (ph)? Is that correct?
CLINTON: They were not on my staff. I’m not in any way contradicting what they think they heard or what they heard somebody say. But the people that I know…
ROBY: Can you tell me who they were if they were not on your staff?
CLINTON: They were not on my — they were in the State Department, along with thousands of other people. They were not part of the secretary staff. But I get what you’re saying, Congresswoman. And I want to focus on this. I think it’s a fair and important question.
The facility in Benghazi was a temporary facility. There had been no decision made as to whether or not it would be permanent. It was not even a consulate. Our embassy was in Tripoli. Obviously much of the work that we were doing was going through the embassy.
There was a very vigorous discussion on the part of people who were responsible for making a recommendation about Benghazi as to what form of consulate, what form of facility it should be. Chris Stevens believed that it should be a formal consulate.
But that was something that had to be worked out. And there had not yet been a decision at the time that the attack took place. So it was not a permanent facility. And, you know, there were a number of questions that people were asking about whether it could or should be.
ROBY: I want to drill down on the security issue. But I also want to say it’s frustrating for us here on this panel asking these questions to hear you in your opening statement talk about the responsibility you took for all 70 plus thousand employees, yet I read you an e-mail between two of those employees and it seems as though you’re just kind of brushing it off as not having any knowledge.
CLINTON: I’m just saying I have no recollection of it and it doesn’t correspond with the facts of what we were doing on a regular basis. ROBY: Well if we talk for just a minute about the security, I have a few seconds left. In 2011, during the revolution, then envoy Stevens had 10 agents with him on the ground in Benghazi. And then we know in 2012 where the security situation had deteriorated even further, there were only three agents assigned to Benghazi.
Again, can’t even move anybody off of the facility to do the necessary political reporting. And my question is, you know, why did you not acknowledge, because of your interest in 2011, the importance of having those security officers there to do what was so important to you, which was the political reporting? Then in 2011, 2010, and when an am bass doctor was there, three, and he brought two of his own the night of the attack, which would meet the requisite five, but there was really only three there at any given time. So if you could address that, again, I’m running a little short on time.
CLINTON: Well, he did have five with him on September 11th and…
ROBY: Well, he brought two, right? He brought two with him, there were three there, and there were…
CLINTON: Right. But the point was they were personal security. So they were there to secure him. So yes, he did bring two. When he got there, he had five.
ROBY: Can you address the discrepancy?
CLINTON: The day before September 10th he went in to Benghazi. He went to a luncheon with leading civic leaders, business leaders in Benghazi. So he felt very comfortable. It was his decision. Ambassadors do not have to seek permission from the State Department to travel around the country that they are assigned to.
He decided to go to Benghazi by taking two security officers with him and having three there, he had the requisite five that had been the subject of discussion between the embassy and the State Department security professionals.
I’m not going to in any way suggest that he or the embassy got everything they requested. We know that they didn’t from the Accountability Review Board, by investigations that were done by the Congress. We know that there were a lot of discussions about what was needed, particularly in Benghazi. And that the day that he died he had five security officers.
A lot of security professionals who have reviewed this matter, even those who are critical, that the State Department did not do enough, have said that the kind of attack that took place would have been very difficult to repel. That’s what we have to learn from, Congresswoman.
There are many lessons going back to Beirut, going back to Tehran and the take over of our embassy and going all the way through these years. And sometimes we learn lessons and we actually act and we do the best we can. And there’s a perfect, terrible example of that with respect to what happened in Benghazi.
Certainly. And my time has expired. We will certainly never know what the outcome would have been if there had been more agents that night. I yield back.
CLINTON: Well, that’s not what the professionals, that’s not what the experts in security have concluded, if you have read the Accountability Review Board…
ROBY: I have read it Secretary Clinton. And it says that security was grossly in adequate.
CLINTON: Well, it said that there were deficiencies within two bureaus in the State Department which we have moved to correct and it also pointed out that the diplomatic security officers that were there acted heroically. There was not one single question about what they did. And they were overrun. And it was unfortunate that the agreement we had with the CIA annex and when those brave men showed up that it was also not enough.
ROBY: Certainly. We’ll discuss this more. I have to yield back.
GOWDY: The gentle lady’s time has expired. The chair will now recognizes the gentleman from Washington.
SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you Madam Secretary for being here. Just to clarify, you knew we had a presence.
CLINTON: Of course I knew, I knew, Congressman, of course.
SMITH: Going back to your earlier question, you were also aware of those two attacks on your compounds even though you didn’t e-mail about it.
CLINTON: Yes, I was aware.
SMITH: And that I think sort of points out, I mean, after 17 months and $4.7 million, as the ranking member pointed out in his opening statements, and as we’ve seen today, you know, this committee is simply not doing its job. And I don’t really think it should have been formed in the first place.
But what we have heard here is well, first of all, an obsession with e-mail. The idea that two fairly junior level staffers might not have gotten something wrong in what they heard or the information in an e-mail might, in fact, not be accurate, are certainly not things that should be news to anybody. But it is the obsession with the e- mails that takes us off what should have been the task of this committee.
I also find it interesting that Mr. Obi’s (ph) final comments were to quote the ARB report. Yes, the ARB report I think was very good. I think we absolutely had to have it. I think it was appropriate for the committees and Congress to do the investigations they did. But all of that begs the question as to why we’ve spent the $4.7 million we have spent on this.
And even in the chairman’s opening remarks, it was primarily a defense of the committee’s existence. Not any new information. Not here’s what we, in those 17 months and $4.7 million have figured out that is new and different. Nothing. In fact, we have heard nothing. Even in today’s hearing. Not a single solitary thing that hasn’t already been discussed repeatedly. So we have learned absolutely nothing.
Yes, we have uncovered a trove of new information. In this age, I don’t think there’s ever an end to e-mails. We could probably go on for another two years and we’d find more. The question is what we found anything substantively that tells us something different about what happened in Benghazi? And the answer to that question is no.
Look, I didn’t think this committee should have been formed in the first place. But if it was going to be formed, the least we could do is to actually focus on the four brave Americans who were killed, why they were killed, and focus on Benghazi. And we have not. Mr. Roskam’s questions I found to be the most interesting. Basically — I don’t know, it was like he was running for president.
He wanted to debate you on overall Libya policy as to why we got in the first place. And that’s debatable. And I think you will argue that quite well. But that’s not about the attack on Benghazi. That’s not about what we could have done in Benghazi to better protect them.
So again, I think we have seen hat this committee is focused on you. And I’m the ranking member of the Armed Services committee. I don’t see the Department of Defense here. I don’t see the CIA here. There were many, many other agencies involved in this. And yet yours has been the one they have obsessively focused on. And I think that’s a shame for a whole lot of reasons.
SMITH: For one thing, this committee, as it has been in the news the last several weeks, has been yet one more step in denigrating this institution. And I happen to think this institution needs more support, not less. So I wish we would stop doing that.
And I — you know, you mentioned Beirut, and that was the first though that occurred to me when this happened, was a Democratic Congress at the time did a fair and quick investigation of what was an unspeakable tragedy — two separate suicide bombings four months apart. And there was clearly inadequate security. But the focus there was not on partisanship, not on embarrassing the Reagan administration, but in actually figuring out what happened and how we can better protect Americans.
Now, I wonder if I could just ask questions about what I think is the central issue, and that is how do we have that presence in the world that you described in what is an increasingly dangerous world? Because as I’ve traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Yemen and other places, I’m consistently amazed by the willingness of our diplomatic corps to put their lives at risk. And I wonder how do you balance that very difficult decision. Because frankly, what I’ve heard more often from that diplomatic corps is that they chafe at the restrictions.
I mean, I remember vividly being in Peshawar, which is, you know — I mean, I didn’t like the ride from the airport to the embassy, which was 10 minutes, and we were there for, I don’t know, a few hours and then out. You know, the State Department personnel, they live there and went out amongst the community. How do you try and strike that balance of, you know, being present and at the same time meeting the security obligations?
And then most importantly, who drives that decision? Because it seems to me in most instances it is driven by the diplomatic corps there. If they take risks, it’s because they’ve decided to do it. They’re there. They know the security situation certainly better than the secretary and better than most everybody else. What is the proper way to strike that balance going forward to protect our personnel and still fulfill their mission?
CLINTON: Congressman, I think that is the most important question, and I would certainly welcome Congressional discussion and debate about this because it’s what we tried to do — going back to Congresswoman Duckworth’s question, what we tried to begin to do in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, the first one that was ever done, because that’s exactly what we were facing. You know, we have had diplomats and development professionals in war zones now for a number of years. We’ve had them in places that are incredibly unstable and dangerous because of ongoing conflicts. It is, I think, the bias of the diplomacy corps that they be there because that’s what they signed up for. And they know that if America is not represented, then we leave a vacuum and we lose our eyes and our ears about what people are thinking and doing.
It is certainly the hardest part of the job in many of our agencies and departments today. And it was for me in the State Department. That’s why I relied on the security professionals because by the time I got there in 2009, the diplomatic security professionals had been taking care of American diplomats in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan for years. And they had learned a lot of the lessons and they were forced to make tough decisions all the time.
You mentioned Peshawar, one of clearly the high threat posts that the United States maintains a presence in. But when you think that since 2001 we’ve had 100 of our facilities attacked, if we were to shut them all down, if we were to pull out from all of them, we would be blinding ourselves. So it’s a constant balancing act. What are the risks and what are the rewards for opening, maintaining and/or closing a site.
I don’t know that there’s any hard and fast rule that we can adopt. We just have to get better at making that assessment, Congressman, and your question really goes to the heart of it. When you were as a member of Congress in Peshawar, you were guarded by our diplomatic security professionals. They had to assess was it safe enough for a member of Congress to come, how do we get him from the airport to the embassy.
It won’t surprise you to hear we’ve had attacks there as so many other places around the world. And that is a heavy responsibility, and the diplomatic security professionals get it right 999 times out of a thousand. And it’s deeply distressing to them when anything goes wrong.
We have lost non-Americans with some of these attacks on facilities. We’ve lost our locally-employed staff. They never want to see any successful attack, so they have to be — they have to be right 100 percent of the time, the terrorists only have to be right once. And, you know, that’s why this is really at the core of what I tried to do before even I got the Accountability Review Board, going back to the QDDR, to come up with a better way of trying to make those assessments.
SMITH: Madam Secretary, if I may, just two final points. I mean, so the bottom line is Benghazi on 9/11/2012 was not the only dangerous place in the world where our security personnel were and where these difficult decisions had to be made.
SMITH: And the other point I want to make before my time expires, now this was in 2012, so we were only a couple of years into this, but Secretary of Defense Ash Carter just I think yesterday wrote an editorial in the Wall Street journal about the impact of five years of budget uncertainty on the DOD’s ability to function. I mean, for five years, we have gone through C.R.s, threatened government shutdowns, one actual government shutdown, and constant budget uncertainty.
Now, my area is the Department of Defense. I know how it’s impacted them. They basically from one week to the next barely know what they can spend money on. Now, one of the criticisms is that there should have been more security, but if you don’t have a budget, if you don’t have an appropriations bill, how does that complicate your job as secretary in trying to figure out what money you can spend?
CLINTON: Well, it makes it very difficult, Congressman. And this is a subject that we talked about all the time, how do you plan. How do you know — you know, you have so many diplomatic security officers in so many dangerous places, how do you know what you’re going to have to be able to deploy and where are you going to have to make the choices.
That’s why the prioritization, which shouldn’t have to be, in my view, the responsibility of the officials in the State Department or the Defense Department to try to guess what makes the most sense. We should have a much more orderly process for our budget.
And I will say again, as secretary of State, the kind of dysfunction and failure to make decisions that we have been living with in our government hurts us. It hurts us in the obvious ways, like where you’re going to deploy forces if you’re in DOD or where we’re going to send security if you’re in the Department of State.
But it hurts us as the great country that we are, being viewed from an abroad as unable to handle our own business. And so it has a lot of consequences. And it’s something that I wish that we could get over and have our arguments about policy, have our arguments about substance, but get back to regular order, where we have the greatest nation in the world with a budget that then they can plan against as opposed to the uncertainty that has stalked us now for so long.
SMITH: Thank you, Madam Secretary. So the bottom line is Congress needs to do its job.
CLINTON: Right. I agree with that.
GOWDY: The gentlemen yields back. And I’ll be happy to get a copy of my opening statement for the gentleman from Washington so he can refresh his recollection on all the things our committee found that your previous committee missed. And with that I’ll go to the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Westmoreland.
WESTMORELAND: Thank you. Madam Secretary, I talk a little slower than everybody else, so…
CLINTON: I lived in Arkansas a long time. I don’t need an interpreter, Congressman. WESTMORELAND: So some of the questions I’m asking you can just get a yes-or-no answer, that would be great. But I do want you to give us a full answer.
But Mr. Smith from Washington mentioned there was no new facts brought out in some of these interviews, and I want to just say that I think he was at one interview for one hour. I have been at a bunch of those and there has been a lot of new facts that’s come out.
One of the things he said, it doesn’t — that you knew about these two incidents that have been mentioned previously. It’s not a matter if you knew about them, it’s a matter of what you did about them. And to us, the answer to that is nothing. Now, you say you were briefed by the CIA every morning that you were in Washington; is that correct?
CLINTON: That’s correct.
WESTMORELAND: Did they ever mention to you Assistant Acting Director Morrell wrote in his book that there were scores of intelligence pieces describing in detail how the situation in Libya was becoming more and more dangerous. Did you ever read any of these pieces?
CLINTON: Yes. As I’ve previously stated, we were certainly aware that the situation across Libya was becoming more dangerous, and that there were particular concerns about eastern Libya.
WESTMORELAND: Did you read the piece that was Libya, Al Qaida establishing sanctuary?
CLINTON: I’m aware that was certainly among the information provided to me.
WESTMORELAND: There was another particular piece that was talked about after the IED attack that AFRICOM wrote. Al Qaida expands in Libya. Were you familiar with that?
CLINTON: I can’t speak to specific pieces, Congressman, but I was well aware of the concerns we all had about the setting up of jihadist training camps and other activities in Libya, particularly in eastern Libya.
WESTMORELAND: You — you were briefed, in I think the CIA, between January and September of 2012, at over 4500 pages of intelligence. Were you aware of how many pages of intelligence? And I know you had a specific division, I guess, of the State Department under you that was called Intelligence and Research.
WESTMORELAND: Did they keep you up to speed on all these 400 cables or different things that they were getting? Did they keep you up to speed on that, that you were aware of them?
CLINTON: Congressman, I can’t speak to specific reports. But I can certainly agree with you that I was briefed and aware of the increasingly dangerous upsurge in militant activity in Libya.
WESTMORELAND: And so what did you do to make sure that our men and women over there were protected, knowing how much the threat had grown, especially in Benghazi, because a lot of people say that really, in the summer of 2012, the security in Benghazi was worse than it was during the revolution.
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, with respect to not only the specific incidents that you referenced earlier, but the overall concerns about Benghazi, I think I stated previously, there was never any recommendation by anyone, the intelligence community, the Defense Department, the State Department officials responsible for Libya, to leave Benghazi.
Even after the two incidents that you mentioned. Because, in part, as I responded to Congressman Smith, we had so many attacks on facilities that, as I said, went back to 2001, that certainly also happened in other parts of the world while I was there. Each was evaluated, and there was not a recommendation. Furthermore, there was not even, on the morning of September 11, while Chris Stevens and Sean Smith were at the compound, Chris had spoken with intelligence experts. There was no credible, actionable threat known to our intelligence community…
WESTMORELAND: Yes, ma’am.
CLINTON: … against our compound.
WESTMORELAND: Reclaiming my time, you said that the — Ambassador Chris was pulled out of Tripoli because of threats on his life.
CLINTON: There were threats from people associated with Gadhafi after the publication…
CLINTON: … of cables he had written that were made public by WikiLeaks.
WESTMORELAND: You — and you say you were aware of the two attacks at the mission facility in Benghazi.
WESTMORELAND: Mr. Morell in his book states that there was 20 attacks on that facility. Are you familiar with the other 18?
CLINTON: There were two that we thought rose to the level of being serious, and I…
WESTMORELAND: Were — but were you familiar with the other 18?
CLINTON: … I’m not aware of 18 others. And I would point out, and I am sure that former Deputy Director Morell made this point when he was testifying, the CIA stayed in Libya.
The CIA had a much bigger presence than the State Department, despite the overall decline in stability. Some might argue actually because of the overall decline in stability, it was thought to be even more important for the CIA to stay there. And they also did not believe that their facility would be the subject of a deadly attack either, because I think sometimes…
WESTMORELAND: Ma’am (inaudible).
CLINTON: … you know, sometimes the — the discussion gets pulled together, when really we had Chris and Sean dying at the State Department compound, which we are discussing, and we had our other two deaths of Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty at the CIA annex.
WESTMORELAND: Reclaiming my time for just a minute. And I — and I do appreciate that. But if you — if you talk to the CIA contractors that were at the annex, and you ask them how they were armed and equipped, and then if you would — or could — talk to the diplomatic security agents that were at the facility, I think you will see that there was a big, big difference in the equipment that they had to protect theirself (ph).
But you knew of the two — what you called major incidents, but you don’t recollect the other 18 that Mr. Morell says happened. How many instances would it have taken you to say, “hey, we need to look at the security over there?”
Would it have been three major instances, 30 instances, 40 instances, 50 instances? How many instances would you have been made aware of that would have made you say, “hey, I don’t care what anybody else says, we’re going to protect our people. Chris Stevens is a good friend of mine, we’re going to look after him.”
How many would it have taken?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, of course I made it abundantly clear that we had to do everything we could to protect our people. What I did not — and do not believe any secretary should — do was to substitute my judgment from thousands of miles away for the judgment of the security professionals who made the decisions about what kind of security would be provided.
CLINTON: And that — I know that — that sounds somewhat hard to understand. But, you know, we have a process, and the experts, who I have the greatest confidence in, and who had been through so many difficult positions, because practically all of them had rotated through Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, other places — they were the ones making the assessment. No one ever came to me and said, “we should shut down our compound in Benghazi.”
WESTMORELAND: Ma’am, I’m not saying shut it down. I’m saying protect it.
WESTMORELAND: I’m not saying — I’m not saying shut it down. I’m just saying protect it.
WESTMORELAND: When you say security professionals — I’m not trying to be disparaging with anybody, but I — I don’t know who those folks were, but…
CLINTON: Well, they were people who risked their lives to try to save…
WESTMORELAND: … just my little — in my little opinion, they weren’t very professional when it came to protecting people.
But let me say this. You said that the mission that you gave Ambassador Stevens was to go in to — in to investigate the situation. Now, if you’re going to investigate a situation, it would seem to me like you would have to get out into the country to investigate that.
And I don’t know if you’re aware of it or not, but there were not even enough diplomatic security for him to leave the compound without asking the CIA operatives to assist them. Were you aware of that?
CLINTON: Well, we had an agreement with the CIA to help supplement security and to come to the aid — it was a — it was a mutual agreement.
WESTMORELAND: Was that a — was that a written agreement?
CLINTON: No, it was — it was not a written agreement. But we — we are posted with the CIA in many places in the country…
CLINTON: … I mean, in the — in the world. And it’s important to have a good working relationship. And we did. And unfortunately, despite all the weapons and despite the fortification, two CIA contractors died at the CIA annex that night.
WESTMORELAND: Just to follow up on one thing about Ambassador Stevens. You got a lot of e-mails from Sidney Blumenthal. And you say that Mr. Blumenthal was a friend of yours. And he had your personal e-mail address.
You say Chris Stevens was a friend of yours. He asked numerous of times for extra protection. Now, if I had been Mr. Stevens — and I think anybody out there — anybody watching this would agree.
If I had been Mr. Stevens and I had had a relationship with you, and I had requested 20 or more times for additional security to protect not only my life but the people that were there with me, I would have gotten in touch with you some way.
I would have let you know that I was in danger, and that the situation had deteriorated to a point, I needed you to do something. Did he have your personal e-mail?
CLINTON: Congressman, I — I do not believe that he had my personal e-mail. He had the e-mail and he had the direct line to everybody that he’d worked with for years. He had been posted…
WESTMORELAND: But not your…
CLINTON: … with officials in the State Department. They had gone through difficult, challenging, dangerous assignments together. He was in constant contact with people.
Yes, he and the people working for him asked for more security. Some of those requests were approved. Others were not.
We’re obviously looking to learn what more we could do, because it was not only about Benghazi, it was also about the embassy in Tripoli. I think it’s fair to say that, you know, Chris asked for what he and his people requested, because he thought that it would be helpful. But he never said to anybody in the State Department you know what, we just can’t keep doing this, we just can’t — we can’t stay there. He was in constant contact with, you know, people on my staff, other officials in the State Department.
And, you know, I did have an opportunity to talk with him about the substance of the policy. But with respect to security, he took those requests where they belonged. He took them to the security professionals.
And I have to add, Congressman, the diplomatic security professionals are among the best in the world. I would put them up against anybody. And I just cannot allow any comment to be in the record in any way criticizing or disparaging them. They have kept Americans safe in two wars and in a lot of other really terrible situations over the last many years.
I trusted them with my life. You trust them with yours when you’re on CODELs. They deserve better. And they deserve all the support that the Congress can give them, because they’re doing a really hard job very well.
WESTMORELAND: Well, ma’am, all I can say is they missed something here. And we lost four Americans.
GOWDY: The gentleman’s time has expired. The chair will recognize the gentleman from Kansas, Mr. Pompeo.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, you’ve referred to the QDDR a couple of times as being important to diplomatic security. Is that correct?
CLINTON: It provoked a discussion, Congressman, about balancing of risk. POMPEO: Madam Secretary, I had a chance to read that. I wanted to only read the executive summary that ran 25 pages. But it didn’t have a word about diplomatic security in those entire 25 pages of the executive summary. Not one word, Madam Secretary. And then I read the remaining pages from out of the 270-plus. Do you know how many pages of those 270 had to do with diplomatic security?
CLINTON: It was about the balancing of risk and reward.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary…
CLINTON: Which was not only about diplomatic security specifically about, but about the larger question of our mission around the world.
POMPEO: Madam secretary, there was no balance. There was no balance. There was two pages out of 270 pages. You talked about a lot of things in there. You talked about a lot of improvements.
It didn’t have anything to do with diplomatic security in any material way in that report. You talked about being disappointed, too, I’ve heard you use that several times. You were disappointed, you read the ARB.
Why didn’t you fire someone? In Kansas, Madam Secretary, I get asked constantly, why has no one been held accountable? How come not a single person lost a single paycheck, connected to the fact that we had the first ambassador killed since 1979?
How come no one has been held accountable to date?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, the Accountability Review Board pointed out several people working in the State Department, who they thought had not carried out their responsibilities adequately. But they said that they could not find a breach of duty. And…
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am.
CLINTON: The personnel rules and the laws that govern those decisions were followed very carefully.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. I’m not asking what the ARB did. I’m asking what you did.
CLINTON: I followed the law, Congressman. That was my responsibility.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, you’re telling me you had no authority to take anyone’s paycheck, to cause anyone to be fired? You’re telling me you were legally prohibited from doing that, is that your position here this morning?
CLINTON: It is my position that in the absence of finding dereliction or breach of duty, there could not be immediate action taken. But there was a process that was immediately instituted, and which led to decisions being made. POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. The decision was to put these back in full back pay, keep them on as employees. That was the decision made as a result of the processes you put in place. I will tell you, the folks in Kansas don’t think that is accountability.
I want to do some math with you. Can I get the first chart, please? Do you know how many security requests there were in the first quarter of 2012?
CLINTON: For everyone, or for Benghazi?
POMPEO: I’m sorry, yes, ma’am, related to Benghazi in Libya. Do you know how many there were?
CLINTON: No, I do not know.
POMPEO: Ma’am, there were just over a 100-plus. Second quarter, do you know how many there were?
CLINTON: No, I do not.
POMPEO: Ma’am, there were 172-ish. Might have been 171 or 173. That’s — how many were there in July and August and then in that week and few days before the attacks, do you know?
CLINTON: There were a number of them, I know that.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am, 83 by our count.
That’s over 600 requests. You’ve testified here this morning that you had none of those reach your desk; is that correct also?
CLINTON: That’s correct.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, Mr. Blumenthal wrote you 150 e-mails. It appears from the materials we’ve read that all of those reached your desk.
Can you tell us why security requests from your professionals, the men that you just testified — and which I agree, are incredibly professional, incredibly capable people, trained in the art of keeping us all safe, none of those made it to you.
But a man who was a friend of yours, who had never been to Libya, didn’t know much about it, at least that was his testimony, didn’t know much about it, every one of those reports that he sent on to you that had to do with situations on the ground in Libya, those made it to your desk.
You asked for more of them. You read them. You corresponded with him. And yet the folks that worked for you didn’t have the same courtesy.
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, as you’re aware, he’s a friend of mine. He sent me information he thought might be of interest. Some of it was, some of it wasn’t, some of it I forwarded to be followed up on. The professionals and experts who reviewed it found some of it useful, some of it not.
POMPEO: Madam secretary…
CLINTON: He had no official position in the government. And he was not at all my adviser on Libya. He was a friend who sent me information that he thought might be in some way helpful.
POMPEO: Madam secretary, I have lots of friends. They send me things. I have never had somebody send me pieces of intelligence with the level of detail Mr. Blumenthal sent me every week. That’s a special friend.
CLINTON: Well, it was information that had been shared with him that he forwarded on. And as someone who got the vast majority of the information that I acted on from official channels, I read a lot of articles that brought new ideas to my attention, and occasionally people including him and others would give me ideas. They all went into the same process to be evaluated.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. I will tell you that the record we have received to date does not reflect that. It simply doesn’t. We’ve read the e-mails. We’ve read everything we can get our hands on. It’s taken us a long time to get it, but you, you just described all this other information you relied upon. And it doesn’t comport with the record that this committee has been able to establish today.
I want you to take a look at this chart to the left. You’ll see the increasing number of requests, over 600. I think data matters. The pictures are worth a lot. You see the increase in the requests, and the bottom line is the increase in security. And you’ll note that the slope of those two lines is very different.
Can you account for why that is, why we have an increase in requests yet no increase in security?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I can only tell you that I know a number of requests were fulfilled, and some were not. But from my perspective, again, these were handled by the people that were assigned the task of elevating them.
And, you know, I think it’s important to again reiterate that, although there were problems and deficiencies discovered by the Accountability Review Board, the general approach to have security professionals handle security requests, I think still stands.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. I wish you’d have listened to those security professionals.
You described Mr. Stevens as having the best knowledge of Libya of anyone. Your words this morning. And yet when he asked for increased security, he didn’t get it.
May I see the second chart, please? This chart says the same thing; I just talked to you about requests for assistance. This chart — I won’t go through the numbers in detail — we’ve talked about them a bit. But it shows the increasing number of security incidents at the facility, your facility, the State Department facility, in Benghazi, Libya.
And then again, it shows the increase in security being nonexistent. I assume your answer is the same with respect to the fact that we have increasing security incidents, but no corresponding increase in the amount of security?
CLINTON: Congressman, I just have to respectfully disagree. Many security requests were fulfilled.
POMPEO: Well, ma’am…
CLINTON: We would be happy to get that information for the record. So I can’t really tell what it is you’re putting on that poster, but I know that a number of the security requests were fulfilled for Benghazi.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. What it shows is that the number of diplomatic security agents at the beginning of 2012, and those that — they were there that day of the — the murder of four Americans is no different.
CLINTON: Congressman, the decision, as I recall, was that the post, namely embassy Tripoli on behalf of Benghazi, requested five diplomatic security personnel, and they did have that on the day that Chris Stevens was in Benghazi.
Unfortunately, that proved insufficient in the face of the kind of attack that they were facing.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. May — put the next poster up, please. Madam Secretary, you’re not likely to know who these two folks are, do you?
CLINTON: I do not.
POMPEO: The one on the left is Mohamed al-Zahawi. He was the head of Ansar al-Sharia, a jihadist group based in Benghazi. The man on your left is Wissam bin Hamid. Were you aware that your folks in Benghazi, Libya met with that man on the — within 48 hours before the attack?
CLINTON: I know nothing about any meeting with him.
POMPEO: On September 11th, on the day that he was killed, Ambassador Stevens sent a cable through the State Department talking about his meeting with Mr. Bin Hamid. Are you aware of that cable?
CLINTON: No, I’m not.
POMPEO: He said — in his cable, he said they — referring to Mr. Wissam Bin Hamid — they wanted an introductory meeting, they were here. They asked us what we needed to bring security to Benghazi. So your officials were meeting with this man on the ground in Benghazi, Libya, discussing security, two days before that. But in August of that same year, the United States government had said that this very man was, quote, “a young rebel leader who allegedly fought in Iraq under the flag of al-Qaida.”
Were you aware that our folks were either wittingly or unwittingly meeting with al-Qaida on the ground in Benghazi, Libya, just hours before the attack?
CLINTON: I know nothing about this, Congressman.
POMPEO: I think that’s deeply disturbing. I think the fact that your team was meeting…
CLINTON: I’m sorry. Which team is this, Mr….
POMPEO: Your team would have been — we don’t know exactly who…
CLINTON: Well, it would be helpful…
POMPEO: It would have been one of the — one of your State Department employees, Madam Secretary, I don’t know which one. Perhaps you could enlighten us or help us get the records we need to do so.
POMPEO: To date, we’ve been able to learn that.
CLINTON: Well since we didn’t have an ongoing significant presence of State Department personnel in Benghazi, I don’t know to whom you are referring.
POMPEO: Mr. Chairman, I’ll yield back the balance of my time.
GOWDY: The gentleman from Kansas yields. The chair will now recognize the gentlelady from California, Ms. Sanchez.
SANCHEZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Madam Secretary, for coming again to answer our questions. We know over the last 17 months there have been a number of allegations that have been made with respect to you, and when the facts and the testimony and the record don’t support that, we seem to move on to the next, you know, new allegation.
One of the more recent ones is that Republicans are claiming that because you received e-mails from Sidney Blumenthal that he was your primary source for intelligence. Now, Chairman Gowdy claimed that Mr. Blumenthal was, and I’m going to quote him here, quote, “Secretary Clinton’s primary adviser on Libya because nearly half of all the e- mails sent to and from Secretary Clinton regarding Benghazi and Libya prior to the Benghazi terrorist attacks involved Sidney Blumenthal,” end quote.
He also claimed that Mr. Blumenthal was, and I’m quoting again, “one of the folks providing her the largest volume of information about Libya.” Secretary Clinton, was Sidney Blumenthal your primary policy adviser or your primary intelligence officer?
CLINTON: No. Of course not.
SANCHEZ: Was he the primary source of information that you were receiving on Libya?
CLINTON: No, absolutely not.
SANCHEZ: Can you tell us, then, who were you receiving information from and in what form? Because there’s been a particular emphasis on e-mail communication and e-mail communication only.
CLINTON: Well, as I testified earlier, I did not primarily conduct business on e-mail with officials in our government. And I think the e-mails that have been produced thus far demonstrate that as well.
As I said, I got intelligence briefings from the intelligence community. I had a very experienced group of senior diplomats who knew quite a bit about Libya. Deputy Secretary Bill Burns had been our nation’s top diplomat, who actually had negotiated with Gadhafi.
Prior to the entering in by the United States to support our European allies and Arab partners, I sent a team to meet with representatives of Gadhafi to see if there were some way that he would back down and back off of his increasingly hysterical threats against his own people.
We had people like the ambassador that I referenced earlier who had served in Libya and had the occasion to observe and to meet with Gadhafi. So we had a very large group of American diplomats, intelligence officers, and some private citizens who were experts in Libya who were available to our government. And we took advantage of every person we could with expertise to guide our decision-making.
SANCHEZ: So would it be fair to say that you received information from Ambassador Stevens?
SANCHEZ: The assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs?
SANCHEZ: The director of policy planning, Jacob Sullivan?
SANCHEZ: The National Security Council?
SANCHEZ: The intelligence community?
SANCHEZ: The Defense Department?
SANCHEZ: This weekend, one of our colleagues on this panel, Mr. Pompeo, went on Meet the Press and I wonder if we could queue up the video. He had this exchange.
Can we please play the video clip?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: … Mr. Blumenthal. It goes directly to the security issue. We see now that former Secretary Clinton relied on Mr. Blumenthal for most of her intelligence. That is, she was relying…
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: That is factually not true.
POMPEO: No, it is absolutely factually correct.
MITCHELL: Relied on Mr. Blumenthal for most of her intelligence? You (inaudible).
POMPEO: Ms. Mitchell, take a look — take a look at the e-mail trail and you will see.
MITCHELL: That’s just — I cover the State Department. That is just factually not correct. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: That clip for me just defies all logic. And I think Andrea Mitchell correctly called him out on something that was a falsehood.
Secretary Clinton, what did you think when you heard that clip?
CLINTON: Well, that it was factually untrue. And I think your questioning and what I have stated today is a much clearer and more factual description of how we gathered information to make our decisions regarding Libya.
SANCHEZ: With your answer that you believe it to be factually incorrect, I just want to add that The Washington Post fact-checker immediately awarded that claim for Pinocchios, which is the worst rating possible. And I’m going to quote the Post on what they said about that quote, “Looking at her private e-mails is just part of the picture and it ignores the fast amount of information, much of it classified, that is available to the secretary of state.”
Secretary Clinton, would you agree with that statement from The Washington Post?
CLINTON: Yes, I would.
SANCHEZ: OK. So, it seems to me, you know, there have been allegations that the work that this committee has done has been political in nature. And that much of the facts have already been decided before all of the evidence is in, including your testimony here today.
When I see clips like that, it sort of supports the theory that this panel is not really interested in investigating what happened just prior to, the evening of, and immediately in the aftermath of September 11th, 2012, but that in fact there is another motive behind that.
We have you here, and so while you are here I want to make the most of your time and allow you to sort of debunk many of the myths that have been generated over the last 17 months, most of which have no factual basis for those being said.
One is that you seemingly were disengaged the evening of September 11th, 2012. For example, Mike Huckabee accused you, as Mr. Cummings said, of ignoring the warning calls from dying Americans in Benghazi. And Senator Rand Paul stated that Benghazi was a three a.m. phone call that you never picked up. And Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted where the hell were you on the night of the Benghazi attack.
Those appear to be based on the testimony of witnesses and the documentation that we have obtained in this committee and other previous committees. They seem to run counter to the truth because the testimony we’ve received states pretty much that you were deeply engaged the night of the attack. So, can you describe for us what the initial hours of that night were like for you and how you learned about the attacks? And what your initial thoughts and actions were?
CLINTON: Well, Congresswoman, I learned about the attacks from a State Department official rushing into my office shortly after or around 4 o’clock, to tell me that our compound in Benghazi had been attacked. We immediately summoned all of the top officials in the State Department for them to begin reaching out. The most important, quick call was to try to reach Chris himself. That was not possible. Then to have the diplomatic security people try to reach their agents. That was not possible. They were obviously defending themselves, along with the ambassador and Sean Smith.
We reached the second in command in Tripoli. He had heard shortly before we reached him, from Chris Stevens, telling him that they were under attack. We began to reach out to everyone we could possibly think who could help with this terrible incident.
CLINTON: During the course of the, you know, following hours, obviously I spoke to the White House. I spoke to CIA Director Petraeus. I spoke to the Libyan officials because I hoped that there was some way that they could gather up and deploy those who had been part of the insurgency to defend our compound.
I had conference calls with our team in Tripoli. I was on a — what’s called a SVTS, a, you know, videoconference with officials who had operational responsibilities in the Defense Department, in the CIA, at the National Security Council.
It was just a swirl and whirl of constant effort to try to figure out what we could do. And it was deeply — it was deeply distressing when we heard that the efforts by our CIA colleagues were not successful, that they had had to evacuate the security officers, our diplomatic security officers, that they had recovered Sean Smith’s body and they could not find the ambassador.
We didn’t know whether he had escaped and was still alive or not.
SANCHEZ: If I may, because my time is running short, I just want to point out that you spoke with folks on the ground, you spoke with folks in the White House, the CIA, the Libyan president of the general national congress.
Now, interestingly enough, former director of the CIA, David Petraeus, has not been before this committee and has not spoken with this committee. But he did testify before the House Intelligence Committee in 2012 and he said that you personally called him and asked him for help that night.
And I just want to end on this quote.
Quote, “When secretary Clinton called me later that afternoon to indicate that Ambassador Stevens was missing and asked for help, I directed our folks to ensure that we were doing everything possible and that is, of course, what they were doing that night.”
Is that correct?
CLINTON: That is. And also the Defense Department was doing everything it could possibly do. We had a plane bringing additional security from Tripoli to Benghazi. There was an enormous amount of activity, everyone. It was all hands on deck, everyone jumped in to try to figure out what they could do. The attack on the compound was very fast.
SANCHEZ: So would it be safe to say that you were fully engaged that evening?
CLINTON: That is certainly safe to say, Congresswoman.
SANCHEZ: Thank you.
And I yield back.
GOWDY: The gentlelady from California yields back.
The chair would now recognize the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Jordan.
JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
You just gave a long answer, Madam Secretary, to Ms. Sanchez about what you heard that night, what you’re doing. But nowhere in there did you mention a video. You didn’t mention a video because there was never a video-inspired protest in Benghazi. There was in Cairo but not in Benghazi.
Victoria Nuland, your spokesperson at the State Department, hours after the attacks said this, “Benghazi has been attacked by militants. In Cairo, police have removed demonstrators.”
Benghazi, you got weapons and explosions. Cairo, you got spray paint and rocks.
One hour before the attack in Benghazi, Chris Stevens walks a diplomat to the front gate. The ambassador didn’t report a demonstration. He didn’t report it because it never happened. An eyewitness in the command center that night on the ground said no protest, no demonstration; two intelligence reports that day, no protest, no demonstration.
The attack starts at 3:42 Eastern time, ends at approximately 11:40 pm that night.
At 4:06, an ops alert goes out across the State Department.
It says this, “Mission under attack, armed men, shots fired, explosions heard.”
No mention of video, no mention of a protest, no mention of a demonstration.
But the best evidence is Greg Hicks, the number two guy in Libya, the guy who worked side by side with Ambassador Stevens. He was asked, if there had been a protest, would the ambassador have reported it?
Mr. Hicks’s response, “Absolutely.”
For there to have been a demonstration on Chris Stevens’ front door and him not to have reported it is unbelievable, Mr. Hicks.
He said, secondly, if it had been reported, he would have been out the back door within minutes and there was a back gate.
Everything points to a terrorist attack. We just heard from Mr. Pompeo about the long history of terrorist incidents, terrorist violence in the country.
And yet five days later Susan Rice goes on five TV shows and she says this, “Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction as a consequence of a video,” a statement we all know is false. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what others have said.
“Rice was off the reservation,” off the reservation on five networks, White House worried about the politics. Republicans didn’t make those statements. They were made by the people who worked for you in the Near Eastern Affairs bureau, the actual experts on Libya in the State Department.
So if there’s no evidence for a video-inspired protest, then where did the false narrative start?
It started with you, Madam Secretary.
At 10:08, on the night of the attack, you released this statement, “Some have sought to justify the vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”
At 10:08, with no evidence, at 10:08, before the attack is over, at 10:08, when Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty are still on the roof of the annex, fighting for their lives, the official statement of the State Department blames a video.
CLINTON: During the day on September 11th, as you did mention, Congressman, there was a very large protest against our embassy in Cairo. Protesters breached the walls. They tore down the American flag. And it was of grave concern to us because the inflammatory video had been shown on Egyptian television, which has a broader reach than just inside Egypt.
And if you look at what I said, I referred to the video that night in a very specific way. I said, some have sought to justify the attack because of the video.
I used those words deliberately, not to ascribe a motive to every attacker but as a warning to those across the region that there was no justification for further attacks.
And, in fact, during the course of that week, we had many attacks that were all about the video. We had people breaching the walls of our embassies in Tunis, in Khartoum; we had people, thankfully not Americans, dying at protests. But that’s what was going on, Congressman. JORDAN: Secretary Clinton, I appreciate most of those attacks were after the attack on the facility in Benghazi. You mentioned Cairo. It was interesting what else Ms. Nuland said that day.
She said, “If pressed by the press, if there’s a connection between Cairo and Benghazi,” she said this, “there’s no connection between the two.”
So here’s what troubles me. Your experts knew the truth. Your spokesperson knew the truth. Greg Hicks knew the truth.
But what troubles me more is I think you knew the truth.
I want to show you a few things here. You’re looking at an e- mail you sent to your family.
Here’s what you said at 11:00 that night, approximately one hour after you told the American people it was a video, you say to your family, “Two officers were killed today in Benghazi by an Al Qaeda- like group.”
You tell — you tell the American people one thing, you tell your family an entirely different story.
Also on the night of the attack, you had a call with the president of Libya. Here’s what you said to him.
“Ansar al-Sharia is claiming responsibility.”
It’s interesting; Mr. Khattala, one of the guys arrested in charge actually belonged to that group.
And finally, most significantly, the next day, within 24 hours, you had a conversation with the Egyptian prime minister.
You told him this, “We know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.”
Let me read that one more time.
“We know,” not we think, not it might be, “we know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.”
State Department experts knew the truth. You knew the truth. But that’s not what the American people got. And again, the American people want to know why.
Why didn’t you tell the American people exactly what you told the Egyptian prime minister?
CLINTON: Well, I think if you look at the statement that I made, I clearly said that it was an attack. And I also said that there were some who tried to justify…
(CROSSTALK) JORDAN: Secretary Clinton…
CLINTON: … on the basis — on the basis of the video, Congressman.
And I think…
JORDAN: Real, real quick, calling it an attack is like saying the sky is blue. Of course it was an attack.
JORDAN: We want to know the truth. The statement you sent out was a statement on Benghazi and you say vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material on the Internet. If that’s not pointing as the motive of being a video, I don’t know what is. And that’s certainly what — and that’s certainly how the American people saw it.
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, there was a lot of conflicting information that we were trying to make sense of. The situation was very fluid. It was fast-moving. There was also a claim of responsibility by Ansar al-Sharia. And when I talked to the Egyptian prime minister, I said that this was a claim of responsibility by Ansar al-Sharia, by a group that was affiliated — or at least wanted to be affiliated — with Al Qaida.
Sometime after that, the next — next day, early the next morning after that, on the 12th or 13th, they retracted their claim of responsibility.
JORDAN: Madam Secretary…
CLINTON: And I think if — if you look at what all of us were trying to do, and we were in a position, Congressman, of trying to make sense of a lot of incoming information…
CLINTON: … and watch the way the intelligence community tried to make sense of it.
JORDAN: Madam Secretary, there was not…
CLINTON: So all I can say is nobody…
JORDAN: … conflicting — there was not conflicting information the day of the attack, because your press secretary said, “if pressed, there is no connection between Cairo and Benghazi.” It was clear. You’re the ones who muddied it up, not the — not the information.
CLINTON: Well, there’s no connection…
JORDAN: Here’s what — here’s what I think that — here’s what I think is going on. Here’s what I think’s going on.
Let me show you one more slide. Again, this is from Victoria Nuland, your press person. She says to Jake Sullivan, Philippe Reines. Subject line reads this: Romney’s Statement on Libya.
E-mail says, “This is what Ben was talking about.” I assume Ben is the now-somewhat-famous Ben Rhodes, author of the talking points memo. This e-mail’s at 10:35, 27 minutes after your 10:08 — 27 minutes after you’ve told everyone it’s a video, while Americans are still fighting because the attack’s still going on, your top people are talking politics.
It seems to me that night you had three options, Secretary. You could tell the truth, like you did with your family, like you did with the Libyan president, like you did with the Egyptian prime minister — tell them it was a terrorist attack.
You could say, “you know what, we’re not quite sure. Don’t — don’t really know for sure.” I don’t — I don’t think the evidence — I think it’s all in the person (ph) — but you could have done that.
But you picked the third option. You picked the video narrative. You picked the one with no evidence. And you did it because Libya was supposed to be — and Mr. Roskam pointed out, this great success story for the Obama White House and the Clinton State Department.
And a key campaign theme that year was GM’s alive, bin Laden’s dead, Al Qaida’s on the run. And now you have a terrorist attack, and it’s a terrorist attack in Libya, and it’s just 56 days before an election.
You can live with a protest about a video. That won’t hurt you. But a terrorist attack will. So you can’t be square with the American people. You tell your family it’s a terrorist attack, but not the American people. You can tell the president of Libya it’s a terrorist attack, but not the American people. And you can tell the Egyptian prime minister it’s a terrorist attack, but you can’t tell your own people the truth.
Madam Secretary, Americans can live with the fact that good people sometimes give their lives for this country. They don’t like it. They mourn for those families. They pray for those families.
But they can live with it. But what they can’t take, what they can’t live with, is when their government’s not square with them.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
GOWDY: Madam Secretary, you’re welcome to answer the question, if you would like to.
CLINTON: Well, I wrote a whole chapter about this in my book, Hard Choices. I’d be glad to send it to you, Congressman, because I think the insinuations that you are making do a grave disservice to the hard work that people in the State Department, the intelligence community, the Defense Department, the White House did during the course of some very confusing and difficult days.
There is no doubt in my mind that we did the best we could with the information that we had at the time. And if you’d actually go back and read what I said that night…
JORDAN: I have.
CLINTON: … I was very — I was very careful in saying that some have sought to justify. In fact, the man that has been arrested as one of the ringleaders of what happened in Benghazi, Ahmed Abu Khattala, is reported to have said it was the video that motivated him.
None of us can speak to the individual motivations of those terrorists who overran our compound and who attacked our CIA annex. There were probably a number of different motivations.
I think the intelligence community, which took the lead on trying to sort this out, as they should have, went through a series of interpretations and analysis. And we were all guided by that.
CLINTON: We were not making up the intelligence. We were trying to get it, make sense of it, and then to share it.
When I was speaking to the Egyptian prime minister or in the other two examples you showed, we had been told by Ansar al-Sharia that they took credit for it. It wasn’t until about 24 or more hours later, that they retracted taking credit for it.
JORDAN: Secretary Clinton…
CLINTON: We also knew, Congressman, because my responsibility was what was happening throughout the region, I needed to be talking about the video, because I needed to put other governments and other people on notice that we were not going to let them get away with attacking us, as they did in Tunis, is they did in Khartoum.
And in Tunis there were thousands of protesters who were there only because of the video, breaching the calls of our embassy, burning down the American school. I was calling everybody in the Tunisian government I could get, and finally, President Marzouki sent his presidential guard to break it up. There were — is example after example. That’s what I was trying to do, during those very desperate and difficult hours.
JORDAN: Secretary Clinton — if I could, Mr. Chairman — Secretary Clinton, you said my insinuation. I’m not insinuating anything. I’m reading what you said. Plain language. We know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. That’s as plain as it can get; that’s vastly different than vicious behavior justified by Internet material.
Why didn’t you just speak plain to the American people?
CLINTON: I did. If you look at my statement as opposed to what I was saying to the Egyptian prime minister, I did state clearly, and I said it again in more detail the next morning, as did the president.
I’m sorry that it doesn’t fit your narrative, Congressman. I can only tell you what the facts were. And the facts, as the Democratic members have pointed out in their most recent collection of them, support this process that was going on, where the intelligence community was pulling together information.
And it’s very much harder to do it these days than it used to be, because you have to monitor social media, for goodness’s sakes. That’s where the Ansar al-Sharia claim was placed. The intelligence committee did the best job they could, and we all did our best job to try to figure out what was going on, and then to convey that to the American people.
GOWDY: The gentleman’s time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Schiff.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Madam secretary, We’re almost at the end of the first round of questions. I’ll have an opportunity, then the chairman will, before we have a break, just to let you know where we are in the scheme of things.
So, I want to take a moment to think about what we’ve covered in this round. In particular, a comment on where this began, with the chairman’s statement.
The chairman said at the outset of the hearing that the American people are entitled to the truth, the truth about what happened in Benghazi, the truth about the security there, the truth about what happened after the attack.
The implication of this, of course, is that the American premium don’t know the truth, that this is the first investigation we have ever had. The reality is, we’ve had eight investigations. We’ve gone through this endlessly.
And if we look at the documentary record, we have the ARB report. We have the report of the Armed Services Committee, led by Republican Buck McKeon, which debunked the stand down order allegation. We have the report of the committee on government reform.
We have the report of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. We have the report of the house Foreign Affairs Committee. We have the GOP conference’s own report. We have the report of the Intelligence Committee on which I serve.
Now, bear in mind, these aren’t with their accompanying exhibits or the classified stuff, because it would be up through the ceiling if I included them.
This is the report of our committee. This is what $4.7 million of taxpayer money buy you. This is what 17 months of investigation have shown.
Now, the chairman said, and he’s a very good lawyer and a good former prosecutor, we have a lot of former prosecutors here on the panel. He gave you a great recitation of the number of witnesses and the number of documents. There are too many good prosecutors on this panel not to know that when a lawyer describes the metrics of the success of an investigation by the sheer number of people they’ve talked to or the volume of documents, it says nothing about the substance of what they’ve learned, that there’s a problem.
And the reality is that after 17 months, we have nothing new to tell the families. We have nothing new to tell the American people. We have discovered nothing that alters the core conclusions of the eight investigations that went on before. Now, my colleagues have been saying quite often this week, with amazing regularity, that this is a fact-centric investigation. And I agree, so I would like to talk about president facts which are centric to this investigation, because while the American people are entitled to the truth about Benghazi they’re also entitled to the truth about our committee.
Fact: what gave rise to your appearance today was many months ago, a group called the Stop Hillary PAC which aired an offensive ad during the Democratic debate showing the tombstone of Ambassador Stevens, among other things, delivered 264,000 signatures demanding you appear before us.
Fact: it was the next day the majority approached us to have you come before this committee. Fact: after The New York times issued its story in March, this committee canceled all other hearing hearings except for a hearing with a witness named Clinton.
Fact: we abandoned our plans to bring in the secretary of Defense and the head of the CIA. Fact: we haven’t had a single hearing from the Department of Defense — with the Department of Defense in 17 months.
Fact: of the 70,000 pages of documents obtained by the Select Committee, the only documents that the chairman has chose on the release publicly are your e-mails with Sidney Blumenthal.
Fact: of the 32 press releases that have been issued since March of this year, 27 of them are about you, or the State Department and five are about everything else.
Fact: as recently as last week, the chairman issued a 13-page letter which is alleges you risked it had lives of people by sending an e-mail that contained the name of a classified CIA source. Fact: CIA told us there was nothing in that e-mail that was classified, nor was the name of that person, who is well known to many.
The chairman has said that this will be the final, definitive report. One thing that I think we can tell already — there will be nothing final about this report. Wherever we finish, if ever we finish, the problem we’ve had as a committee, is we don’t know what we’re looking for.
But there won’t be a final conclusion. There won’t be anything definitive about the work of this committee, because unlike the Accountability Review Board that operated in a non-partisan way, it’s unlikely the majority here will even consult with us on what their final report looks like.
Those who want to believe the worst will believe the worst. Those that want to believe that this is a partisan exercise will believe it. As I said from the beginning of the investigation, the only way this committee will add any value to what’s gone on before is if we can find a way to work together and reach a common conclusion.
But it’s plain that’s not their object. The chairman might say, ignore the words of our Republican leadership, ignore the words of our Republican members, ignore the words of our own GOP investigator. Judge us by our actions. But it is the actions of the committee that are the most damning of all, because they have been singly focused on you.
Let me ask you briefly, because I want to expand on just the — what I think is the core theory here. I want to give you a chance to respond to it.
You know, as a prosecutor, we’re taught every case should have a core theory, and the evidence and the witnesses go back to that core theory. And I’ve wrestled as I’ve listened to my colleagues today, as I have over 17 months. What is the core theory of their case? What are they trying to convey?
And I have to say I think it’s confusing. I think the core theory is this — that you deliberately interfered with security in Benghazi and that resulted in people dying. I think that is the case they want to make, and notwithstanding how many investigations we’ve had that have found absolutely no merit to that, that is the impression they wish to give.
Well, I have to say, I’m a little confused today because my colleague pointed to an e-mail suggesting that you weren’t aware we had a presence in Benghazi, so if you weren’t aware we had a presence I don’t know how you could have interfered with the security there.
But nonetheless, I do think that’s what they’re aiming at. I know the ambassador was someone you helped pick. I know the ambassador was a friend of yours, and I wonder if you would like to comment on what it’s like to be the subject of an allegation that you deliberately interfered with security that cost the life of a friend.
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, it’s a very personally painful accusation. It has been rejected and disproven by non-partisan, dispassionate investigators. But nevertheless, having it continued to be bandied around is deeply distressing to me.
You know, I’ve — I would imagine I’ve thought more about what happened than all of you put together. I’ve lost more sleep than all of you put together. I have been wracking my brain about what more could have been done or should have been done.
And so, when I took responsibility, I took it as a challenge and an obligation to make sure, before I left the State Department, that what we could learn — as I’m sure my predecessors did after Beirut and after Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and after all the other attacks on our facilities, I’m sure all of them — Republican and Democrat alike — especially where there was loss of American life — said, “OK, what must we do better?
“How do we protect the men and women that we send without weapons, without support from the military, into some of the most dangerous places in the world?”
And so I will continue to speak out and do everything I can from whatever position I’m in to honor the memory of those we lost and to work as hard as I know to try to create more understanding and cooperation between the State Department, our diplomats, our development professionals from USAID and the Congress so that the Congress is a partner with us, as was the case in previous times.
I would like us to get back to those times, Congressman. Whereas I think one of you said, Beirut, we lost far more Americans, not once but twice within a year. There was no partisan effort. People rose above politics.
A Democratic Congress worked with a Republican administration to say, “what do we need to learn?” Out of that came the legislation for the Accountability Review Board.
Similarly, after we lost more Americans in the bombings in east Africa, again, Republicans and Democrats worked together, said, “what do we need to do better?”
So I’m — I’m an optimist, Congressman. I’m hoping that that will be the outcome of this and every other effort, so that we really do honor not only those we lost, but all those who, right as we speak, are serving in dangerous places, representing the values and the interests of the American people.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
GOWDY: The gentleman from California yields back. I’m going to address a couple things that he said and then recognize myself. Because he invoked the family members of the four (ph), Madam Secretary, and partially this will be for your benefit also. But I want to specifically address the family members that are here.
There is no theory of the prosecution, Mr. Schiff, because there is no prosecution. There’s a very big difference between a prosecution, where you already have reached a conclusion and you’re just trying to prove it to people.
This is an investigation, which is why it’s so sad that nowhere in that stack that you just put up there were the e-mails of Secretary Clinton, the e-mails of the ambassador, 50,000 — 50,000 pages worth of documents, eyewitnesses.
That’s the real tragedy. To the family and the friends. When you’re told that there have been seven previous investigations and an ARB, you should immediately ask, “why did you miss so many witnesses? Why did you miss so many documents?”
This is not a prosecution, Mr. Schiff. You and I are both familiar with them. I’ve reached no conclusions, and I would advise you to not reach any conclusions, either, until we reach the end.
There are 20 more witnesses, so I’ll agree not to reach any conclusions if you’ll do the same.
With that, Madam Secretary, regardless of where he ranked in the order of advisers, it is undisputed that a significant number of your e-mails were to or from a Sidney Blumenthal.
Now, he did not work for the State Department. He didn’t work for the U.S. government at all. He wanted to work for the State Department, but the White House said no to him.
Do you recall who specifically at the White House rejected Sidney Blumenthal?
CLINTON: No, I do not.
GOWDY: After he was turned down for a job at the State Department by the White House, he went to work where?
CLINTON: I think he had a number of consulting contracts with different entities.
GOWDY: Well, if he had a number of them, do you recall any of them?
CLINTON: I know that he did some work for my husband.
GOWDY: Well, he worked for the Clinton Foundation.
CLINTON: That’s — that’s correct.
GOWDY: OK. He worked for Media Matters.
CLINTON: I — I’m sure he did.
GOWDY: He worked for Correct the Record.
CLINTON: I’m sure he did.
GOWDY: When you were asked about Sidney Blumenthal you said he was an old friend who sent you unsolicited e-mails, which you passed in some instances because you wanted to hear from people outside what you called the bubble.
We will ignore for a second whether or not Sidney Blumenthal is outside the bubble, but I do want to ask you about a couple of those other comments, because what you left out was that he was an old friend who knew absolutely nothing about Libya, was critical of President Obama and others that you work with, loved to send you political and image advice, had business interests in Libya, which he not only alerted you to, but solicited your help for.
And you often forwarded his e-mails, but usually only after you redacted out any identifier, so nobody knew where the information was coming from.
What does the word unsolicited mean to you?
CLINTON: It means that I did not ask him to send me the information that he sent me, and as I have previously stated, some of it I found interesting, some of it I do not. Some of it I forwarded, some of it I do not.
I did not know anything about any business interest. I thought that, just as I said previously, newspaper articles, journalists, of which he is one — a former journalist — had some interesting insights. And so, you know, we took them on board and evaluated them, and some were helpful and others were not.
GOWDY: We’re going to get to all the points you just made, but I want to start with your — your public comment that these e-mails were unsolicited.
You wrote to him, Another keeper, thanks and please keep them coming. Greetings from Kabul and thanks for keeping this stuff coming. Any other info about it? What are you hearing now? Got it, we’ll follow up tomorrow. Anything else to convey?
Now, that one is interesting because that was the very e-mail where Mr. Blumenthal was asking you to intervene on behalf of a business deal that he was pursuing in Libya.
What did you mean by What are you hearing now?
CLINTON: I have no idea, Congressman.
They started out unsolicited and, as I said, some were of interest. I passed them on, and some were not. And so he continued to provide me information that was made available to him.
GOWDY: I — I don’t want to parse words and — and I don’t want to be hypertechnical, because it’s not a huge point, but it is an important point. You didn’t say they started off unsolicited. You said they were — you said they were unsolicited.
CLINTON: Well, they were unsolicited. But obviously, I did respond to some of them.
GOWDY: Well, anything else…
CLINTON: … And I’m sure that encouraged him.
GOWDY: … Anything else to convey? What are you hearing now? I’m going to Paris tomorrow night, will meet with TNC (ph) leaders, so this and additional info useful. Still don’t have electricity or BlackBerry coverage post-Iran, so I’ve had to resort to my new iPad. Let me know if you received this.
We’ll talk about the new iPad in a little bit. Here’s another one.
This report is in part a response to your questions. That’s an e-mail from him to you. This is — this report is, in part, a response to your questions. There will be further information in the next day.
If you’re the one asking him for information, how does that square with the definition of unsolicited? CLINTON: I said it began that way, Mr. Chairman, and I will add that both Chris Stevens and Gene Cretz (ph) found some of the information interesting — far more than I could, because they knew some of the characters who were being mentioned, and they were the ones — the kind of persons with the expertise — that I asked to evaluate to see whether there was any useful information.
GOWDY: We’re gonna get to that in a second, now. Before you give Mr. Blumenthal too much credit, you agree he didn’t write a single one of those cables or memos he sent you.
CLINTON: I’m sorry, what?
GOWDY: He didn’t write a single one of those cables or memos.
CLINTON: I — I don’t know who wrote them. He’s the one who sent them to me.
GOWDY: Would you be surprised to know not a single one of those was from him?
CLINTON: I don’t know where he got the information that he was sending to me.
GOWDY: Did you ask? Did you — did you ask?
You’re sending me very specific detailed intelligence, what is your source? That seems like a pretty good question.
CLINTON: Well, I — I did learn later that he was talking to or sharing information from former American Intelligence Official.
GOWDY: By the name of? Who wrote those cables?
CLINTON: I don’t recall — I don’t know, Mr. chairman.
GOWDY: You had this information passed on to others, but, at least on one occasion, you as a Ms. Abenine (ph) can you print without any identifiers?
Why would you want his name removed?
CLINTON: Because I thought that it would be more important to just look at the substance, and to make a determination as to whether or not there was anything to it.
GOWDY: Well, don’t people have a right to know the source of the information so they can determine credibility?
CLINTON: But he wasn’t, as you just said, the source of the information…
GOWDY: But you didn’t know that, Madam Secretary. And that’s what you just said.
CLINTON: No, no, Mr. chairman, I said that I knew — I knew that he didn’t have the sources to provide that information. I knew he was getting it from somewhere else, whether they — he knew a lot of journalists…
GOWDY: Did — did you ask where?
CLINTON: … He knew others in Washington. It could have been a variety of people.
GOWDY: If you’re gonna — if you’re going to determine credibility, don’t you want to know the source?
CLINTON: Well, it wasn’t credibility so much as trying to follow the threads that were mentioned about individuals. And, as I already stated, some of it was useful and some of it was not.
GOWDY: Well, did the president know that Mr. Blumenthal was advising you?
CLINTON: He wasn’t advising me. And, you know, Mr. chairman…
GOWDY: Did he know that he was your most prolific e-mailer that we have found on the subjects of Libya and Benghazi?
CLINTON: That’s because I didn’t do most of my work about Libya…
GOWDY: That’s fair.
CLINTON: … On e-mail.
GOWDY: I’m not challenging that, Madam Secretary. I am not challenging that.
All I’m telling you is that documents show he was your most prolific e-mailer on Libya and Benghazi. And my question to you is, did the president — the same White House that said you can’t handle him, and can’t hire him — did he know that he was advising you?
CLINTON: He was not advising me, and I have no reason to have ever mentioned that or know that the president knew that.
GOWDY: All right. I want to draw your attention to an e-mail about Libya from Mr. Blumenthal to you dated April 2011. It will be Exhibit 67.
And this is — this is informative. “Should we pass this on,” and in parentheticals, “unidentified to the White House?”
If you were gonna pass something on to the White House, why would you take off the identifiers?
CLINTON: Because it was important to evaluate the information, and from a lot of intelligence that I have certainly reviewed over the years, you often don’t have the source of the intelligence. You look at the intelligence, and you try to determine whether or not it is credible. Whether it can be followed up on. GOWDY: Well, I’m gonna accept the fact that you and I come from different backgrounds, because I can tell you that an unsourced comment could never be uttered in any courtroom. You have to have the…
CLINTON: But we’re not talking about courtrooms, Mr. chairman. We’re talking about intelligence.
GOWDY: No, we’re talking about credibility and the ability to assess who a source is, and whether or not that source has ever been to Libya, knows anything about Libya, or has business interests in Libya — all of which would be important if you were going to determine the credibility, which I think is why you probably took his information off of what you sent to the White House.
But here’s another possible explanation. It may give us a sense of why, maybe the White House didn’t want you to hire him in the first place.
In one e-mail he wrote this about the president’s Secretary of Defense: “I infer gate (ph) problem as losing an internal debate. Tyler…” And by the way, Tyler Drumheller (ph), that’s who actually authored the cables that you got from Mr. Blumenthal.
“… Tyler knows him well and says he’s a mean, vicious, little…” I’m not gonna say the word, but he did.
This is an e-mail from Blumenthal to you about the president’ Security of Defense.
And here’s another Blumenthal e-mail to you about the president’s national security adviser. “Frankly, Tom Donelan’s (ph) babbling rhetoric about narratives on a phone briefing of reporters on March the 10th has inspired derision among foreign — serious foreign policy analysts both here and abroad.”
And here’s another from, what you say is your old friend Sidney Blumenthal. This is a quote from him. “I would say Obama…” — and by the way, he left the president part out. “I would say Obama appears to be intent on seizing defeat from the jaws of victory. He and his political cronies in the White House and Chicago are, to say the least, unenthusiastic about regime change in Libya. Obama’s lukewarm and self-contradicting statements have produced what is, at least for the moment, operational paralysis.”
GOWDY: I think, that may give us a better understanding of why the White House may have told you, you cannot hire him.
Blumenthal could not get hired by our government, didn’t pass any background check at all, had no role with our government, had never been to Libya, had no expertise in Libya, was critical of the president and others that you worked with, shared polling data with you on the intervention in Libya, gave you political advice on how to take credit for Libya, all the while working for The Clinton Foundation and some pseudo news entities.
And Madam Secretary, he had unfettered access to you. And he used that access, at least on one occasion, to ask you to intervene on behalf of a business venture.
Do you recall that?
CLINTON: You know, Mr. Chairman, if you don’t have any friends who say unkind things privately I congratulate you. But from my perspective…
GOWDY: I’d like to think I’d correct them.
CLINTON: … I don’t know what this line of questioning does to help us get to the bottom of the deaths of four Americans.
GOWDY: I’ll be happy to help you understand that, madam secretary.
CLINTON: But I want to reiterate what I said to Congresswoman Sanchez. These were originally unsolicited. You’ve just said that perhaps the main, if not the exclusive author, was a former intelligence agent for our country, who rose to the highest levels of the CIA and who was given credit for being one of the very few who pointed out that the intelligence used by the Bush administration to go to war in Iraq was wrong.
So I think that, you know, the sharing of information from an old friend that I did not take at face value, that I sent on to those who were experts, is something that, you know, makes sense.
But it was certainly not in any way the primary source of or the predominant understanding that we had of what was going on in Libya and what we needed to be doing.
GOWDY: Well, Madam Secretary, I’m out of time and we’ll pick this back up the next round but I’ll go ahead and let you know ahead of time why it’s relevant.
It’s relevant because our ambassador was asked to read and respond to Sidney Blumenthal’s drivel. It was sent to him to read and react to, in some instances on the very same day he was asking for security. So I think it is eminently fair to ask why Sidney Blumenthal had unfettered access to you, Madam Secretary, with whatever he wanted to talk about.
And there’s not a single solitary e-mail to or from you to or from Ambassador Stevens. I think that that is fair and we’ll take that up.
CUMMINGS: Will the gentleman yield?
Will the gentleman yield?
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, you’ve made several inaccurate statements over the past month as you have tried to defend against multiple Republican admissions that the Select Committee has been wasting millions of tax dollars to damage Secretary Clinton’s bid for president.
On Sunday, you made another inaccurate statement during your appearance on “Face the Nation” and it’s being taken up here. And this is the relevance.
Here’s what you said, and I quote, “There are other folks who may have equities in her e-mails and there may be other entities who are evaluating her e-mails. But my interest — my interest in them is solely making sure that I get everything I’m entitled to so that I can do my job. The rest of it, classification, The Clinton Foundation, you name it, I have zero interest in it, which is why you haven’t seen me send a subpoena related to it or interview a single person, other than Brian Fabiano (ph), because I need to know that the record is complete. And I’m going back to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
GOWDY: I’m waiting…
CUMMINGS: Mr. Chairman, let me finish.
GOWDY: I’ve been very patient.
CUMMINGS: I’m coming, just wait.
GOWDY: I’m waiting on the inaccurate statement.
CUMMINGS: I’m getting there.
GOWDY: Well, we got to take a break.
CUMMINGS: Well, it’s not going to take a long. You took up four minutes over so let me have three.
GOWDY: I’ve let everybody go over, including you, Mr. Congressman.
CUMMINGS: Thank you very much.
You issued a subpoena to Sidney Blumenthal on May 19th, 2015, compelling him to appear for a deposition on June 16, 2015. You issued this subpoena unilaterally without giving the Select Committee members the opportunity to debate or vote on it.
You sent two armed marshals to serve the subpoena on Mr. Blumenthal’s wife at their home without having ever sent him a request to participate voluntarily, which he would have done.
Then, Mr. Chairman, you personally attended Mr. Blumenthal’s deposition; you person personally asked him about The Clinton Foundation and you personally directed your staff to ask questions about The Clinton Foundation, which they did more than 50 times.
Now these facts directly contradict the statements you made on national television.
GOWDY: No, that’s — no, sir, with all due respect, they do not. We’re — we just heard e-mail after e-mail after e-mail about Libya and Benghazi that Sidney Blumenthal sent to the secretary of state. I don’t care if he sent it by Morse code, carrier pigeon, smoke signals, the fact that he happened to send it by e-mail is irrelevant.
What is relevant is that he was sending information to the secretary of state. That is what’s relevant. Now, with respect to the subpoena, if he’d bothered to answer the telephone calls of our committee, he wouldn’t have needed a subpoena.
CUMMINGS: Will the gentleman yield?
GOWDY: I’ll be happy to but you need to make sure the entire record is correct.
CUMMINGS: Yes. And that’s exactly what I want to do.
GOWDY: Well, then, go ahead.
CUMMINGS: I’m about to tell you.
I move that we put into the record the entire transcript of Sidney Blumenthal. We’re going to release the e-mails; let’s do the transcript. That way the world can see it.
(UNKNOWN): I second that motion.
GOWDY: Well, we didn’t — we didn’t…
CUMMINGS: That motion has been seconded.
GOWDY: Well, we’re not going to take that up at a hearing. We’ll take that up…
CUMMINGS: Mr. Chairman, I have consulted with the parliamentarian and they have informed us that we have a right to record a vote on that — on that motion. We want — you know, you can ask for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Well, that’s what we want to have. You can put that — let the world see it.
GOWDY: Why is it that you only want Mr. Blumenthal’s transcript released?
Why don’t you…
CUMMINGS: I’d like to have all of them released.
GOWDY: The survivors?
Even their names?
You want that?
CUMMINGS: No, you…
GOWDY: You want that released?
CUMMINGS: Well, let me tell you something, right now…
GOWDY: The only one you’ve asked for is Sidney Blumenthal.
That’s the only one you’ve asked for, that and Ms. Mills.
(UNKNOWN): Cheryl Mills, Cheryl Mills.
CUMMINGS: That’s not true.
GOWDY: That’s two out of 54.
(UNKNOWN): The chairman asked for a recorded vote?
GOWDY: You want to ask for some facts…
CUMMINGS: I ask for a recorded vote on the — on the Blumenthal — you said from the beginning we want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Why don’t we just put the entire transcript out there and let the world see it?
What do you have to hide?
SCHIFF (?): These are the only e-mails that you have released and in fairness to Mr. Blumenthal and to the American people, in the interest of a complete record, if you’re going to release his e-mails, release his transcript, where he has a chance to give the context of those e-mails.
GOWDY: Well, you keep referring to Blumenthal e-mails. I would hasten to remind both of you the only reason we have Blumenthal e- mails is because he e-mailed the secretary of state. Those are her e- mails. That’s why they were released. They’re not Blumenthal’s e- mails. And she wanted all of her e-mails released. She’s been saying since March I want the entire world to see my e-mails.
Well, Sidney Blumenthal’s e-mails are part of that.
So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll be happy to talk to the parliamentarian because the parliamentarian told me that your motion actually would not be in order for a hearing. But at the latest we’ll take a vote and the first we are back after this week we’ll have a business meeting, we can take up Mr. Blumenthal’s transcript. We can take up what ever other transcripts you want.
And while we’re there, we can also take up the 20-some odd outstanding discovery requests that we have to different executive branch entities.
Why don’t we just take all of it up then?
SCHIFF: Mr. Chairman, the allegations that have been made against him are refuted by his own testimony, in the interest of not having…
GOWDY: That’s your opinion, Adam.
SCHIFF: Well, if you disagree, then release the transcripts.
GOWDY: What allegation, Adam?
SCHIFF: Why conceal the transcripts?
Even if the motion were not in order, you have to power to release them.
GOWDY: I’ll tell you why, because I’m not going to release one transcript of someone who knows nothing about Libya by his own admission while people who risk their lives — you have no interest in their story getting out. You don’t want the — you don’t want the 18 D.S. agents, you don’t want the CIA agents.
The only transcripts you want released are Ms. Mills and Sidney Blumenthal’s. So we’ll take all of this up… SCHIFF: And the only person you are interested in asking about during her entire questioning was Sidney Blumenthal. If you’re so interested in him, release the transcript. You selectively released his e-mails, they’re the only witness you’ve done that for. So you’re asking why are we only ask asking for his transcript?
GOWDY: I’m going to ask the gentleman from California to please do a better job of characterizing. These are not Sidney Blumenthal’s e-mails. These are Secretary Clinton’s e-mails. And I’ll tell you what, if you think you’ve heard about Sidney Blumenthal so far, wait until the next round.
With that, we’re adjourned.
The second session:
GOWDY: The hearing will come back to order.
Madam Secretary, with your indulgence, we will take up one little house keeping matter.
The question is on the motion of the gentleman to include the document in the record. The Chair opposes the motion.
Those in favor of the motion may signify by — so by saying aye.
Those opposed by no.
CUMMINGS(?): Roll call, Mr. Chairman.
CLERK: Mr. Chairman, I ask for a recorded vote.
GOWDY: A recorded vote has been — has been requested.
Chairman’s says — the Chairman’s vote — what?
GOWDY: Yeah, I’m sorry. Secretary, call the roll.
CLERK: Mr. Westmoreland?
CLERK: Mr. Westmoreland votes no.
UNKNOWN: Mr. Who? I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear.
CLERK: Sorry, Mr. Jordan.
CLERK: Mr. Jordan votes no. Mr. Roskam?.
CLERK: Mr. Roskam votes no.
CLERK: My. Pompeo votes no.
CLERK: Mrs. Roby votes no.
CLERK: Mrs. Brooks votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Cummings votes yes.
CLERK: Mr. Smith votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Schiff votes aye.
CLERK: Ms. Sanchez votes aye.
CLERK: Ms. Duckworth votes aye.
GOWDY: The clerk will report.
CLERK: And Mr. Gowdy.
CLERK: Mr. Gowdy votes no. Yeas five, no’s eight.
GOWDY: And the motion is not agreed to. Madame Secretary…
CLERK: My apologies, sir. It was seven.
GOWDY: Motion’s still not agreed to. Even South Carolina math can figure that out.
Madame Secretary, before we broke, there was a question asked that I thought was a fair question, which is why was I talking about Mr. Blumenthal’s e-mails.
I do think that’s a fair question. I think it’s an equally it fair question to ask why you were reading Mr. Blumenthal’s e-mails? I think both are fair. So, I want to go to June of 2012, which is an interesting time period to look at. It’s started. Charlene Lamb was an employee of the State Department and she sent an e-mail, which you may be familiar with, tab 56, I’m not going to read it, but it’s the tab 56, where she described Benghazi as a soft target, attacks on Americans not staffed adequately. It’s a very haunting e-mail to read.
It was actually three months to the day when our four fellow citizens were killed. And that is on June the 7th, 2012. Also on June the 7th 2012, your deputy chief of staff, Mr. Jake Sullivan is e- mailing Ambassador Stevens, asking the ambassador to look at a memo Sidney Blumenthal sent you. And in fact, Mr. Sullivan writes for Ambassador Chris, checking in with you on this report, “any reactions?”
All right, that is on exactly the same day that I believe our ambassador papers were accepted in Libya. It’s the day after an IED attack on our compound and Chris Stevens is being asked to read and react to an e-mail by Sidney Blumenthal from your deputy chief of staff.
Now, this is what he’s writing on the 7th, this is after he’s been turned down on a request for more security. This is our ambassador, “Appreciate you giving this proposal, even if the conclusion was not the favorable for us. We’d be interested in pursuing the other avenue you suggest, high threat trained agents. Best, Chris.”
So, I have this contrast in my mind. A ambassador newly in place. It’s a day after an attack on our facility. Your deputy chief of staff is sending him an e-mail from Sidney Blumenthal, asking him to take time to read and react to it. And then to the best of my recollection, that’s forwarded to you.
So help us understand how Sidney Blumenthal had that kind of access to you, Madame Secretary, but ambassador did not.
CLINTON: Mr. Chairman, because I think that your question does help to clarify matters.
Chris Stevens e-mailed regularly with Jake Sullivan one of my closest aides in the State Department. He could have e-mailed to Mr. Sullivan knowing that it would have been immediately responded to on any issue that was of concern to him, and he did not raise issues about security on that day or other days.
And I think it’s important to recognize that when an ambassador is at post overseas, especially as experienced a diplomat as Chris Stevens, he knows where to pull the levers, where to go for information, where to register concerns.
And I think he did exactly as one might have expected. He dealt with security issues through dealing with the security professionals who were the ones making the assessments. And I think that Ambassador Stevens understood completely that that is where the experts were, and that is where anything he requested or anything he was questioning should be directed.
GOWDY: Speaking of experts, who is Victoria Nuland?
CLINTON: A very experience diplomat. She served as our Ambassador to NATO, appointed by President George W. Bush. She served as one of the advisers as a Foreign Service Officer delegated to the White House for Vice President Cheney. She served as the spokesperson for the State Department during my tenure, and she is currently the Assistant Secretary for Europe under Secretary Kerry.
GOWDY: She wrote this to the Ambassador on June 13, 2012, that is a week after the facility was attacked. It is only a handful of days after he was turned down on a request — specific request for more security.
“Chris, I know you have your hands full, but we’d like your advice about public massaging on the state of violence in Libya over the past 10 days.”
So she’s asking him for help with public massaging. Jake Sullivan (ph), which is the other half of the question that I don’t think we got to. I — I understand that Chris Stevens was a rule follower. I understand that. I’ve got no qualms. My question was, actually, not why Chris Stevens didn’t contact you, but why did Jake Sullivan (ph) send Chris Stevens a Sidney Blumenthal e-mail to read and react to? On a day after the facility was attacked, the same day he was denied a request for more security. And instead of e-mail traffic back and forth about security, it’s read and react to a Blumenthal e-mail.
CLINTON: Well, I think any ambassador, if one were sitting before the committee, would say that they handled a lot of incoming information and requests.
Some of it was about what was happening in-country, some of about it was about what was happening back in the United States. And Chris felt strongly that the United States needed to remain in and committed to Libya.
So he was concerned that there might be a — a feeling on the part of some, either in the State Department or elsewhere in the Government, that we shouldn’t be in Libya. And he was adamantly in favor of us staying in Libya.
So part of what the discussion with him and — and Jake Sullivan (ph) and others was, you know, how do we best convey what the stakes the United States has in staying involved in Libya would be? And I thought that was, you know, very much in keeping with both his assessment and his experience.
GOWDY: Well, I appreciate your perspective, Madame Secretary.
Let me share with you my perspective. And if you need to take time to read a note, I’m happy to pause.
CLINTON: No, I’m just being reminded, which I think is important that remember, Chris spent the vast majority of his time in Tripoli, not in Benghazi. So a lot of what he was looking at is how you deal with not only those in authority positions in Libya, who were based in Tripoli at that time, but also representatives of other governments and the like.
And I think it is fair to say that anytime you’re trying to figure out what’s the best argument to make, especially if you’re someone like Chris Stevens trying to put together and make the best argument about why the United States should remain committed to Libya and others, as well, he’s going to engage in conversations about that.
GOWDY: Well, with respect, Madame Secretary, no matter what city he was in in Libya, having to stop and provide public massaging advice to your press shop, and having to read and respond to an e-mail sent by Sidney Blumenthal, it doesn’t matter what town you’re in. He needed security help.
He didn’t need help messaging the violence. He needed help actually with the violence. You…
CLINTON: No… GOWDY: … Have said several times this morning that you had people and processes in place. And I want to ask you about an e-mail that was sent to you by another one of your aids, Ms. Huma Abedin (ph). That would be Exhibit number 70 (ph) in your folder.
She e-mailed you that the Libyan people needed medicine, gasoline, diesel and milk. Do you know how long it took you to respond to that e-mail?
CLINTON: Well, I responded to it very quickly.
GOWDY: Yeah. 4 minutes.
My question, and I think it’s a fair one, is the Libyan people had their needs responded to directly by you in 4 minutes. And there is no record of our security folks ever even making it to your inbox.
So if you had people and processes in place for security, did you not also have people and processes in place for medicine, gasoline, diesel, milk?
CLINTON: You know, Mr. chairman, I’ve said it before, I will say it again, I’ll say it as many times as is necessary to respond.
Chris Stevens communicated regularly with the members of my staff. He did not raise security with the members of my staff. I communicated with him about certain issues. He did not raise security with me. He raised security with the security professionals.
Now, I know that’s not the answer you want to hear because it’s being asked in many different ways by committee members. But those are the facts, Mr. Chairman. Ambassadors in the field are engaged in many different tasks. They are basically our chief representative of the president of the United States, so they deal with everything from, you know, foreign aid to security to dealing with the personal requests for visas that come from people in the country they are assigned to.
And Chris Stevens had regular contact with members of my staff and he did not raise security issues. Now, some of it may have been because despite what was implied earlier, there was a good back and forth about security. And many of the requests that came from Embassy Tripoli, both for Tripoli and for Benghazi, were acted on affirmatively. Others were not.
That is what an ambassador, especially in a diplomat as experienced as Chris Stevens, would expect, that it would be unlikely to be able to get every one of your requests immediately answered positively.
So, yes, he had regular contact with my aides. He did not raise security with me. And the security questions and requests were handled by the security professionals.
GOWDY: Madam Secretary, with all due respect, those are two separate issues. Who Chris Stevens had access to is one issue. Who had access to you and for what is another issue, because you have said you had people and processes in place.
You also have people and processes in place for people who want to send you meaningless political advice. You also have people and processes in place for people who want to inquire about milk and diesel fuel and gasoline. You also have people and processes in place for people who want to provide insults towards folks you work with in the administration.
All of that made it directly into your in-box, Madam Secretary. That is my question. My question is: How did you decide when to invoke a people and process and who just got to come straight to you? Because it looked like certain things got straight to your in box, and the request for more security did not.
And while you’re answering that, I want to inform and instruct why I’m asking it. You have mentioned the ARB on a number of occasions again today. This was not the first ARB. We had one after Kenya and Tanzania. And that ARB could not have been more specific. The secretary of state should personally review the security situation of our embassy facilities.
That ARB put the responsibility squarely on you. So with respect to that previous ARB recommendation, and in contrast, what did make your in box versus what did not, did you personally review our security situation as the previous ARB required?
CLINTON: Well, let me see if I can answer the many parts of your — of your question, Mr. Chairman.
Yes, personal e-mail came to my personal account. Work-related e-mail did as well. And I also relied on a number of my aides and staff members, as well as experienced Foreign Service officers and civil servants who were similarly engaged in gathering information and sharing it.
And as I said and I will repeat, Chris Stevens communicated with a number of people that I worked with on a daily basis in the State Department. So far as I know, he did not raise any issue of security with any of those people. He raised it where he knew it would be properly addressed. If he had raised it with me, I would be here telling you he had. He did not.
And so I think it’s important to try to separate out the various elements of your question, Mr. Chairman, and I will do my best to continue to try to answer your questions. But I have said before and I will repeat again, Sid Blumenthal was not my adviser official or unofficial about Libya. He was not involved in any of the meetings, conversations, other efforts to obtain information in order to act on it.
On occasion, I did forward what he sent me to make sure that it was in the mix. So if it was useful, it could be put to use. And I believe in response to the e-mail you pointed our originally from Ambassador Stevens, he actually said it rang true and it was worth looking into.
So I think it’s important that we separate out the fact that Mr. Blumenthal was not my adviser. He was not an official of the United States government. He was not passing on official information. He, like a number of my friends who would hand me a newspaper article, would buttonhole me at a reception and say “what about this” or “what about that” — were trying to be helpful. Some of it was. A lot of it wasn’t.
GOWDY: The chair will not recognize the gentlelady from California, Ms. Sanchez. SANCHEZ: Thank you.
Secretary Clinton, I listened very carefully when Chairman Gowdy was questioning you in the first round of questioning. I have to say I was kind of surprised. We waited more than a year to finally get you up here to testify. We spent almost $5 million and we interviewed about 54 witnesses.
And when the chairman finally got his chance to question you, he asked you — he quibbled, actually — over the definition of the word “unsolicited.” As if that wasn’t bad enough, then he doubled-down on this idea that Sidney Blumenthal was your primary adviser on Libya, a claim that we heard The Washington Post awarded four Pinocchios.
He said on Sunday on national television that he had zero interest in the Clinton Foundation and other topics, but then he just spent his full time, the full questioning time in the first round asking you about the Clinton Foundation, media matters, and other topics that don’t really have anything to do with the attack that occurred in Benghazi. And my own sense of incredulity was really, really — is this why we’ve asked you to come to testify about that?
The overwhelming sense that I get from the Republican side of the aisle is they seem to be arguing somehow that Sidney Blumenthal had access to you, while Ambassador Stevens did not. Do you — do you think that that’s an accurate statement?
CLINTON: Of course not, Congresswoman. You know, you didn’t need my e-mail address to get my attention. In fact, most of the work I did, as I said this morning, had nothing to do with my e-mails. It had to do with the kind of meetings and materials that were provided to me through those who were responsible for making decisions on a whole range of issues.
And as I just told the chairman, if Ambassador Stevens had grave concerns that he wanted raised with me, he certainly knew how to do that.
SANCHEZ: He could speak to your office or your staff?
SANCHEZ: Or you directly on the telephone?
SANCHEZ: Did he ever ask you for your personal e-mail address and you turned him down (inaudible)?
CLINTON: No, he did not.
SANCHEZ: The other thing that I’m hearing from the other side of the aisle is they’re arguing that there was this, you know, security was, you know, it was sort of decomposing in eastern Libya. And that no security improvements were ever made to the Benghazi outpost. That’s not a true statement, is it? CLINTON: No, it is not.
SANCHEZ: In fact, there were many security enhancements that were asked for that were actually made, although there were others that were — other requests that were made that were not fulfilled. Is that correct?
CLINTON: That’s correct.
SANCHEZ: OK. The other line of questioning that sort of surprises me is that over the course of this investigation, Republicans have repeatedly asked why the U.S. was still in Benghazi on the night of the attacks. During the select committee’s first hearing, which was more than a year ago, the chairman posed the following question: “We know the risk of being in Benghazi. Can you tell us what our policy was in Libya that overcame those risks? In other words, why were we there?”
And the Accountability Review Board had already answered that question. It explained that Benghazi was the largest city and historical power center in eastern Libya. It further went on to say although the rebel-led Transitional National Council declared that Tripoli would continue to be the capital of post-Gadhafi Libya, many of the influential players in the TNC remained based in Benghazi.
And the ARB went on to explain that Ambassador Stevens advocated for a U.S. presence in Benghazi and his status as the leading U.S. government advocate on Libya policy and his expertise on Benghazi in particular caused Washington to give unusual deference to his judgments.
Secretary Clinton, do you agree? Was Ambassador Stevens a leading expert on Libya policy? And did you also give his opinions a lot of weight and respect?
CLINTON: Yes, I did, Congresswoman.
SANCHEZ: Do you recall Ambassador Stevens advocating from the ground up for continued U.S. presence specifically in Benghazi?
CLINTON: Yes, he did.
SANCHEZ: In fact, Ambassador Stevens’s e-mails, many of which this committee has had for more than a year, confirm what you’ve just stated.
Mr. Chairman, I would ask unanimous consent to enter this document into the record, and it’s being passed out to the members of the committee.
GOWDY: Without objection.
SANCHEZ: Secretary Clinton, I understand this e-mail is not one that you have seen before as it was not addressed or sent to you, is that correct?
CLINTON: That’s correct.
SANCHEZ: In the e-mail before you, then-Special Envoy Stevens wrote this proposal for continued presence in Benghazi at Embassy Tripoli — as Embassy Tripoli was reopened following the fall of Gadhafi. He suggested two potential models. Option A was a slimmed- down compound and Option B was a virtual presence with zero full-time State Department staff in Benghazi.
Special Envoy Stevens sent this e-mail to Gene Cretz, then the ambassador to Libya, his deputy chief of mission and the director of the Office of Mahgreb Affairs. At the time, these career diplomats had a combined 83 years of foreign service experience. Would the recommendation of this team be given a fair amount of weight within the Department?
CLINTON: Yes, it would.
SANCHEZ: And is that the way that it should work that the views of experienced diplomats should count in decision making?
CLINTON: They certainly did to me, and I think that should be the practice.
SANCHEZ: In the same e-mail, Special Envoy Stevens states, quote, “my personal recommendation would be Option A,” which was the option for a slimmed-down compound. He then notes a few of his key rationales for wanting to stay. In an earlier September 6th, 2011 e- mail advocating for a continued Benghazi presence, Special Envoy Stevens provided more reasons including the opportunity to, quote, “monitor political trends and public sentiment regarding the new Libya. The revolution began in eastern Libya and the view of these 2 million inhabitants will certainly influence events going forward.”
Secretary Clinton, do you agree with Ambassador Stevens’ view that there were important reasons to have a presence in Benghazi despite the risks?
CLINTON: Yes, I do.
SANCHEZ: Other documents show that Ambassador Stevens continued to advocate for a continued U.S. presence once he became ambassador to Libya. In fact, at the end of August, just two week before the attacks, he was working on a proposal for a permanent presence. As that proposal explained, quote, “a permanent branch office in Benghazi to provide a permanent platform to protect U.S. national security interests in the region and to promote a stronger healthier and more vibrant bilateral relationship with the new, free and democratic Libya.”
While Ambassador Stevens took seriously the significant security incidents in Benghazi that occurred in June, he never decided that the risk outweighed the benefit and he never recommended closing the post in Benghazi. He worked with his counterparts to try to manage that risk as best they could.
In its report, the Benghazi Accountability Review Board found, quote, “the total elimination of risk is a non starter for U.S. diplomacy given the need for the U.S. government to be present in places where stability and security are often most profoundly lacking and host government support is sometimes minimal to nonexistent.”
Secretary Clinton, this is such a difficult issue, the balancing of interests. From your perspective as a former senator and secretary of State, how do you best ensure that we are striking the right balance going forward?
CLINTON: Well, Congresswoman, thank you for that question because I do think that’s what we should be talking about, and several of you have posed similar questions.
I think you do start with the best expert and experienced advice that you can get from across our government. And as you rightly point out, Chris Stevens never recommended that we close Benghazi, he advocated for keeping Benghazi open. And as you rightly referred to this e-mail for a particular configuration that would fulfill the needs of our country being represented there.
Obviously, you have to constantly do this balancing act that I referred to earlier today, and most times we get it right. In fact, the vast majority of times, we get it right. With Benghazi, the CIA did not have any plans to close their facility. The opinion of those with the greatest understanding of our mission, our diplomatic mission in Benghazi was exactly the same, that we should not close down, we should not leave Benghazi. And it’s, you know, obviously something that you have to be constantly evaluating in all of these difficult unstable spots around the world.
But I appreciate your bringing to the committee’s attention the — you know, the strong opinion of the man who knew the most and was on the ground and who understood what we were trying to achieve in Benghazi, Ambassador Stevens.
SANCHEZ: And was it your understanding that he certainly understood the risk of being there?
CLINTON: He definitely understood the risks, yes.
SANCHEZ: Thank you. I yield back.
GOWDY: The gentlelady yields back. The chair will now recognize the gentlelady from Indiana, Ms. Brooks.
BROOKS: Secretary Clinton, I’d like to ask you a bit about your decision making and the discussions you had as it related to how long the Benghazi mission itself was going to last.
I’m putting up a map just because most of us really don’t know much about Libya, don’t know much about the geography of Libya. And as we’ve talked about these various communities, I don’t think most people really realized. So I want to share with you that — we know from my last round that Chris Stevens went into Benghazi in April of 2011, and I want to talk to you about what happened the rest of that year. And just because there was a lot going on, I thought it would be helpful to have this map.
So by mid-July, our government formally recognized the TNC as the official government of Libya, replacing the Gadhafi regime. And TNC was based in Benghazi at that time. And in August, after the Gadhafi government fell, Gadhafi went over into — he left Tripoli where Gadhafi been headquartered, and he went into hiding in Sirte.
Now once that happened, the TNC moved their Benghazi headquarters over to Tripoli, and then in September, we re-opened our embassy in Tripoli and Ambassador Cretz returned; he had been evacuated previously. And Chris Stevens stayed in Benghazi. Does that sound like an accurate summary of the summer of 2011?
CLINTON: It does sound accurate, except I’m not sure exactly the duration of Ambassador Stevens’ presence in Benghazi during those months.
BROOKS: Well, that leads to my next question. What was your plan for the mission in the fall of 2011 and going forward? What were the discussions you had and who did you have those discussions with about the mission of Benghazi going forward in 2011?
CLINTON: Well, as you may have heard, Congresswoman, the e-mail that Congresswoman Sanchez introduced into the record was from the fall of 2011. And there was quite a discussion going on between officials in the State Department, in the intelligence community, in both Washington and Libya about the path forward.
The Transitional National Council had been based in Benghazi, and there was a dispute even within the Libyans themselves as to whether they would split the government, whether the government would be located predominantly but not exclusively in Tripoli or as some were hoping predominantly but not exclusively in Benghazi. So this was all a very live subject that was being debated both in Libya and with respect to what our response would be in Washington.
So we, at Chris Stevens’ strong urging and that of other of our experienced diplomats, wanted to maintain a presence in Benghazi in some form. We re-opened our embassy in Tripoli which had been the historical capital certainly under Gadhafi. But this was a constant discussion about what we should do when and where, and I think that’s why this e-mail from Chris Stevens about his recommendations is so informative.
BROOKS: Well, thank you and I’ll get to that in just a moment. But I have to ask you, I assume that your chief of staff Cheryl Mills was intimately involved in these discussions with you and with your top staff. She’s one of your staff as you were referring to them, is that right?
CLINTON: Well, she covered a broad range of issues. I’m sure she was involved in some of the discussions, but she had many other responsibilities, so I can’t say all of them.
BROOKS: I’d like to refer to you an update on Tripoli operations provided to Cheryl Mills on September 14th. And at the top of that two-page memo, assumptions for Benghazi in September were gradual winding down of operations over the next six months, transition to Tripoli only — transition to Tripoli only by January 2012, no consulate. No consulate meant no consulate in Benghazi. This was in September.
Would that be fair and accurate? And would you — were you in that briefing with Ms. Mills, or did she brief you about the fact that in September the gameplan was to shut down Benghazi?
CLINTON: Well, I think you have to look at that in context, Congresswoman. There was not an active plan for a consulate in Benghazi at any point during this period. That is not what the compound in Benghazi was. It was a temporary facility placed there to help us make a determination as to what we would need going forward in Benghazi…
BROOKS: Excuse me, madam secretary.
CLINTON: There was a strong argument that Chris Stevens and others made that they hoped eventually there might be a consulate, but there was never an agreement to have a consulate.
BROOKS: And, in fact, it had been deemed a consulate, it would have had a different level of security, is that correct, than a temporary mission compound, is that accurate?
CLINTON: Well, we have…
BROOKS: Is that accurate, that consulates have certain levels of security. There are standards, there are protocols. When it is a consulate, it gets a certain level of security.
CLINTON: That is the hoped-for outcome. That is not what happens in the beginning in many places, especially the hot spots and the conflict areas where a consulate is stood up.
BROOKS: Can you talk with me about the decision, then — there is a briefing with respect to — after the closing, rather, of the consulate in Benghazi by January of 2012. We know it didn’t close. It did not close. You went to Tripoli in October of 2011. Ambassador Cretz was still there. How about Chris Stevens? Did Chris Stevens come over from Benghazi to see you when you went for the big trip in October ’11?
CLINTON: I don’t recall. I don’t recall if he did or not. This was — this — this was about Ambassador Cretz, and Ambassador Cretz was the person that we were meeting with at that time.
BROOKS: What was your purpose for meeting with Ambassador Cretz if Chris Stevens was your expert in Libya?
CLINTON: Ambassador Cretz was an expert as well. Ambassador Cretz was our ambassador. You remember, as I mentioned to you before, he had been our ambassador, and then because he reported very accurately about what he observed regarding Gadhafi and Gadhafi’s henchmen, when Wikileaks disclosed internal U.S. government cables and Gene Cretz’s cables were publicized talking very critically about Gadhafi he was then subjected to threats and then we took him out. We did not close the embassy at that time.
So, he had returned to finish out his time and we were in the process of moving him to another assignment and nominating Chris Stevens to replace him.
BROOKS: But you didn’t, during that one trip to Libya, you didn’t talk to Chris Stevens, best of your recollection at that time?
CLINTON: While I was in Libya, I don’t recall that. Of course we consulted with him in respect to planning the trip, as to who we would meet with, what we would ask for.
We were trying very hard to get people in positions of authority at that time in Libya to let us work with them on everything from border security to collecting weapons and trying to disarm the militias. We had a lot of business we were doing with them.
BROOKS: So going back to Miss Sanchez’s e-mail with respect from John Stevens to Miss Polysheck (ph), it talks about Option A, as you’ve pointed out, slimming down the compound, and so he weighed in on — in October he was weighing in on whether or not the compound should stay open.
But I’d like to direct your attention to an e-mail that’s at tab four, dated December 15th from Chris Stevens.
And I might add for the record, we do not, still to this day, have all of Chris Stevens e-mails. We received 1,300 more this week. We received most of them last week. We don’t have the universe yet of Ambassador Stevens e-mails.
But he e-mailed to a reporting officer who we know was in Benghazi still. He wrote, “Interesting. Has security improved in Benghazi in recent weeks? Also curious what you guys decided to do regarding future of the compound. He was in Washington, D.C., or back in the States during that time, and in December Ambassador Stevens, your soon-to-be ambassador, didn’t know what was going to happen with the compound in Benghazi, how is that possible?
CLINTON: Well, Congresswoman, one of the great attributes that Chris Stevens had was a really good sense of humor. And I just see him smiling as he’s typing this. Because it is clearly in response to the e-mail down below talking about picking up a few, quote, “fire- sale items” from the Brits…
BROOKS: Sure. Those — those fire side items, by the way, fire sale items are barricades.
CLINTON: That’s right.
BROOKS: They are additional…
CLINTON: That’s right.
BROOKS: … Requests for security…
CLINTON: That’s right.
BROOKS: … For the compound. That’s what that fire sale was, because we weren’t providing enough physical security for the compound, isn’t that right?
So they’re picking up a fire sale because other consulates are pulling out, other countries are pulling out.
CLINTON: Well, I thought it showed their entrepreneurial spirit, Congresswoman…
CLINTON: … And I applaud — I applaud them for doing so.
We did respond to a number of the security requests, the physical security requests. The posters that were up earlier this morning were only about the number of Diplomatic Security personnel (ph).
You’re talking about physical — physical barriers, physical additions to the compound. There were quite a few of those that were undertaken.
BROOKS: But how is it that Mr. Stevens did not know in December whether or not the compound was going to remain open?
BROOKS: Or do you — or do you think that was a joke he was making?
CLINTON: Well, I think that if it — if it were not an example of his sense of humor, it was also as part of the ongoing discussion about Mission Benghazi’s future, which he went to great lengths to describe what he thought should be done.
You know, a lot of it was trying to decide, could we afford it? Could we maintain it? What did we need to have there?
So, yes, there was an ongoing discussion. And I think he knew he was going to be in line to go to Tripoli, and he wanted to know exactly what the decision was going to be about the compound.
He had weighed in, not only in that e-mail, but in numerous discussions with his colleagues back at the State Department.
BROOKS: And finally, Secretary Clinton, we know that the compound, the Benghazi Mission, was extended for yet another year. Because that same month your Benghazi point person here in Washington, Jeff Feldman (ph), sent a memo wanting to extend Benghazi through 2012, and he sent it to Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy (ph) who approved it.
Another high-level official who, by the way, for the record, State Department has given us none of Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy’s (ph) e-mails yet — same with Jeffrey Feldman (ph). Very high-level officials within the State Department.
Are you familiar with that memo sent on December 27th entitled Future of Operations in Benghazi, Libya (ph). Are you familiar with that memo? And if so, did Assistant Secretary Feldman (ph) discuss that memo with you at the time, and discuss extending the mission in Benghazi in December of ’11?
CLINTON: I’m familiar that there was an ongoing discussion about the future of the mission in Benghazi…
BROOKS: A discussion between whom — whom, ma’am? Who were all of the relevant officials in the State Department?
Help me with understanding…
CLINTON: Well, Jeff Feldman (ph) was one of them.
BROOKS: Ok. Who else?
CLINTON: Obviously, Chris Stevens was one of them. But there were many others who had information and expertise to add to it. And there was a recommendation that Benghazi be continued through 2012 as part of the continuing evaluation of whether or what we wanted to have on a more permanent basis in Benghazi.
BROOKS: And do you recall, were you in those discussions? Were you specifically in those meetings?
You’ve shared that you didn’t move a lot by e-mail, that you had more meetings than briefings. Were you in those meetings about extending Benghazi through the end of the year?
CLINTON: There were certainly meetings in which I was advised about the process being undertaken as to determine whether Benghazi should be extended.
So, yes, I was aware of the process that was ongoing, and I was kept up to date about it.
BROOKS: And were there any minutes or any briefings…
GOWDY: General — the — the General Lady’s time has expired.
CUMMINGS(?): Way over.
GOWDY: The Chair will now recognize a gentleman (ph) from Washington, Mr. Smith.
SMITH: I just want to clarify a couple of points.
First of all, Ambassador Stevens had access to you.
CLINTON: Yes, he did.
SMITH: In fact, we were — we were here — former — I forget, I don’t have the name in front of me, but ambassador in Russia said that, you know, he — always had access to you, always had constant communication with you, never had your e-mail address.
CLINTON: That’s right.
SMITH: I would hope that ambassadors would have more direct and immediate lines of communication, and Ambassador Stevens certainly did.
SMITH: And also, did Ambassador Stevens ever advocate either leaving Libya or abandoning Benghazi?
CLINTON: To the contrary, Congressman, he was a very strong advocate for staying in Libya, including in Benghazi.
SMITH: And I think, you know, what — what we’ve learned here is, well, nothing, frankly, that we didn’t know already.
The security situation in Libya was dangerous…
SMITH: … Without question. Would you say that Ambassador Stevens was unaware of any aspect of that?
CLINTON: No, I would not. I think he was very aware.
SMITH: So he knew the security situation in Libya quite well.
CLINTON: That’s right.
SMITH: And yet — and again, I want to be clear on this. In his communications with you, and he had many, even if he didn’t have your e-mail address, did he ever say, you know, did he raise the security issue directly with you?
CLINTON: No, he did not.
SMITH: And, you know, being questioned, I mean, obviously, he chose to go to Benghazi. He, as you have described earlier, as gosh, all across the world today, diplomats are weighing the risks and the benefits in a lot of dangerous places. And he — he had to do that. And he chose to go to Benghazi.
CLINTON: He did. And Congressman, ambassadors in the countries they are representing the United States in, do not as a practice ask permission from the State Department to travel in the country where they are stationed.
SMITH: And as well, they should not. They need to be in charge of their country.
I’d also point out, you know, on the question of e-mails, and which ones you’ve received and haven’t received, you know, unfortunately, the State Department, which has been spending an enormous of time producing documents for this committee, cannot produce thousands of e-mails at the drop of a hat. And the committee chose to prioritize your e-mails, but also Ms. Abedin’s e-mails, Cheryl Mills’s e-mails, basically Sidney Blumenthal’s e-mails to you — they chose to prioritize those e-mails over the others. So the State Department is trying to get this information, but it is a question of the priorities of the committee.
Which brings me to the last point I’ll make, and I won’t take the full 10 minutes here, you know. There are a lot of accusations that have been made back and forth about things that have been said that were or were not true. I think the one thing that was said in this hearing that is clearly the farthest from the truth is that this is not a prosecution.
If you listen to the other side, this is unquestionably exactly that — a prosecution. I mean, I’d ask viewers to just go back and listen to Chairman Gowdy’s questioning of you before the first break and tell me that that’s not a prosecution.
And I think, again, I don’t know if shame, embarrassment, whatever word you wish to choose, it shouldn’t be a prosecution. You know, we have the, you know, former secretary of state here. We should be genuinely trying to inquire about how we can gather more information.
Now, the only interesting facts that seem to be brought up always reference back to the ARB, which just points up the fact that the information that we need — and again, I really want to emphasize this was a serious, serious matter for the United States. A loss of four Americans is something we need to take incredibly seriously and investigate and we did.
And the information that we found out, as you pointed out, was not always flattering. There’s no question that mistakes were made and we hopefully learn from them. But that was investigated. So what is the purpose of this committee?
And, you know, when you look at the e-mails they request; when you look at the questioning, the purpose of this committee is to prosecute you. And there will be time enough for that in the next year, you know, and people will do it. We don’t need to spend $4.7 million in 17 months to simply prosecute you (inaudible).
Look, the security situation was well known in Libya. The security situation in Pakistan is well known. I visited the embassy in Yemen in 2009 about a month after someone had shot a rocket- propelled (inaudible) through the front door. The security situation there is incredibly serious, as well as it is in a whole lot of other places. And those are difficult decisions.
But the effort here today seems to be that somehow you personally decided not to do your job in Libya. OK? You were the — apparently the advocate of the policy in Libya, apparently passionate about it, but not passionate enough to care about the security situation in Libya.
And, you know, Chris Stevens was incredibly passionate about Libya; wanted to make that country work. Now, it has proven very, very difficult. Do we want to go back to Moammar Gadhafi in charge? I don’t think so. And just — sorry to make a policy point, as long as I have a few minutes. You know, it’s interesting to juxtapose Libya with Syria because, you know, just as many of my Republican colleagues are ripping apart the Obama administration and all those involved for choosing to remove Gadhafi, they are ripping apart the Obama administration, all the current officials, for choosing not to get involved in Syria.
What that points up, frankly, is the difficulty of the job that you had. And I thank you for taking it. I’m not sure I would be so bold. It is a very, very dangerous world, bad things are going to happen. And what we are witnessing today is if bad things happen, you know, you will be dragged out over months and months and months in this partisan atmosphere.
And that is very, very unfortunate. This needed to be investigated. I mean, you know, 9/11, we didn’t investigate 9/11, you know, 9/11 2001, just to specify, with the length and depth that we have chose to investigate this.
So again, I come back to the central point, to the central problem with this committee. It is a prosecution. It is a partisan exercise. It is not trying to investigate and find out the truth. And again, we are now — a little quick math here — five hours into it; count the break, maybe four hours into it. We have learned nothing substantively new about what happened in Benghazi. Very serious things happened. They were investigated. They were reported. Mistakes were made. They were reported. But this committee in all that time and effort has unearthed nothing. Instead, they want to prosecute you and rip apart your every word, your every e-mail; two staffers five levels down from you who said something bad about you.
I mean, my goodness, I hope I don’t ever have to undergo that kind of scrutiny. I would not survive it. And I don’t think many would.
So, you know, I — I hope in the hours that we have left to do this that we will try to circle back to learning something new, to figuring out how we can best strike that balance that you described, of being present in the world, but also trying to keep our people safe. Throughout the history of the country, I — my aunt was actually a Foreign Service officer way back when. And, you know, you know, we have lost many diplomats, and she tells me about it all the time.
And, you know, it’s a difficult balance. If we can get back to that, if we can learn something new about what happened in Benghazi, I think that — that might be helpful. But right now, this committee is not doing a service to the four people who died or their families, or to preventing any of these future incidents from happening.
So, I thank you for your testimony. I thank you for your leadership and your willingness to do a very, very difficult job.
And with that, I yield the remainder of my time to the ranking member, Mr. Cummings.
CUMMINGS: Madam Secretary, a few million hours ago, we were talking about the diplomatic security folks on the night of the incident. And you looked like — it appeared that you wanted to say a little bit more about that and what they, speaking of that — the incident. Would you like to elaborate?
CLINTON: Thank you, Congressman. You know, I don’t want anything that is said to me or about me to take away from the heroic efforts that the diplomatic security officers exhibited. The five men who were with Chris and Sean Smith risked their lives repeatedly and were themselves under grave threat.
I wanted to point out that even when we try to get it right, which we do try, sometimes there are unintended consequences and there is an example out of this tragedy. Coming out of previous assessments of attacks on facilities, we now have safe havens, safe rooms in facilities, particularly residences. The diplomatic security officers were able to get both Chris and Sean into that safe room.
Of course, the idea behind the safe room, why security experts advocated for them, was to protect our — our civilians, our diplomats from attacks like the one that was occurring. The attackers used diesel fuel to set the compound on fire. And the safe room was anything but safe. I’m sure the committee members know that neither Chris Stevens nor Sean Smith died from injuries directly inflicted by the attackers. They both died of smoke inhalation.
And one of the recommendations in this ARB report is that when we have safe havens, we need to have equipment that will enable people that are safe within them to withstand what happened in Benghazi. The lead diplomatic security officer who was with both the ambassador and Sean Smith endeavored to lead them to safety through a wall of black smoke.
He wanted to get them out of the compound interior up to the roof, where they could be out of the fire, and also out of the attackers’ assault.
He, himself, nearly died of smoke inhalation. When he looked around to make sure that both Sean and Chris were with him, he couldn’t find them. Rather than proceeding and saving himself, which would be a natural human instinct, he turned back into that black diesel smoke desperately trying to find Chris and Sean.
He did find Sean, and Sean had succumbed to smoke inhalation, and the Diplomatic Security Officer managed to take Sean out of the building. He could not find Chris Stevens.
One of the horrors of the — hours after the attack — was our failure to be able to find where the Ambassador was.
We hoped against hope that he had somehow gotten himself out of the compound and that was — he was alive somewhere, maybe in the back. And additional efforts by the Diplomatic Security officers, and then eventually by the CIA reinforcements that arrived to find his body, or to find him, hopefully, were unsuccessful. And they had to withdraw because of the continuing attack back to the CIA Annex before we knew what had happened to the Ambassador.
We were desperate, and we were trying to call everybody we knew in Benghazi, in Libya — get additional help.
What appears to have happened at some point later, is that Libyans found Ambassador Stevens, and they carried him to the hospital in Benghazi. And Libyan doctors labored nearly two hours to try to resuscitate him.
And I — I mention all of this because I want, not just the Committee members (ph), but any viewers in the public to understand that this was the fog of war. That the Diplomatic Security officers, and then later the CIA officers responded with heroism, professionalism as they had been trained to do.
We thought things would be safe once they took refuge in the CIA Annex, and, as we know, even though that was a highly fortified, much more secure facility than our Diplomatic Compound, and one that we had nothing to do with in the State Department, it turned out also to be a target for the militants, which is where the two CIA contractors, Mr. Woods and Mr. Doherty, died.
But in looking at all of the information, the Accountability Review Board and, particularly, Admiral Mullen — who was focused on what happened, what the security personnel did that night — came out agreeing that they were heroic and they did all they could do to try to save their colleagues’ lives.
GOWDY: The gentleman yields back.
Madam Secretary, I appreciate you going through their heroism. I really do.
It is — it is moving to hear from — and — and, frankly, it infuriates me to hear folks to my left, who don’t raise a single whisper about spending $50 million to train five ISIS fighters. But, god forbid, we spend one-tenth of that to give some answers to the family members sitting on the — on the first row.
So, I appreciate you discussing their heroism while some of my colleagues discuss money.
With that, Mr. Pompeo.
POMPEO: I — I — I’d actually add for that (ph). I think, you know, Mr. Smith gave a soliloquy. I think it was elegant, but, more importantly, I think it was representative of the behavior of the Democrats on this panel since May of 2014.
Not one finger, not one question for a witness.
They say they want to get at the truth, but the truth of the matter is, they spent most of their time today — anybody can rewind the tape and find this — they spent most of their time today attacking members of this committee and this process, and, I regret that. I think that’s a violation of their duty to the country and, most importantly, their duty to the families.
I want to go back to a couple things I talked to you about a bit before, Madam Secretary.
So — Ambassador Stevens didn’t have your e-mail. Is that correct? Your personal e-mail?
CLINTON: I’m sorry, what did you ask me?
POMPEO: Ambassador Stevens did not have your personal e-mail address, we’ve established that.
CLINTON: Yes, that’s right.
POMPEO: Did he have your cell phone number?
CLINTON: No, but he had the 24-hour number of the State Operations in the State Department that can reach me 24/7.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. Did he have the fax number?
CLINTON: He had the fax number of the State Department.
POMPEO: Did he have you home address? CLINTON: No, I don’t think any ambassador has ever asked me for that.
POMPEO: Did he ever stop by your house?
CLINTON: No, he did not, Congressman.
POMPEO: Mr. Blumenthal had each of those and did each of those things. This man upon who provided you so much information on Libya had access to you in ways that were very different than the access that a very Senior Diplomat had to your — to you and your person.
I’d — I’d ask — I had a picture up here a bit ago of a man named Wissam Bin Hamid (ph).
You said you didn’t recognize who he was.
Were you ever briefed that he was present at the compound the night that Ambassador Stevens was killed?
CLINTON: We’re trying to track down the basis of your question, Congressman. We have no information at this time.
POMPEO: My question is a yes-or-no question, it’s pretty simple.
CLINTON: I don’t — I don’t have any information that I can provide to you, yes or no, because I know nothing about this question.
POMPEO: So — so — the question is were you briefed? And the answer is?
CLINTON: We don’t know anything about it, so how could I have been briefed about something we know nothing about?
POMPEO: Great, thank you. Are all ARBs created equal?
CLINTON: Well, there have been 19, including the one that we impaneled after Benghazi. They’ve all been led by distinguished Americans. They’ve all been set up in accordance with the — the laws and rules that the Congress established when they created the legislation to establish ARBs.
So, I assume, in those respects, they are created equal.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. You know, I’m asking — I asked a simple — a pretty simple yes-or-no question, I guess. And I’m happy to let you expand, and I’m happy to bring breakfast in, but when I ask a yes-or- no question it’s — it’d sure be helpful if we could get to the answer. This is a pretty — it wasn’t a trick question at all.
Are the recommendations of each ARB worthy of equal treatment?
CLINTON: Well, they are certainly worthy of follow-up by the Department, and I believe that they have been.
POMPEO: There was an ARB — please, if you would put up the poster, please. There was an ARB in 1998. You — you said this before in your testimony.
200 folks were killed. Here’s what its recommendation said, it said “Special Mission Security Posture that was inadequate for Benghazi, and was…” Excuse me, this is from the most recent one. I want to know if you agree with this. “… Special Mission Security Posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.”
Do you agree with the statement from the current ARB?
CLINTON: I accepted the recommendations of the current ARB.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, my question is if you agree with it?
CLINTON: I don’t think that’s a relevant question, Congressman. I think the question is, I accepted their recommendations, and obviously their recommendations were based on their very thorough investigation and analysis. So, clearly I endorsed the entire board’s work.
POMPEO: In January 2014, Senator Feinstein — noted conservative — said in her report, “The incidents at the TMF and CIA were likely preventable.” Do you agree with that statement from Senator Feinstein’s report?
CLINTON: Well, I would like to think that anything of that magnitude and the loss of life could have, in some way, been preventable.
I think that what the ARB recommended were steps to try to enhance our ability to prevent future attacks.
POMPEO: Let’s go back — I want to go back. Now I have the right poster up. I apologize for that.
In 1998 here’s what the ARB said. It said, “The Secretary of State should personally review the security situation of Embassy Chanceries (ph) and other official premises, closing those which are highly vulnerable and threatened.”
You’ve told us all day today that you don’t think you should have been involved, quoting again from the ARB, personally reviewing security. How do you square that?
CLINTON: Well, there are a couple of important points to make about this, Congressman.
First, I made a number of decisions to close Embassy Chanceries (ph) and other official premises based on security.
I closed the Embassy in Tripoli. I had to evacuate all of the Americans out of Libya. We had to, you know, lease ferries that came from Malta. We closed embassies and other facilities when we had a strong consensus recommendation that it was necessary to do. So, that is — that is a statement of secretarial responsibility. Now, with respect to looking at every security request, how high should the wall be, whether there should be barricades placed on the east or the west side, that is handled by the security professionals.
So, clearly, I closed embassies. I recommended that embassies and other facilities be closed. So I understand what that point is.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, this is a yes-or-no question, do you think you complied with what the ARB in 1998 said, and personally reviewed the security at Benghazi?
CLINTON: Well, that’s — that is not what — my understanding of the 1998 ARB.
POMPEO: It’s just words, Madam Secretary, they’re right there.
CLINTON: And I just answered. I personally reviewed security situations of chanceries and other official facilities that were recommended because they were highly vulnerable and threatened to be closed. And we closed some. Some we were able to reopen, which is kind of part of the process.
With respect to the 1998 ARB recommendations, by the time I became secretary, having succeeded two secretaries who served during very dangerous and threatening times, there was an assessment made — that I certainly was briefed into — that we had to look at how best to professionalize the security and the expert advice that we were receiving.
That was exactly what I did, and I went further than that. I created a new position, a deputy secretary for resources and management. I also had recommended after our ARB the deputy assistant secretary for high threats.
So, this was a constant discussion about how to make us secure. But not whether or not the secretary of state should decide on the height of the barricades. I think that’s where we may not be fully understanding one another, Congressman.
POMPEO: I think we under…
CLINTON: Of course…
POMPEO: …I think we understand each other perfectly.
CLINTON: …specific questions about closing embassy chanceries and other official premises that were vulnerable and threatened, of course, they came to me. I had to make the decision.
Deciding whether the wall would be 10 feet, 12 feet, whether there would be three security agents or five, that was the province, as it should have been, of the professionals.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, Here’s another one from the 1998 ARB. Quote, “first and foremost, the secretary should take a personal and active role in carrying out the responsibility — ensuring the security of the U.S. diplomatic personnel abroad.”
Do you believe you complied with that requirement from the 1998 ARB?
CLINTON: Yes, I do. I believe that I had established a — a process, and I — you know, I said earlier today, State Department and our security professionals have to be 100 percent right.
And I think that, you know, what happened in Benghazi was a tragedy and something that, you know, we all want to prevent from ever happening again. But there were many, many situations, many security issues that we had to deal with during the four years that I was secretary of state.
And I did leave what I hope will be a very important additional position, namely the deputy for high-threat posts, that now will focus solely on what are considered the highest-threat places in the — in the world for our personnel.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, I hope you can understand the difference between creating a deputy under assistant secretary and America’s senior diplomat getting involved in personal security.
The amount of resources can be moved, the speed at — with which they will move, rested only in your hands.
CLINTON: Well, I just respectfully disagree…
POMPEO: I’ve led organizations myself.
CLINTON: …with that, Congressman. It’s been my experience that you want to find people who are dedicated 100 percent to security.
You don’t want a secretary or anyone dipping in and out, maybe making decisions based on factors other than what the professionals decide. At least that is my very strong opinion.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am, leaders lead.
I want to — I’ve just got a few seconds. In all of the materials that have been produced to us today, I have not yet found the document that was prepared at your request for post-Gadhafi planning. Did you have such a document prepared prior to the time that Mr. Gadhafi was removed?
CLINTON: We had a number of documents. We had a — a long list of areas that we were working on and the process for following up on those areas.
I don’t know if it was one document or a dozen documents, but we had a lot of work that was ongoing, both at the state department and at USAID.
POMPEO: And did you ask for those documents to be prepared? Do you know if you had a team working on that, or if it was something that was happening of its own accord?
CLINTON: We — we had a number of people who were working on that. There were — as I said, I sent both of my deputies out to Libya to meet with the Libyans.
You know, we can do all the planning we want in Washington, but it’s very important to ask the Libyans both what they want and what they expect from us. And so we had an ongoing dialogue that lasted over many months.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am, I agree with that. We’ll get a chance to talk about that in a bit. I yield back.
GOWDY: Gentleman yields back. The chair will now recognize the gentlelady from Illinois, Miss Duckworth.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Secretary Clinton, I’m — apologize. My line of questioning will probably be a little bit boring because I’m going to get in — into some details that actually have to deal with security and how we can better safeguard America’s diplomats now and onwards.
From, you know — I have to say that the ARB conducted by Admiral Mullen, a man of great military pedigree and — and — and long service to this nation — quite honorable, brave service — as well as Ambassador Pickering, I thought, was well conducted and well thought out.
And, in fact, don’t just take my word for it. I’m a pretty low- ranking member of the House, but — but McKeon, the Republican chairman — longtime Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, also, you know — and never once in our committee hearing did I hear him malign the work that was done in that ARB as we on our committee also looked into what happened.
So I want to look at some of the findings from — from that ARB. And — and I want specifically to examine the failures of the Blue Mountain Libya security guards and the February 13 (sic) militia on that exact day, September 11, 2012.
My understanding is, in Benghazi, neither the host country’s militia forces nor the state department’s private local guards were capable of defending our personnel. These poorly trained forces either did not show up, they retreated in the face of danger or simply lacked the necessary tools to fight back effectively.
I want to learn the lessons of Benghazi and hold everyone accountable, not just the State Department, but every agency involved, as well as Congress, ourselves, and this committee itself. For implementing significant comprehensive reforms that will prevent future tragedies.
So, you know, looking at the work that I’ve done on Armed Services Committee and on oversight government reform, I’ve been consistently concerned with the cost and consequences of federal contract mismanagement. Costs the American taxpayers a lot of dollars.
So I want to look at the State Department’s policy of awarding local guard contracts using an — a very inflexible contract vehicle known as the Lowest Priced Technically Acceptable, or LPTA, vehicle.
I think that should have red — raised red flags here in Congress. When life and limb are at risk, such as when buying body armor for our troops overseas or barriers for our embassies, I don’t know that Lowest Priced Technically Acceptable is the right vehicle.
So, can you discuss a little bit, why is it that the State Department appears to have awarded local guard contracts in Libya using this contracting method?
CLINTON: Congresswoman, I think that’s another very important question. I — I think the State Department, like much of the rest of the government, often feels under pressure to go to the lowest price, whether or not that lowest price is the best contract.
And we had a lot of challenges, not just in Libya, but in many places around the world, trying to work to find the right contractors to provide static security for a lot of our posts and facilities, to find more kinetic contractors who could be the front line of defense, since we — as we discussed earlier, we’re stationed in so many places where there were not American military that could be called and quickly respond.
So I would like very much, and perhaps there could be a working group with Armed Services and Foreign Affairs and others to look to see whether we couldn’t get a little more flexibility into this decision making.
Because the — the February 17th militia was viewed by the CIA, which had vetted it, as well as by our diplomats, as a reliable source for kinetic support. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. And the static support proved to be not very useful at all on that night.
So I think you’re — you’re really raising an important issue about how to get more flexibility into the contracting, because we’re not gonna be able to bring American military forces to every place where we are in a high-threat post, either because the military can’t afford to do that for us, or because the host country won’t invite us in.
And the other problem, as you pointed out, is that if the host country doesn’t have any real resources, it’s hard to know how much they can produce. That night, I was calling the president of Libya and demanding that he find any friendly militia, any friendly anybody, to show up and to support us.
When our reinforcements, the security reinforcements from Tripoli landed, a militia showed up and in fact kept them there until they had a big enough group to accompany them to the CIA annex. So it’s a very unpredictable and even erratic process. And it starts with in many instances the lowest price. And I don’t think that’s always the best way to get a contract for security.
DUCKWORTH: I happen to agree with you. And I think, actually, the LPTA that I’m talking about, that actually sets very inflexible standards for specifically the Department of State. It’s actually a law passed by Congress in 1990. So when you talk about maybe some sort of a working group, Congress needs to do our part and maybe amend a 35-year-old law that actually forced the State Department to go with the lowest price.
Secretary Clinton, can you address what actions Congress can fix problems that have to do with host country-instituted stringent policies, given the use of private security guards? My understanding is that the country of Libya, the host nation in this case, did not allow your security contractors to carry firearms; that the Blue Mountain Guards — I think the Blue Mountain Guards were not allowed to carry firearms. Is that right?
CLINTON: Yes, the Blue Mountain was not. Certainly, our diplomatic security officers were. The militia members who were supposed to be providing kinetic help for us were. So it was only the static guards that were not.
Now, I will say that, you know, some of those guards did stand their ground. They were basically run over. Several of them were injured the night of the attack. So I don’t want to cast aspersions on all of them and the service they provided. But it was not adequate for what we needed then or really at any time.
DUCKWORTH: Are we facing that same type of restrictions in other nations as well, in other hot spots? We talked earlier about the 19 missions that are out there, with this type of issues with the LPTA and contracting, and as well as the host nation requirement?
CLINTON: Yes, we do. You know, the host nation gets to call a lot of the shots. Under the Vienna Convention, the host nation is responsible for providing security for diplomatic posts. But when a host nation is either unwilling to do so, as we do have in some places where we are present, or unable to do so — because I do think with the Libyans, there was a desire to be helpful, but not a capacity to produce what we needed.
We have to really work hard to get the kind of support that is required. And, you know, in some cases we’ve been able to work out arrangements with the host country. Some we have just defied them and tried to be very quiet about what we were doing. In others, you know, we are prohibited. So it’s a constant — again, it goes back to that balancing of risk and reward that we’re always doing.
DUCKWORTH: Going back to the ARB conducted by Admiral Mullen and Ambassador Pickering, how many of their recommendations did you as secretary of state accept?
CLINTON: I accepted all of them. They made 29 recommendations, Congresswoman. I accepted all 29 of them and began to implement them before I left the State Department. And I note that Secretary Kerry has continued that work. DUCKWORTH: Do you recommend for future secretaries and for this committee and other members of Congress some sort of a formal review process as we go onwards? I don’t want there to be a review process that is triggered by death of Americans. This goes back to my earlier question about institutionalization of this process so that we make sure that our men and women in embassies right now are safe and that they’re safe tomorrow and a year from now and 10 years from now.
What — what needs to be done so that we can make sure that our four heroic dead did not lay down their lives in vain?
CLINTON: Well, Congresswoman, before the attacks in Benghazi, the Congress never fully funded the security requests that the administration sent to Congress. Following Benghazi, that has improved, but there are still areas where I think greater — greater funding and responsiveness would be helpful.
It was unfortunate that we didn’t get all the resources that might have enabled us to do more in all the high-threat posts before Benghazi, but I appreciate what the Congress has done since. The one specific recommendation that I would like to see the Congress act on expeditiously is the training facility that would be set up in order to train diplomatic security officers specifically for these high- threat situations.
And I think this is overdue. I know that on a bipartisan basis, representatives from Virginia, which is the state where the site that has been identified is found, have urged in a recent op-ed that the Congress act on this. I would certainly echo that as well.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you.
GOWDY: I thank the gentlelady.
Madam Secretary, they’ve called votes, but we’re going to try to get in Mr. Roskam, and I’m going to recognize Ms. Brooks for 10 seconds before Mr. Roskam.
BROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And just to clarify for the record, I made a statement previously that we had received none of Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy’s e- mails. We have received some through production of other individuals’ e-mails. We have not received a full production of Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy’s e-mails.
So I just wanted to clarify we do have some, but it is through other e-mail production.
Thank you. Yield back.
GOWDY: Yes, ma’am.
The gentleman from Illinois. ROSKAM: Thanks.
Secretary Clinton, can I just direct your attention to the screen. You’re familiar with that clip — we came, we saw, he died. Is that the Clinton doctrine?
CLINTON: No, that was an expression of relief that the military mission undertaken by NATO and our other partners had achieved its end. And therefore, no more American, European or Arab lives would be at stake in trying to prevent Gadhafi from wreaking havoc on Libyans or causing more problems to the region and beyond.
ROSKAM: I want to direct your attention, and maybe direct the group’s attention right now to something that — that hasn’t really been discussed. There’s been this explicit criticism of Republicans being partisans today. But I want to direct your attention to what is actually going on with you and your team, many of whom are here today with you.
So Jake Sullivan, one of your close advisers that you just told us about, put together the tick-tock on Libya memo, and that was a memo that was all about you. It put together 22 different accomplishments and you were the central figure in all 22 of those accomplishments.
And I’ve got to tell you, it’s really well put together. He uses language of action and initiative and leadership. Let me just give you a couple of these: HRC, that’s you, obviously, announces, directs, appoints special envoy, travels to G-8, secures Russian abstention, secures transition of command and control, travel to Berlin, Rome, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul.
He’s basically laying the foundation that the Libya policy is your policy. Essentially, he’s making the argument that it’s your baby. And you are clearly familiar with this timeline because in e- mail exchanges with your senior staff, you were not happy about it. And the part that you weren’t happy about wasn’t that you were the focal point, it’s that it didn’t include enough.
So you said, this is your e-mail, “What bothers me is that the policy office prepared the timeline, but it doesn’t include much of what I did.” Another time, you said, “The timeline is totally inadequate, which bothers me about our recordkeeping,” and I’ll come back to that in a minute, Madam Secretary. “For example, I was in Paris on 3:19 (ph) when the attack started; it’s not on the timeline; what else is missing; go over as soon as possible.”
Now, this timeline was put together, according to your senior staff, explicitly for an article that came out in The Washington Post entitled, “Clinton’s Key Role In Libya Conflict.” In fact, according to your staff, quote, “The comprehensive tick-tock memo Jake had put together was done in large part for the Warrick piece.” It was a piece written by Joby Warrick at The Washington Post. And again, according to your staff, “the great detail Joby had came entirely from Jake.” That’s Jake Sullivan. “Joby didn’t do any independent research.” That’s according to your staff. Now, this article is one of these articles that you read a couple of times — it’s — if it’s about you. Here are some excerpts, Washington Post, “A foreign policy success for the Obama administration and its most famous cabinet minister, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.” Or this. She went to Paris, there were no instructions from the White House on whether to support strong action in Libya, said a senior State Department official, yet within three days, the official said Clinton began to see a way forward. I think my — my personal favorite is this. Clinton ignoring the advice of State Department lawyers, convinced Obama to grant full diplomatic recognition to the rebels.
Now, you and your team were pleased with the work that you did and the risks that you took, the leadership that you took. A Couple — you know, a couple of hours ago, you told you told me, hey, I’m the diplomat here, I’m driving the policy. And isn’t it true that you’d been thinking about getting political credit actually for months on this?
CLINTON: No. We were — we were —
ROSKAM: Well, if that’s your answer, let me draw your attention, Madam Secretary —
CLINTON: But, Congressman, let me please if I could.
ROSKAM: All right. Fair enough.
CLINTON: We were trying to make sure that what was written, because it’s not always accurate in case you all haven’t noticed in your own careers, what was written about a very important foreign policy effort by this administration was accurate.
This was all in response, as I understand it, to a reporter trying to ask questions and us providing the best possible information we could. In fact, trying to make sure that we ourselves had a good time line and that our record keeping was accurate. I think that is not an uncommon experience here in Washington. Somebody calls you up, says I’m writing a story. What can you tell us and you tell them.
ROSKAM: Well, Secretary Clinton, that’s not all that was going on, though, isn’t that right? Because you knew this was good for you. Because this is what you were writing in August, August of 2011. This is right after Tripoli fell.
You wrote, what about the idea of my flying to Martha’s Vineyard to see the president for 30 minutes and then making a statement with him alone. Or you asked your staff how to convince the White House that this would be good for the president — and these are your words, Madam Secretary — it’s a great opportunity to describe all that we’ve been doing before the French try to take all the credit.
In fact, your staff told you that they thought it would be a political boost for the president showing that he was huddling with you instead of being on vacation. And so you asked your chief of staff, Cheryl — or Jake Sullivan asked your chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, to call Denis McDonough, now the president’s chief of staff, to put together a full-court press — I’ll wait while you read Jake’s note.
CLINTON: Thank you. Because I don’t —
ROSKAM: Here’s my question.
CLINTON: I’m waiting for a question.
ROSKAM: Well, go ahead. You finish reading and I’ll start talking.
CLINTON: Well, one thing I wanted which — since I don’t have — since I don’t have what you’re reading in front of me, Congressman —
ROSKAM: Here, it’s tab 12.
CLINTON: Well, that has now been handed to me, and it’s clear I wanted to make sure Chris Stevens, Jeff Feltman, DOD got credit. I wrote that. You did not quote that. Well, let’s —
ROSKAM: This is all about the state of mind at that particular point. You were thinking about credit for you, isn’t that right?
CLINTON: No, that’s not. I wanted those who were part of this policy to be given recognition, and I also wanted to be sure that we had the president and the White House coordinating with us.
It was a very gutsy decision for the president to make, Congressman. It was not by any means an easy call, as I alluded earlier this morning. I was in that Situation Room many, many times watching the president have to balance competing interests, competing opinions trying to make a decision.
When he made the decision that the United States would support NATO and support the Arabs, there was no guarantee about how it would turn out. And I personally believe he deserved a lot of credit, as did Chris Stevens, Jeff Feltman, the Department of Defense and others.
We had a daily phone call, a daily secure phone call, that often included the president, included, you know, the generals’ response — the generals and the admirals responsible for our mission, included our top diplomats. This was a very important and challenging effort that we undertook in large measure to support our NATO allies. So I wanted everybody who had any role in it to be acknowledged.
ROSKAM: Well, and then on August 2011, you received an e-mail from Sidney Blumenthal, that’s tab 11, in which he wrote this to you — this is a historic moment, and you will be credited for realizing it when Gadhafi himself is finally removed. You should, of course, make a public statement before the cameras wherever you are, even in the driveway of your vacation home. You must go on camera. That was Blumenthal’s admonishment to you.
CLINTON: And I don’t recall doing that, just in case you’re going to ask me. ROSKAM: Yeah. But, I mean, look, the timing — you forwarded Blumenthal’s suggestion to Jake Sullivan and you were focused on how dramatic it would be. You were working to make this the story of the day, isn’t that right? This is your e-mail to Jake, this is tab 11. This is your words, Madam Secretary.
Sid makes a good case for what I should say, but it’s premised on being said after Gadhafi goes which will make it more dramatic. That’s my hesitancy since I’m not sure how many chances I’ll get.
So two months before the end of the Gadhafi regime and you’re already planning on how to make your statement dramatic to maximize political gains, isn’t that right?
CLINTON: Congressman, I think that what we were trying to do was to keep the American people informed about this policy. It was, as you recall, somewhat controversial. Now, there were Republicans as well as Democrats who advocated for it and there were Republicans as well as Democrats who were concerned about it. So I think as secretary of State, I did have an obligation at some point to be part of the public discussion about what had occurred. And I see nothing at all unusual about trying to figure out when would be the best time to do that.
ROSKAM: Isn’t it true that your staff heard from the White House after the Warrick (ph) piece in the Washington Post that they were concerned, that is, the White House, of the amount of credit that you were getting as opposed to the amount of credit the president was getting. That’s true, isn’t it, Madam Secretary?
CLINTON: Look, the president’s deserves the lion’s share of the credit. He —
ROSKAM: Then why is the White House uptight that you were taking the credit?
CLINTON: I was often being asked that. The president had a lot of other stuff other going on. He was trying to, you know, rescue the economy, a lot of other things happening. So from my perspective the president deserves the credit. He’s the one that made the decision. I was honored to be part of the team that advised him in and insofar as I was able to explain what we did and the import of it was, I was ready to do so.
ROSKAM: So when Jake Sullivan, tab 11, e-mails you and said that you wanted — you should publicize this in all of your television appearances, they wanted to, quote, “have you lay down something definitive almost like the Clinton doctrine.” That wasn’t the Obama doctrine, is that right, Madam Secretary?
CLINTON: Well, I think what —
ROSKAM: This was the Clinton doctrine.
CLINTON: Well, look. I think that the effort we made, the way we put together the coalition, the way I put together the coalition that imposed sanctions on Iran, I think that there’s a lot to talk about. I talked about smart power. You’re talking about what I believe. I believe we have to use every tool at our disposal.
Lead with diplomacy, support with development, and when necessary, as a last resort, not a first choice, defense. So yes. Is that what I believe? It is what I believe. And I think that, you know, Libya was to some extent an example of that.
ROSKAM: And you were the author of the Libya policy. You were the one that drove it. was your baby. It was an attempt to use smart power and that’s what you tried to do, isn’t that right?
CLINTON: It certainly was something that I came to believe was in the interests of the United States to join with our NATO allies and our Arab partners in doing. The decision, as all decisions in any administration, was made by the president. So the president deserves the historic credit. What role I played, I’m very grateful to have had that chance, and I’m, you know, very convinced that it was the right thing to do.
ROSKAM: Well, you just recited the Clinton doctrine to us, and let me tell you what I think the Clinton doctrine is. I think it’s where an opportunity is seized to turn progress in Libya into a political win for Hillary Rodham Clinton, and at the precise moment when things look good, take a victory lap, like on all the Sunday shows three times that year before Gadhafi was killed, and then turn your attention to other things. I yield back.
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, that is only a political statement which you well understand, and I don’t understand why that has anything to do with what we are supposed to be talking about today.
GOWDY: Madam Secretary, votes have been called. So we will go vote and be in recess. And we will be back as quickly as we can.
GOWDY: The committee will come to order.
Thank you, Madam Secretary, again we apologize for that vote series. And with that, we will go to the gentlelady from Alabama, Ms. Roby.
ROBY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Clinton, I want to talk to you about August 17th, 2012. On that day, you received two memos about Libya and its security. The first one described a deteriorating security situation and what it meant for your people on the ground. The second one also described Libya’s security as, in simple terms, “a mess.”
So this memo wanted you to approve $20 million to be given to the Libyan government to bolster it’s own…
CLINTON: Could you tell me what tab that is on the material that you have?
ROBY: Oh, sure. The first one is I believe 33 and 34. Thank you. I apologize.
So you received those two memos. The second one also described Libya’s security in simple terms as “a mess.” And it was then that you were approached about approving this $20 million that we’ve referred to as the contingency fund; $20 million that would have gone to the Libyan government to bolster their own security there in- country. And then in fact a few days later, you approved that $20 million.
And I’m going to get back to that in a minute. But I want to circle back based on those two memos to some questions that my colleague, Mr. Pompeo, asked about the 1998 ARB. You had talked about in that line of questioning that you, in fact, had closed — made the decision to close some embassies based on the premise that the 1998 ARB recommended the secretary of state should personally review the security situation.
You made a distinction between whether the walls should be 10- feet high versus whether or not it was a highly vulnerable situation. And so I wanted to ask you, when I was listening to that, knowing that I was going to address these August 17th memos, I wanted to ask you, when you were looking at these two memos on August 17th, one said their security was one in disarray; and the other said — they paint picture of a country in chaos.
And I wanted to just ask you, in your opinion as secretary of state, that had closed embassies, whether those references to the security situation in Libya would amount to one as highly vulnerable per your own words?
CLINTON: Congresswoman, I want to answer your question, but I think we need the right tabs.
ROBY: Excuse me, eight and 32. I apologize.
CLINTON: Thank you very much. We will — let me take a look at those, eight and 32.
On August 17th, there was a memo from Beth Jones, the acting secretary (sic) of state, describing a spike in violence and characterizing it as perhaps a new normal. It is very clearly something that we were following, as I have said throughout the — the hearing today. It said that the International Committee of the Red Cross had withdrawn personnel from Benghazi and Misrata, but continued to work in the rest of Libya.
It also pointed out that there is lack of effective security and that the transition — the kind of transition we wanted to see for the people of Libya, and particularly in Benghazi, was not as forthcoming from the Libyans themselves.
I think that the description here is certainly something that we were aware of. And a list of recent violence in Libya is something we were aware of. And the ongoing monitoring of the situation in Libya is something we took very seriously.
I — I can tell you that these kinds of assessments were not uncommon for other places, high-threat, dangerous, unstable places, even war zones where we were also operating.
ROBY: Would you characterize those type of descriptions as highly vulnerable?
CLINTON: Well, I think that, again, there was no recommendation based on any of the assessments, not from our State Department experts, not from the intelligence community that we should abandon either Benghazi or Tripoli.
ROBY: Right. And I understand that. Secretary Clinton, you know, I guess one of the questions that we need answered is, you were a huge advocate for our presence there to begin with. What prevented you from making the decision based on the knowledge that you had from these memos about the deteriorating security situation? What prevented you as secretary of state from making that decision on your own? CLINTON: Well, Congresswoman, I took into consideration a wide variety of factors. There were a number of places where violence would spike and we would have to make a decision. At this point, what we were trying to do was work with the Libyan authorities. That’s what the August 17th memo from Deputy Secretary Nides refers to. We were trying to provide additional security assistance so that the Libyans could do more to assist themselves.
And, you know, it is — it is the case that in the world we’re in today, there are a lot of places that are dangerous. Violence goes up and goes down. Part of what Acting Assistant Secretary Beth Jones was referencing in this memo is this is a new — is this a new normal. And the secretary does personally oversee the decision to order departure or shut down posts, and it is important to take that ultimate responsibility very much to heart, which I did.
But I think that there was no recommendation to do that. And again, I was following it. I was watching it. I was trying to, you know, make a very well-reasoned analysis. But I was also listening to the people who were both on the ground and with a lot of experience, who had served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, other places like that. And there was no recommendation.
ROBY: Secretary Clinton, what I’m trying to make a distinction between is the decisions that you made with respect to Benghazi and decisions that your staff made with respect to Benghazi. But I’m already running out of time, so I do want to get back to that $20 million that we talked about.
On numerous occasions, the finger has been pointed at Congress — we’re not properly funding the security, or the funding not being available for the security request. Yet I find it curious that you were able to find $20 million to support increased security forces in Libya, yet we weren’t able to find money to support your own people on the ground. And, you know, particularly in light of the fact that Mrs. Lamb said that funding wasn’t an issue.
So I think that it’s been a little bit misleading to say it’s Congress’s fault, but then also it’s worth pointing out that there was $20 million found for Libyan security and no dollars found to support increased security for our own people.
CLINTON: Well, as — as I know you’re aware, Congresswoman, the Congress sets spending levels in categories of spending. And as I said earlier, the requests for diplomatic security, to do exactly what you are referencing, were underfunded.
They were underfunded continuously. I am pleased that, following the tragedy at Benghazi we began to get more support from the Congress. But one of the funds that is very important when you’re actually talking about an American presence in the country goes back to questions that I was being asked by Congresswoman Duckworth.
If we can help build up the Libyan security forces, they are the host country. It is their responsibility to protect diplomatic posts. So, I don’t see these as unconnected. But it is true that we spent money for diplomatic security out of what the Congress appropriated…
ROBY: Right, but, Secretary Clinton…
CLINTON: …for diplomatic security.
ROBY: …Charlene Lamb said herself it wasn’t a budget issue. So do you take issue with that statement?
CLINTON: Well, I can only tell you our analysis of the underfunding of security for our diplomatic posts was very much in line with what I have just said. That we asked for money in this administration in the earlier years, and we were underfunded.
And so I can tell you that it would have been — it would have been very helpful to have more money for diplomatic security. And I want to thank the Congress for upping the amount of money that went to diplomatic security, working with the Defense Department to get more marines deployed to more posts and the other actions that have been taken post-Benghazi.
ROBY: And we — we — we appreciate that. Although, again, I — I really think there’s a conflict between Charlene Lamb’s statement and — and some that you’ve made about that.
But I — real quickly, Mr. Chairman, I want to run through one quick timeline and — and — and make an observation. On August 17th, you received a memo on the deteriorating security in Libya. The same day, you were asked to give $20 million to the Libyan government to beef up its own security.
Your department issued a — a — a warning telling American citizens to get out of Libya and not to travel there. And then Libya itself issued a, quote, “maximum alert” for Benghazi.
You several times made the statement — and we believe you — that Ambassador Stevens was your friend. And I’m wondering why, with all of this in front of you, the Secretary of State, why did it not occur to you to pick up the phone and call your friend?
I know you’ve — you’ve mentioned experts. I know you’ve said that Ambassador Stevens and — and — and other diplomats go into these high-threat situations with their eyes wide open.
But I just want to hear from you why, with all of this information in front of you, particularly on the date of August 17th, did it not occur to you to pick up the phone and call your friend, Ambassador Stevens, and ask him what he needed?
CLINTON: We knew what he was asking for. Those requests went to the security professionals. And I would only add, with respect to the travel warning, we issue travel warnings for many, many places in the world.
They are really aimed at informing American travelers, business travels — travelers, tourists about conditions that they might face if they go to countries. They are not a criterion for determining whether we keep or end a diplomatic presence.
And I just want to go back to the point you were making, and read from the Accountability Review Board. “For many years, the State Department has been engaged in a struggle to obtain the resources necessary to carry out its work, with varying degrees of success.
“This has brought about a deep sense of the importance of husbanding resources to meet the highest priorities — laudable in the extreme, but it has also had the effect of conditioning a few State Department managers to favor restricting the use of resources as a general orientation.
“It is imperative for the State Department to be mission-driven rather than resource-constrained, and one overall conclusion in this report is that Congress must do its part to meet this challenge and provide necessary resources to the State Department to address security risks and meet mission imperatives.”
ROBY: My time is out and I’m afraid my chairman is going to tell me to be quiet. But the last — or do you…
GOWDY: Well — well — we — we — I’m not gonna tell you to be quiet. I’m just gonna ask you if you might hold it. I’m gonna try to be a little quicker on the gavel than I’ve been just in the interest of time. So —
ROBY: OK, I’ll circle back then. Thank you. I yield back.
GOWDY: I would recognize the gentleman from Maryland.
CUMMINGS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. The — let me say that the — Madam Secretary and committee, the August 17th, 2012 information memo just referenced is not something new.
CLINTON: That’s right.
CUMMINGS: It’s not something that this committee uncovered.
CLINTON: That’s right.
CUMMINGS: In fact, Congress has had the information memo for years. It was attached to — as an exhibit to the Benghazi ARB report that Secretary Clinton sent to Congress before her testimony to Congress in January of 2013. The ARB had it and considered it important enough to append it to its report, and Congress already questioned the secretary about her awareness of security conditions in Libya in the run-up to the attacks.
ROBY: Will the gentleman yield?
CUMMINGS: We just gave you an extra three minutes. I’ve got to — I’ve got to use my time, I’m sorry. If I have extra time, I’ll give it to you.
Within months of the attacks, the Republican investigations of Benghazi had begun, and the chief investigator, Madam Secretary, who was chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Darrell Issa, made it clear that his efforts were directed at you. As he spoke at a political even in New Hampshire, Chairman Issa had said he came to that political event in New Hampshire to, quote, “shape the debate for 2016,” end of quote. How right he was.
At that event, Chairman Issa explained — can we roll the tape please?
ISSA: We need to have an answer of when the secretary of Defense had asset that he could have begun spinning up, why there was not one order given to turn on one Department of Defense asset. I have my suspicions, which is Secretary Clinton told Leon to stand down. And we all heard about the stand-down order for two military personnel.
That order is undeniable they were told not to get up and get off the airplane —
CUMMINGS: The idea that you would intentionally take steps to prevent assistance to Americans under attack in Benghazi is simply beyond the pale. The claim has also been disproven multiple times over.
First, it was disproved by the ARB, which issued its report at the end of 2012. Admiral Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and — had led the ARB’s military review and concluded that the military had, and I quote, “done everything possible that we could.” End of quote.
Then the Republican-led — the Republican-led — House Armed Services Committee issued its report in February of 2014, Madam Secretary, which detailed all of the steps taken by the military to mobilize upon hearing of the attacks, including immediately redirecting a surveillance drone to Benghazi, ordering two Marine FAS platoons to Rota, Spain to deploy, one bound for Benghazi, the other for Tripoli, ordering the commanders and in extremis force training in Croatia to move to a U.S. Naval air station in Sigonella, Italy; and dispatching a special operations unit to the region from the United States.
About his review, the chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, a Republican, stated “I think I’ve been pretty well satisfied that given where the troops were, how quickly the thing all happened and how quickly it dissipated, we probably couldn’t have done more than we did.” End of quote.
CUMMINGS: Chairman Issa’s Oversight Committee, which I am the ranking member of, even spent years actively pursuing evidence for this claim and found nothing. And as it says in the Democratic report we put out on Monday, none of the 54 individuals interviewed by our select committee has identified any evidence to support this Republican claim against you.
In fact, not one of the nine congressional and independent investigations has identified any evidence to support this assertion in the last 3 years.
My question. I sincerely hope this puts this offensive claim to rest once and for all. I’m asking you, Madam Secretary, did you order Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to stand down on the night of the attacks?
CLINTON: Of course, not, Congressman. And I appreciate your going through the highlights of the very comprehensive report that the House Armed Services Committee did on this.
I think it’s fair to say everybody — everybody — certainly, Defense Secretary Panetta, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Dempsey, everybody in the military scrambled to see what they could do. And I was very grateful for that. And as you rightly point out, logistics and distance made it unlikely that they could be anywhere near Benghazi within any kind of reasonable time.
CUMMINGS: Now, Madam Secretary, the Benghazi attacks occurred during a period of significant upheaval and intense volatility in the Middle East and north Africa. There was tremendous unrest throughout the region.
I would like to play a clip that shows what was happening at dozens of posts throughout the world, and then I would like to get your reaction, if you can.
Please play the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: Protests have spread over an amateur video made in the United States which mocks Islam. In the Afghan capital, Kabul, a thousand Afghans held a violent protests, burning cars and tires and shooting at police.
In the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, hundreds of protesters from hard line (ph) Islamic groups threw petrol bombs and rocks outside the American Embassy.
And in Pakistan, at least one protester was killed.
In Beirut, Hassan Nasrallah (ph), head of the Shia-Muslim Movement (ph), Hezbollah, called for weekly demonstrations against the video. Tens of thousands have turned out in a tightly organized, peaceful protest.
Let’s go live on the half now to the streets of Beirut.
(END VIDEO VLIP)
CUMMINGS: Secretary Clinton, what was your sense of how things were unfolding?
CLINTON: Congressman, they were very dangerous and very volatile.
Starting on Monday with the attack on our embassy in Cairo, going all the way through that week into the next week, there were numerous protests, some of which you have shown us clips of. And they were dangerous.
You know, the one that — that I was particularly concerned about happened in Tunis, and it was the Friday after the attack in Benghazi.
We knew from monitoring the media, from reports coming in from our embassies throughout the region, that this was a very hot issue. It was not going away. It was being kept alive. We were particularly worried about what might happen on Friday, because Friday is the day of prayers for Muslims.
So, we were on very high alert going into Friday. I got a call through our — our Operations Department from our Ambassador in Tunis who was in the safe room in the embassy in Tunisia. There were thousands of demonstrators on the outside. They were battering down the barriers and the walls around our embassy. They had already set on fire the American school, which is very close to the Embassy. And the Ambassador and his team were desperate for help. Their calls to the government of Tunisia, the host government, had gone unanswered.
I immediately got on the phone calling the foreign minister, calling the prime minister, who were the heads of government. I could not find either one of them. I called the president, President Marzouki. I got him on the phone. I told him he had to rescue our people. He had to disperse the crowds that were there because of the video.
He said, I don’t control the army. I have nothing I can do. I said, Mr. president (ph), you must be able to do something. I’ve got all of my people inside the Embassy — they are being attacked. If the protesters get through into the Embassy, I don’t know what will happen.
He said, well, you know, I do have a presidential guard. I said, Mr. president (ph), please deploy your presidential guard, at least show that Tunisia will stand with the United States against these protesters over this inflammatory video.
To his great credit and to my great relief, that is exactly what he did. He sent the presidential guard. Those of you who have traveled know sometimes they are men in fancy uniforms, sometimes they are on horses, but he sent them. He sent whatever he could muster to our rescue, and the crowd was dispersed. The damage was extensive. But we thankfully did not have anything other than property damage to the Embassy and to the American school. And the government of Tunisia later helped us to repair that.
But it was the kind of incredibly tense moment — we had protesters going over the walls of our embassy in Khartoum. We had protests, as you rightly point out, all the way to Indonesia. Thankfully, no Americans were killed, partly because I had been consistent in speaking out about that video from the very first day when we knew it had sparked the attack on our embassy in Cairo.
I spoke about it because I wanted it to be clear to every government around the world that we were going to look to them to protect our facilities. And it was a very tense week, Congressman. One that I think demonstrated how volatile the world is and how important it is for the United States to be on top of what people themselves are reacting to, and that’s what I tried to do during that time.
CUMMINGS: Thank you. Thank you very much.
GOWDY: Thank the gentleman from Maryland. The Chair will recognize the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Westmoreland.
WESTMORELAND: Madam Secretary, I want to thank you for giving us a play-by-play of what happened in Tunisia.
Could you do the same thing with what happened in Benghazi? Could you tell us the same kind of play by play that — who came to the rescue there? Because I don’t know of anybody that did.
So, I don’t know who you called and their lack of ability to get anybody there. It’s just hard for me to — to comprehend why you would give us that blow by blow of something that we’re not even investigating here, but we appreciate it. But I do want to ask you…
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, if — if I could…
CLINTON: … several of you have raised the video and have dismissed the importance of the video. And I think that is unfortunate, because there’s no doubt, and as I said earlier, even the person we have now arrested as being one of the ringleaders of the attack on our compound in Benghazi, is reputed to have used the video as a way to gather up the attackers that attacked our compound. So, I think it’s important. These are complex issues, Mr. Congressman. And I think it’s important that we look at the totality of what was going on. It’s like that terrible incident that happened in Paris.
WESTMORELAND: I got you.
CLINTON: Cartoons sparked two al-Qaeda-trained (ph) attackers who killed, you know, nearly a dozen people. I think it’s important…
WESTMORELAND: Reclaiming my time…
CLINTON: … As — as you are members of Congress looking into these issues, that you look at the totality so we can learn the best lessons to try to…
WESTMORELAND: Yes, ma’am. Reclaiming my time.
Let me — let me ask you about a little thing. You said that you spent a lot of sleepless nights — and I can’t imagine — and you said you often wondered what you could have done different. What did you come up with?
CLINTON: Oh, a long list. A long list, Congressman. To go back…
WESTMORELAND: Give me your top two.
CLINTON: Well, to go back to the point that Congresswoman Duckworth was raising about contractors.
If we’d had a more reliable security force in large enough numbers, well armed and well focused on protecting our compound…
WESTMORELAND: Well, what could you — what could you have done different than what you did do?
CLINTON: Well, I’m trying to tell you. I think if the militia that had been engaged by both the CIA and the State Department had been more reliable…
WESTMORELAND: But you didn’t have anything to do with that you said.
CLINTON: But I made a long list, Congressman, about anything that anybody could have done. And that’s how I looked at it. I looked at it from the perspective of what are the many pieces. Contracting is a part of that. There are many other issues that we need to address. That’s really the main reason I’m here, to continue to try to do what I can to honor those who were lost and to make sure that, you know, we are well prepared to try to prevent.
Now, we know we can’t prevent everything. That’s the way the world is, but to do the very best we can and there are many elements that go into that. WESTMORELAND: So the contractors would be number one. What would be number two?
CLINTON: Well, if there had — I don’t think that’s — that’s an unimportant point. We had a militia. We had an unarmed static force that probably couldn’t have done much more. It should, I think, inspire us to look for ways to get host countries to permit there to be more dedicated security forces well enough armed and trained to be really a force to protect our compounds and our other facilities. That would have perhaps made a difference.
It certainly might have made a difference if we had more help from the CIA there on the compound; if maybe we had a locating presence. But I have to — I have to say in reviewing a lot of the analyses that have been made by security experts, very well-trained, experienced security people, they’re not sure that anything would have stopped the attackers.
And I know that Admiral Mullen when he went into his work for the ARB was concerned that none of the diplomatic security officers had fired a shot. They had their weapons. They hadn’t fired a shot.
WESTMORELAND: Ma’am, I’m not trying to cut you off. I’ll try to be nice. And you’re doing well. We both talk slow, so let’s give each other a little breathing room here.
You talked about Ms. Victoria Nuland. You know her, right?
CLINTON: Yes, I do.
WESTMORELAND: OK. This was — this was her briefing on September the 13th. Some reporter named Elise (ph) had asked her a question about the security. And her response was, “I’m going to reject that, Elise (ph). Let me tell you what I can about the security of our mission in Benghazi. It did include a local Libyan guard force around the outer perimeter. That guard force never showed up that night, and it did not normally patrol the outer perimeter. The only people that patrolled the outer perimeter was the unarmed Blue Mountain. But,” she said, “this is the way we work in all of our missions all around the world, that the outer perimeter is the responsibility of the host government, which there wasn’t really a host government at the time. There was obviously a physical perimeter barrier, a wall, and then there was a robust American security presence inside the compound.”
I don’t — I don’t think five D.S. agents not fully equipped or armed for what they were facing you could call a “robust American security presence.” Would you — would you have used the word “robust”?
CLINTON: I would certainly have said that the security on that night was reliant on a militia that did not perform as had been expected.
WESTMORELAND: I’m not talking about the militia on the outside. I’m talking about the “robust American presence” on the inside. CLINTON: Well, I — it was considered robust in the sense that the request had been for five diplomatic security officers to accompany the ambassador. There were five there. And they did, as I have testified to, the very best they could. They were armed. And in the course of the thorough investigation conducted by the Accountability Review Board, as I was saying, Admiral Mullen zeroed in on this, having a, you know, more than 40 years experience in the military.
And he wanted to know why the D.S. agents had not fired their weapons. And they explained, as many since have heard who have interviewed them, their assessment was that it would have resulted in the loss of even greater life. And they chose not to. And Admiral Mullen reached the conclusion that they acted appropriately.
So even though we had the five D.S. agents that had been requested, they were overrun and unable to do more than they did.
WESTMORELAND: They were — they were overrun because they didn’t have any defensive positions to fight from because they refused to give them additional sand bags because they did not want it to look like a military compound. I’ve heard that testimony.
I want to ask you about the FEST. Are you familiar with the FEST?
WESTMORELAND: What is the FEST, Madam Secretary?
CLINTON: It is an emergency support team to help stand up embassies that have, or consulates or other facilities, that have been impacted by either natural disasters or some kind of attack.
WESTMORELAND: Kidnapping. And where are they located?
CLINTON: They’re located in the United States.
WESTMORELAND: At Langley Air Force Base?
CLINTON: I’m not sure where they’re located now.
WESTMORELAND: They’re there. And it’s an interagency —
WESTMORELAND: — task force.
WESTMORELAND: Includes the FBI, I guess the DOD, and the State Department.
WESTMORELAND: And if you look at the State Department website, FEST comes up under that, so I’m assuming that you are the lead in those agencies.
CLINTON: It’s an interagency effort. WESTMORELAND: Okay. But it was deployed in 1998 in Kenya, correct?
WESTMORELAND: After the embassy bombing there —
WESTMORELAND: — of the towers. And to Tanzania, correctly?
CLINTON: That’s correct.
WESTMORELAND: They were there ready to go on short notice. They said they could have been ready in four hours to leave. This is the group of people that would go into a situation, as you described, when an embassy had been overrun, attacked, kidnapping or whatever, to basically give guidance to any of the other forces or help that was coming in, correct?
And I know that your staff — and we’ve got a number of e-mails from your staff that originally recommended that you send the FEST team, and I think they may have talked to Mr. Sullivan, or it was somebody that got an e-mail. And they said they would pass it up the chain. And somebody made the decision not to send the FEST team, which would have been, as secretary of state, I would think, since it was a State Department-led mission, that that would have been the first thing that you would have wanted to get out.
But instead, if I understand correctly from the e-mail chain, your first request was to see how soon the FBI could get over there. Is that a true statement?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, the FEST went to East Africa to help rebuild our embassy capacity. They have expertise in, you know, once our two embassies were bombed, how do we regain communications, for example.
We were not going to rebuild in Benghazi, so there was no reason to send a FEST team. There was a reason to try to get the FBI investigators into Benghazi as soon as it was safe for them to go so they could start to try to build a case so we could bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice. That was absolutely the primary goal that we had in working with the FBI.
And I think it’s — you know, when we make a decision on the — on a deployment of the FEST, it is not just the secretary of state. In this case there was the NSC involved, there was the CIA involved, there was a CIVITZ about it, and the considered conclusion was we’re not going to rebuild in Benghazi. So yes, we…
WESTMORELAND: Well, that was a quick decision to make that night, that you were not going to rebuild in Benghazi, that was pretty — CLINTON: The FEST would not have — there was nothing to rebuild, there was —
WESTMORELAND: I understand. But you just mentioned all the agencies that would have been important to get on the ground as quick as possible, and summarize what the situation was to give you that direction.
But I know I’m out of time, Mr. Chairman, but I do want to say that what miss Roby was trying to get you to say, was what decisions did you make in regard to Benghazi? And what were you responsible to make? And I think that’s what all of us want to know. What did you do? And what decisions did you make? And you said everybody else is responsible for everything else. What were you responsible for?
CLINTON: I was responsible for sending Chris Stevens to Benghazi as an envoy. I was responsible for supporting a temporary mission that we were constantly evaluating to determine whether it should be become permanent in Benghazi. I was responsible for recommending Chris Stevens to be the ambassador. I was responsible for working on the policy, both before and after the end of the Gadhafi regime. I was responsible for quite a bit, Congressman.
I was not responsible for specific security requests and decisions. That is not something I was responsible for.
GOWDY: The gentleman’s time has expired. The chair will now recognize the gentleman from California, Mr. Schiff.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, we’re now almost at the end of the second round of questions, and I find it necessary to amend something I said after the first round, and that is, I don’t understand the core theory of this case.
I thought I did, but after this round I honestly don’t understand where my colleagues are coming from. I’m probably not as good a lawyer, undoubtedly not as good a prosecutor as — as our chairman.
Most of what we’ve gone over in this round, frankly, were questions that were asked to you when you testified before the House the last time, before you testified before the Senate. They were the subject of the ARB report.
But there were a few unique lines of questioning that I want to comment and ask you about. One of my colleagues spent his time asking about some of your interactions with your press people. I guess, critiquing your overall Libya strategy and something he called the “Clinton doctrine”.
We’ve been assured this committee, contrary to what Representative McCarthy said, is not about attacking you. But frankly, I don’t see the relevance of any of those questions in terms of what actually happened in Benghazi except as a means of trying to attack you or make a political statement regarding the presidential campaign.
And then there was the continuing preoccupation with Sidney Blumenthal. The chairman spent — both panels asking you about Sidney Blumenthal. And — and I have to say I just don’t understand the preoccupation with Sidney Blumenthal. You would think, for the time we have spent on him, that he was in Benghazi on the night, manning the barricades.
There is not a member on this dais that doesn’t have friends they’ve known for a long time, that send them unsolicited e-mails, and we’re too polite to write back saying, you know, this really isn’t all that helpful.
There’s not a member here that hasn’t had that experience, so I don’t know why that is so remarkable. So, I honestly — honestly don’t understand this fixation, but I — I do know one thing about Sidney Blumenthal. It’s been abundantly clear here today.
My seven colleagues do not want the American people to read what he said in his deposition. And I’ll tell you, it’s not because of anything he said. What they really don’t want the American people to see is what they asked.
And it was what Ranking Member Cummings intimated, which is they’ve gone on national TV to say, “we’re not interested in the foundation, we’re not interested in all these other things. We’re only interested in whether we’ve gotten everything.”
But when you read that deposition, you see that is exactly what they were interested in. Now, I can’t release it myself. But I can tell you Sidney Blumenthal by the numbers. So, here’s Sidney Blumenthal by the numbers.
Republicans asked more than 160 questions about Mr. Blumenthal’s relationship and communications with the Clintons, but less than 20 questions about the Benghazi attacks.
Republicans asked more than 50 questions about the Clinton foundation. But only four questions about security in Benghazi. Republicans asked more than 270 questions about Mr. Blumenthal’s alleged business activities in Libya, but no questions about the U.S. presence in Benghazi.
And Republicans asked more than 45 questions about David Brock, Media Matters — I have no idea what that is, even, and affiliated entities, but no questions — no questions — about Ambassador Stevens and other U.S. personnel in Benghazi.
That’s Sidney Blumenthal by the numbers.
Now, there were a couple lines of questioning that I did understand. One of them was about the Accountability Review Board report. Now, not the one, actually, that’s relevant to today, about Benghazi, but the one that was written 17 years ago about a different attack in Tanzania. Mr. Pompeo put up a very nice chart — they’ve got great exhibits — selectively quoting from that report. And the — the implication was the secretary should have security, should be the one deciding the security at every facility around the world.
What he didn’t read to you was part of the same section of that report, which says, quote, “in the process, the secretary should re- examine the present organizational structure, with the objective of assuring that a single high-ranking officer is accountable for all protective security matters and has the authority necessary to coordinate on the secretary’s behalf.” Quite a different impression you get from reading the whole thing.
We had a debate about whether we should participate in this committee, given where it was going, and where it’s been. Mr. Cummings said we should, so we could be in the room to point out when a witness wasn’t treated fairly.
I have to say I think he was right. Much as I held the opposite opinion. But it’s important to be able to point out, if they’re not going to give you the actual report or give you the time to read it, where they want to be selective to make a point.
Now, I don’t think that selectively quoting that 17-year-old ARB sheds much light on what happened in Benghazi, but it is a nice way to attack you.
I also want to talk a bit about something that I spent a lot of time on, as the ranking on intel and as a member of the investigation that the intelligence committee did. That was a Republican-led investigation. Two of my colleagues here are on the same committee, went through the same investigation.
And my colleagues have intimated that — that there was an effort to spin what happened. And — and they have neglected to point out, as you might imagine and as you well know, that the intelligence we got after an attack like this — in the fog of war, initially, you believe one thing and then you get more information, you understand something better, and then you get more and you understand still something better.
And we were briefed by the director of the CIA at the time. I wish he were here today. And our understanding kept evolving. And in the beginning we got it wrong. And I’ve looked through that.
And — and in that initial intelligence, within a few hours, there were some reports indicating it was a direct attack, as you told the Egyptian prime minister at the time. That was what was understood in the immediate hours.
Within 24 hours, though, we had intelligence — both open source and signals intelligence — that there was a protest. That the protest was hijacked and that it became an attack, and your statements are — were in — indicative and reflective of what we knew then.
It wasn’t until about a week or ten days later when we actually got the videos from the compound that we learned definitively there was no protest.
Well, that simple chronology sheds a lot of light on why you and Ambassador Rice said what you did at the time. Not a member here has shown anything you’ve said or the Ambassador said that was at all inconsistent with what our intelligence agencies told us exactly at the time.
It — it may come of interest to some of my colleagues who are not on intelligence to know that there are still a great many people in the intelligence community that believe the video was part of the motivation of some who attacked us on that night.
I wish, frankly, we spent more time giving you an accurate representation of the documents and the reports and the facts instead of making an effort to demagogue on this.
I find it fascinating, frankly, that my colleagues put so much reliance in a 17-year-old Accountability Review Board report, but they place no weight in the one actually about Benghazi.
Thomas Pickering has 40 years of experience. There’s probably no one in the diplomatic corps more respected. Admiral Mullen, the other co-chair, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, someone the Republicans and Democrats both respected tremendously — are we now to believe that they’re a bunch of rubes, that they had the wool pulled over their eyes or that they were corrupt or incompetent?
Why is their report of so little value? It’s hard for me to escape the conclusion that the one centric fact of them all is that you are running for president, and with high poll numbers. And that’s why we’re here.
And I — I say all this because I never want to see this happen again. I don’t want, four years from now or eight years from now or 12 years from now, in another presidential election, for us to be in here or — for one side or the other — I don’t want the Republicans to say, “let’s do Benghazi again, that really worked.” or the Democrats to say, “they did it to us, let’s do it to them.”
And — and I think, frankly, by only pointing these things out, that’s the only way we’re going to avoid having this happen again.
Well, let me just ask you on that 17-year-old ARB, and in light of Mr. Morell who came in and — and talked to us, not about the security at the diplomatic facility, but at the CIA annex.
His testimony was, “all of the improvements to security at the Benghazi base, the idea to conduct an assessment, the assessment itself, the implementation of its recommendations, were all done without the knowledge and direction of the director and I. It happened exactly where it should have happened, which is in that security office.”
SCHIFF: So, same view on the CIA’s part. Of course, they’re not here. But would you like to comment on what the full recommendation of the Tanzania ARB was, and the very similar process used in our intelligence agencies?
CLINTON: Thank you very much, Congressman Schiff, and I think you make an excellent point. I’m aware of Deputy Director Morell’s testimony. It’s very similar to what I have said here. It’s very similar to what I believe General Petraeus would have said had he come before you.
That the issues about security, whether we’re talking State Department or we’re talking CIA or any other agency, are not made at the level of the secretary, director. It is made at the appropriate level of the security professionals.
And I think what Mike Morell told you in the Intelligence Committee investigation you would hear from anyone in the government at a high level who has to deploy Americans around the world.
We see that with the Defense Department. You know, we see breaches of security on our military bases. And we know that everybody is struggling to get it right. And as I have said, in the vast majority of cases our security professionals do.
And then unfortunately, there are instances where they do not. And that is why we have after-action reports or why we have the Accountability Review Board, to look at what happened and try to learn from it.
And going all the way back to Tehran and Beirut and East Africa and the 100 attacks on facilities around the world since 2001, we have tried to learn and apply those lessons. And we’ll, I hope, continue doing so.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
I yield back.
GOWDY: The gentleman yields back.
The chair will now recognize the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Jordan.
JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Clinton, just a few minutes ago, you said some of you have raised the video. Raised the video? You raised the video. At 10:08 on September 11th, 2012, you raised the video.
At 10:08, with Americans still fighting for their lives, an hour- and-a-half before the attack ends, you raised the video. So I’m going to go back to that 10:08 statement. In our first round you said that the statement was not meant to explain the type of the attack or the cause of the attack.
So let’s look at your statement. The official press statement from the Department of State, statement on the attack in Benghazi, press statement, Hillary Rodham Clinton, secretary of state, Washington, D.C., September 11th, 2012.
Twelve sentences in this statement, I’m going to focus on the one. “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”
There is the cause, there is a motive presented there. And there is only one motive. You say this, you say, inflammatory material caused vicious behavior. Vicious behavior — vicious behavior that led and resulted in the deaths of four Americans. There sure seems to be cause there.
CLINTON: Congressman, may I read what I said? What I said is that: “I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today. As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed.
“We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack. This evening, I called Libyan President Magariaf to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya. President Magariaf expressed his condemnation and condolences and pledged his government’s full cooperation.
“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.
“Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear, there is never any justification for violent acts of this kind. In light of the events of today, the United States government is working with partner countries around the world to protect our personnel, our missions, and American citizens worldwide.”
JORDAN: Right, and I’m asking, you said the first round there was no motive, no cause, you weren’t trying to explain the cause of the attack. It sure seems to me like you did. You said to…
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, what I…
JORDAN: What you presented, you said — you presented inflammatory material was the reason for the vicious behavior. Is that not cause and effect?
CLINTON: Well, that’s not what it says. What I said was, some have…
JORDAN: I know what you said, you read the whole thing.
CLINTON: I did.
JORDAN: I’m asking about that one sentence, because earlier you said it wasn’t — there was no cause, no motive presented. I think there was. And that is what I think most of the American people thought.
CLINTON: Well, I know there was a great deal of news coverage that looked at the events in Cairo, looked at what happened in Benghazi, and drew some comparisons and maybe even connections.
I know, as we just heard from Congressman Schiff, there was a lot of fast-moving analysis by the intelligence community to try to make sense of all of this. And I can only tell you from the perspective of having been in the…
JORDAN: Secretary Clinton, hang on a second. The intelligence may have changed some, but your story didn’t. That is the point.
CLINTON: Well, that is…
JORDAN: Privately — and privately your story was much different than it was publicly. Again, you said to the Egyptian prime minister, we know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film, it was a planned attack, not a protest.
You said to your family, terrorists killed two of our good people. So your story privately is much different than what you’re telling the American people.
The intelligence may have changed, the video may have had an impact in other places, but in Benghazi it didn’t. And you tried to put them all together, that is what bothers us.
Let me show you a slide here. This is from September 14th. In the first statements by Jay Carney: “Let’s be clear these protests were reaction to a video that had spread to the region. We have no information to suggest that Benghazi was a pre-planned attack.”
The statement below is from your press person in Libya. Sends this to Greg Hicks and to the experts in the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau, the same people who said Susan Rice was off the reservation on five networks.
Here is what they get. He is what she says to them. “Benghazi, more terrorist attack than a protest. We want to distinguish,” distinguish, “not conflate the events. This was a well-planned attack.”
So, again, privately the experts in the Near Eastern Affair Bureau, the experts on Libya, know that this was a well-planned attack. But publicly Jay Carney is saying the same thing you’re saying publicly, we have no information that this was pre-planned, this was caused by a video.
CLINTON: Congressman, the next morning, at 9:59, I gave another statement. And I listened carefully to what you said and you kept talking about cause. Well, the word cause is not in my statement of the night before. I was talking…
JORDAN: I’m referring to what you said to me in our first exchange a few hours ago.
CLINTON: Well, no — well, I’m sorry, Congressman, if I haven’t been clear, I will try to be clearer. I was talking about people throughout the region trying to justify attacks on our facilities, as we saw later in the week, and justifying their behavior, and repeating it.
And using the fact of the video not only to arouse crowds, as we saw in the video clips that the ranking member played, but also that would deter governments from coming to our rescue because they would be perhaps ambivalent about doing so.
So you’re right, I mentioned the video because I feared what would happen and in fact, it did happen. And in the next morning — the night before was a brief statement that we put out because we knew we had lost Sean Smith. And I felt an obligation to tell that to the American people.
JORDAN: Madam Secretary?
CLINTON: The next morning I gave a much longer statement, and it was very clear. Heavily armed militants assaulted the compound and set fire to our building. That’s what it says.
JORDAN: Secretary Clinton — Secretary Clinton, that’s all good. But you said you were trying to communicate to folks all over, all the folks you have around the Middle East, right?
CLINTON: Yes, I was trying to send a message, yes.
JORDAN: OK, I got it.
But that is not what the experts said. They said don’t conflate the events, tell the truth about Benghazi, talk about what happened there, other places where the video may have had an impact, fine, say that.
Why did you put them all together when you didn’t do that privately? When you told your family about Benghazi, it was, terrorists killed two of our people. When you talked to the Libyan president, Ansar al-Sharia did it, al Qaeda did it. When you talked to the Egyptian prime minister, we know it’s not a film, we know it’s not a protest, we know it’s not a video, it’s a terrorist attack.
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I was working off the information that we had, which was that Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility.
CLINTON: And at that point I did say that it was an al Qaeda- related group.
JORDAN: Madam Secretary, look…
CLINTON: We were also…
JORDAN: Look at the difference in these two statements. One says it wasn’t a pre-planned attack, that’s Jay Carney talking publicly; the other one says — from your experts in Libya, says it was a well-planned attack.
Now they could not be further apart. They could not be. That’s what the — that’s what I’m having a hard time figuring out.
And you know what’s interesting? The date of this, 9/14/12, 9/14/12. You know what else happened on the 14th, September 14th? There’s another document that’s kind of important. That’s the same day that Ben Rhodes drafted his talking points memo. Bullet point number 2 — to underscore that these protests are rooted in an internet video, not a broader failure of policy, because we couldn’t have Libya — your baby, as Mr. Roskam pointed out earlier — we couldn’t have that fail, can’t have that.
So the same day you got Jay Carney saying this was in no way a pre-planned attack and the experts in Libya talking, Greg Hickson and Near Eastern Affairs people are saying it was a well-planned attack, that same day, the talking points that get Susan Rice ready for the Sunday shows, make sure you focus on —
CLINTON: Well Congressman —
JORDAN: Make sure you focus on the video, not about a broader policy failure. After all, we’ve got an election coming in 50-some days.
CLINTON: Well Congressman, I believe to this day the video played a role. I believe that the person we have —
JORDAN: But your experts —
CLINTON: There were many experts. If you look — you probably haven’t had an opportunity to read the excellent report issued by the Democrats — but on September 13th, the intelligence community issued its first thorough, fully coordinated assessment of what happened in Benghazi. It said we assess the attacks on Tuesday against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi began spontaneously, the attacks began spontaneously following the protests at the U.S. embassy in Cairo. Extremists with ties to al-Qaida were involved in the attacks.
There is no contradiction. The protest because of the video, bringing in those who were affiliated with al-Qaida —
JORDAN: Is there a contradiction — is there a contradiction right here?
CLINTON: There is no contradiction, Congressman.
JORDAN: How about this contradiction. A well-planned attack, no pre-planned attack. How about that? One of them is well-planned, one of them isn’t. Jay Carney said there was no pre-planned attack and the experts in Libya said it was a pre-planned attack.
CLINTON: Well the experts in Libya were among the experts looking at this and analyzing it. We went on the basis of the intelligence community, and they were scrambling to get all the information that they could.
And yes, the intelligence community assessment served as the basis for what Ambassador Rice said when she appeared on the Sunday show. And on September 18th, when the video footage arrived from the security cameras, the deputy CIA director has testified it was not until September 18th when the CIA received the Libyan government’s assessment of the video that showed the front of the facility with no sign of protesters that it became clear we needed to revisit our analysis.
And then after they looked at the video footage and FBI reporting from interviews of personnel on the ground in Benghazi during the attacks, the CIA changed its assessment. And that was explained thoroughly in the bipartisan reported issued by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence which did a very thorough, Congressman.
GOWDY: The gentleman yields back. Madam Secretary, I think we’re going to take a quick 10-minute break. Two of my colleagues throughout the day have asked for 10 seconds, I’ve had a third colleague ask for 10 seconds. If she holds it to 10 seconds, I will the gentlelady from Alabama 10 seconds.
ROBY: I just wanted to point out that the ranking member is actually incorrect. The August 17th memo that I was referring to in my last question, we have not had the opportunity to discuss with Secretary Clinton and how it affected her decision, and it was just declassified last week.
GOWDY: All right. With that, we will take a 10-minute break and come back.
GOWDY: Welcome back, Madam Secretary. The chair will now recognize the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Roskam.
ROSKAM: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, the other side of the aisle has admonished the Republicans for not having a theory. And let me tell you a little bit of a theory that I’ve developed from my reading and research and listening today.
And it’s this: that you initiated a policy to put the United States into Libya as the secretary of state, and you overcame a number of obstacles within the administration to advocate for military action. And you were successful in doing that.
Ultimately, the decision was the president’s, as you acknowledge. But you were the prime mover. You were the one that was driving, you were even contemplating something called the “Clinton doctrine”.
And you were concerned about image. You were concerned about credit, which is not something that is unfamiliar to people in public life. But then I think something happened.
And my theory is that after Gadhafi’s death, and essentially, a victory lap, then I think your interest waned, and I think your attention waned. And I think the — the e-mails that Mrs. Brooks put forth, you had a — you had an answer, and that was, “look, I got a lot of information from a lot of different places.”
But I think you basically gave a victory lap — sort of a “mission accomplished” quote in October 30th, 2011 in the Washington Post. This is what you said, and this is very declarative. “We set into motion a policy that was on the right side of history, on the right side of our values, on the right side of our strategic interests in the region.”
It has all of the feel of a victory lap. But there was a problem. And the problem, Madam Secretary, was that there were storm clouds that were gathering. And the storm clouds that were gathering was a deteriorating security situation in Benghazi.
And you had a lot to lose if Benghazi unraveled. If Libya unraveled, you had a lot to lose, based on the — the victory lap, based on the Sunday shows, based on the favorable accolades that were coming.
If it went the wrong direction, it would be on you. And if it was stable and it was the right direction, you — you were the beneficiary of that.
So the question is, how is it possible that these urgent requests that came in — how did they not break through to the very upper levels of your inner circle? People who are here today, people who served you?
How did those requests from two ambassadors, Ambassador Cretz and Ambassador Stevens, that came in on these dates, June 7th, June — July 19th, August 2nd and March 28th, all of 2012 — how is it possible that those didn’t break through?
You told us that that wasn’t your job, basically. You said, “I’m not responsible.” But here’s my theory. I think that this is what was going on: that to admit a need for more security was to admit that there was a deteriorating situation. And to admit a deteriorating situation didn’t fit your narrative of a successful foreign policy. Where did I get that wrong?
CLINTON: Congressman, look, we knew that Libya’s transition from the brutal dictatorship of Gadhafi, which basically destroyed or undermined every institution in the country, would be challenging, and we planned accordingly.
We worked closely with the Libyan people, with our allies in Europe, with partners in the region, to make sure that — we tried to get positioned to help the Libyan people.
And yes, the volatile security environment in Libya complicated our efforts. But we absolutely — and I will speak for myself, I absolutely did not forget about Libya after Gadhafi fell.
CLINTON: We worked closely with the interim government, and we offered a wide range of technical assistance. We were very much involved in helping them provide their first parliamentary elections. That was quite an accomplishment.
A lot of other countries that were post-conflict did not have anything like the positive elections Libya did. In July of 2012, the transitional government handed over power to a new General National Congress in August. We were doing everything we could think of to help Libya succeed. We tried to bolster the effectiveness of the interim government. We worked very hard to get rid of the chemical weapons, coordinating with the transition Libyan authorities with the U.N. and others. And by February 2014, we had assisted in destroying the last of Gadhafi’s chemical weapons. We were combating the spread of shoulder — anti-aircraft shoulder-fired missiles, because of the danger that they posed to commercial aircraft. And we were providing assistance, some of which I discussed earlier with Congresswoman Roby. We had humanitarian assistance. We brought people for help to Europe, and for — and to the United States.
But much of what we offered, despite our best efforts, we had the prime minister come to Washington in the spring of 2012. Much of what we offered was difficult for the Libyans to understand how to accept.
I traveled, as you know, to Libya and met there. I stayed in close touch with Libya’s leaders throughout the rest of my time as secretary. Both of my deputies went there. We talked with the Libyan leadership frequently by phone from Washington and communicated regularly, as I have said, with our team based in Tripoli, and all of this was focused on trying to help stand up a new interim government. And we were making progress on de-militarization, demobilization, trying to reintegrate militia fighters into something resembling a security force, and on securing loose weapons.
I think it’s important to recognize. And of course I was ultimately responsibility for security. I took responsibility for what happened in Benghazi —
ROSKAM: What does that mean when you say, “I took responsibility?” When Mr. Westmoreland asked you that question you said, what, contracting and so forth. So when you say you are responsible for something, Madam Secretary, what does that mean? If you’re responsible, what action would you have done differently. What do you own as a result of this? So far I’ve heard since we’ve been together today, I’ve heard one dismissive thing after another. It was this group. It was that group. I wasn’t served by this. I wasn’t served by that. What did you do? What do you own?
CLINTON: Well, I was just telling you some of the many related issues I was working on to try to help the Libyan people make…
ROSKAM: What’s your responsibility to Benghazi? That’s my question?
CLINTON: Well, my responsibility was to be briefed and to discuss with the security experts and the policy experts whether we would have a post in Benghazi, whether we would continue it, whether we would make it permanent. And as I’ve said repeatedly throughout the day, no one ever recommended closing the post in Benghazi.
ROSKAM: No one recommended closing, but you had two ambassadors that made several, several requests, and here’s basically what happened to their requests. They were torn up. There were dismissed.
CLINTON: Well, that’s just not true, Congressman. I know —
ROSKAM: Madam secretary, they didn’t get through. It didn’t help them. Were those responded to? Is that your testimony today?
CLINTON: Many were responded to. There were affirmative responses to a number of requests for additional security…
ROSKAM: And you laid this on Chris Stevens, didn’t you?
CLINTON: And both…
ROSKAM: Because he said — you said earlier, “He knows where to pull the levers,” so aren’t you implying that it’s his responsibility to figure out how he is supposed to be secure, because Chris Stevens knows how to pull the levers? Is that your testimony?
CLINTON: Ambassadors are the ones who pass on security recommendations and requests. That’s true throughout the world.
ROSKAM: And when he does, and they’re not responded to what is his remedy if they’re not responded to? What is his remedy if it’s no?
CLINTON: As I testified earlier, he was in regular e-mail contact with some of my closest advisers.
ROSKAM: So hit resend, is that it?
CLINTON: He was in regular e-mail contact and cable contact with a…
ROSKAM: Cables didn’t get through. You created an environment, Madam Secretary, where the cables couldn’t get through, now —
CLINTON: Well, that is inaccurate, cables as we have testified — ROSKAM: They didn’t get through to you. They didn’t break into your inner circle. That was your testimony earlier. You can’t have it both ways, you can’t say all this information came in to me, and I was able to process it. And yet, it all — it all stops at the security professionals…
CLINTON: Well, that’s not what I — Congressman, that’s not that’s not what I was saying. I think we’ve tried to clarify that, you know, millions of cables come in, they’re — they’re processed and sent to the appropriate offices and personnel with respect to specific…
ROSKAM: They didn’t get through. They didn’t make any difference. They couldn’t break into the inner circle of decision- making.
Now, let me draw your attention, in closing, to testimony that you gave before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in January 2013. And you said some wonderful things about Ambassador Stevens, similar to what you said in your opening statement today. And they were words that were warm and inspirational, and reflecting on his bravery.
But I think in light of the facts that have come out since your testimony, and I think in light of things that the Committee has learned, he’s even braver than you acknowledged.
In January 2013, this is what you said to Congress, “Nobody knew the dangers or the opportunities better than Chris. During the first revolution and then 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, or go somewhere else. Because he understood that it was pivotal for America to be represented in that place at that time.”
Secretary Clinton, I think you should’ve added this: Chris Stevens kept faith with the State Department that I headed even when we broke faith with him. He accepted my invitation to serve in Benghazi even though he was denied the security we implored us to give him. I and my colleagues were distracted by other matters, and opportunities, and ambitions, we breached our fundamental duty to mitigate his danger and secure his safety. And that of Glenn Doherty, Sean Smith, and Tyrone Woods. That would be more accurate, wouldn’t you say, Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: Of course, I would not say that.
And I think that it’s a disservice for you to make that statement, Congressman. And it’s a…
ROSKAM: Who does it disserve?
CLINTON: Well, it is a disservice of how hard the people who are given the responsibility of making these tough security decisions…
ROSKAM: The people that were disciplined? Did they keep faith with Chris Stevens? No.
CLINTON: Well, Chris Stevens was someone who had a commitment to our presence in Libya…
ROSKAM: There’s no question.
CLINTON: … And we want to honor that by continuing…
ROSKAM: There is no question.
CLINTON: … To do what we can to support the Libyan people’s transition. It is very much, in my view, in America’s interest to continue to try to do so.
ROSKAM: I yield back.
GOWDY: The gentleman’s time has expired. The chair will now recognize the general lady from Illinois, Ms. Duckworth.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Madam Secretary, I just want to talk a little bit more about what has been done for Embassy Personnel Security, Diplomatic Personnel Security since then.
My understanding is in Benghazi, there were some security improvements that were made.
Could you talk about some of those? Both prior to the attacks as well as some other things that perhaps — you — sort of alluded to with more ventilation in the safe rooms, some of those things?
CLINTON: Yeah, there were a number of security improvements that were made to the facility. Again, there was emphasis on trying to buttress the outer walls, to try to, you know, create a more effective guard entrance.
There was an effort to try to make sure that the facility itself was hardened so that it could withstand attacks, if that came to pass.
It was in a series of decisions made by the security professionals in November of 2011, our people in Benghazi said they needed to hire additional local guards, money was approved that day.
In December of that year, they asked for money to buy jersey barriers. The funds were sent by the end the week.
In January of 2012, the RSO, meaning a Regional Security Officer requested that all personnel deploying to Tripoli and Benghazi for 30 days complete the Specialized Foreign Affairs Counter Threat training course, which was soon implemented.
Also, in January 2012, they asked for money for sandbags, security lights, steel door upgrades, Drop Arm (ph) reinforced car barriers. That was promptly sent.
Later that month, they were sent extra helmets, bullet proof vests, and a WMD Response equipment. In February of 2012, they requested support for a major renovation of the walls surrounding the complex, including making the walls higher, adding concertina wire, laying barbed wire.
That project was completed.
In March 2012, they asked to construct two extra guard positions.
That was completed.
In April 2012, they needed help from experts and technical security. And by May, a special team visited to enhance security equipment and security lighting.
In June 2012, following the IED incident, immediately a regional team was sent to enhance the perimeter, and additional funding was approved for more guards.
In July 2012, they said that they need a minimum of three American Security Officers in Benghazi. From then on through July, August and September they always had three, four or five American DS agents overseeing the expanded contingent of Libyan guards on site.
Those are just some of the requests and the affirmative responses, Congresswoman, that were provided specifically for Benghazi.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you.
We — we know that short of putting people in bunkers and never allowing them outside of embassy compounds, and — we’re going to have some sort of threat to our Diplomatic Personnel Security.
I mean, obviously, it was not enough.
What I’d like to know is, in light of that, what efforts have been put in to — to provide for Contingency Operations (ph), especially for known potentially volatile periods in the calendar year.
September 11th comes through every year. 2016, September 11th is probably going to be an especially volatile time period.
So, can you talk a little bit about would you have done, and what you put into place and any difficulties you may have come across in coordinating with the DoD, intelligence agencies, other — across the Government. Is there a…
I know this is not a secure room, so we — we can’t talk about things that are rated secret, but, you know September 11th is coming. Part of that week are we moving aircraft carriers nearby, are we putting and air wing on a 6 hour leash, with, you know, one lift of aircraft on a 2 hour leash? What are we doing? Do we have FAST teams and FEST teams gearing up ready to go? What is going on, in light of the lessons learned at Benghazi, and what did — what did you personally direct — to happen, especially at your level of inter- agency cooperation?
CLINTON: An excellent question, and really at the heart of what I hope will come out of this and the prior investigations.
In December of 2014, Assistant Secretary Starr from the State Department testified before the select committee that 25 of the 29 recommendations made by the ARB had been completed. And a September 2013 Inspector General’s Report noted that the ARB recommendations were made in a way that was quickly taken seriously, and that I took charge directly of oversight for the implementation process.
Here’s some examples, more Diplomatic Security and DoD personnel are on the ground at our facilities today. We have increased the skills and competency for our Diplomatic Security agents by increasing the training time in the High Threat (ph) course. We’ve expanded the Foreign Affairs Counter Threat course so that the skills are shared by not just the Diplomatic Security agents but people like Chris Stevens and Sean Smith, as well. We’ve also been working hard to up the inter-agency cooperation.
The Inter-Agency Security (ph) teams that you asked about earlier, Congresswoman, that’s a continuing commitment that we are working on.
And I know because of this terrible tragedy, DoD is much more focused on what needs to be thought through with respect to planning and reaction.
You know, we had problems in the past with the pastor from Florida, Terry Jones, inciting riots and protests that resulted in the deaths of people, including UN and others who were stationed in Afghanistan.
And — so we’re trying to stay in very close touch between the State Department and DoD.
In that case, Secretary Gates actually called him and asked him, please, not to get involved in what he was doing because it was dangerous to our troops and our civilians. Unfortunately, you know, he has a mind apparently of his own.
So we are trying to have a closer, coordinated planning and response effort.
With respect to your specific questions that are really within the purview of the Department of Defense, like the deployment of certain Navy vessels, air wings and the like, I think that DoD is trying hard to think about how particularly in north Africa and the Middle East, they can respond. Because, you know, one of the claims that was made that was — was proven to be untrue was that DOD withheld sending air support. And indeed, the closest air support that would have been in any way relevant was too far away.
So they’re trying to think about how they better deploy and station various — various assets so that they can have a quicker response time. I’ve not been involved intimately in this now for, you know, two years, more — I guess more than two years. So I can’t speak directly, but I know that this was part of the important work that was underway when I left.
DUCKWORTH: You spoke about — thank you — you spoke about you making personal phone calls to ask for help from the heads of local government. And you spoke a lot about the power of the chief of the mission, the trust that you put into these professionals that are there.
So when an embassy comes under attack, especially after this Benghazi attack, from this time forward, do ambassadors, do they need to call you to ask for help from other agencies of the U.S. government? Or do they have the ability if there’s a DOD — if there is a CIA or DOD force nearby, a Marine FAST team for example, can the ambassador — does the ambassador have to come through security, or do they need to call you to have you call for that? How does that work?
CLINTON: No, and there’s an example out of the Benghazi attack. There was a preexisting understanding between the diplomatic compound and the CIA annex. And there was no need for anybody at the compound to call Washington to alert the CIA annex. They immediately contacted the CIA annex. And, you know, they sprang into action to try to come to the assistance of our team at the compound.
So, there’s — we’re trying to have more preexisting arrangements like that, and that goes to your question. If there are assets in the region, how do we plan for contingencies so that they can be immediately triggered and try to respond. You know, I obviously spoke to the White House. I spoke to General Petraeus. I spoke to, you know, lots of other people that evening trying to get whatever help we could get. We did get a surveillance plane above the location, but it took some time to get there. It had to be diverted.
DUCKWORTH: I’m sorry. It was an unarmed drone. Correct?
CLINTON: Yes, it was unarmed. It was an unarmed…
CLINTON: … yes, UAV. Right. So, we — we asked for everything we could get, and everybody immediately tried to provide it. But I think now there’s more awareness that maybe we should be doing these scenarios ahead of time to try to figure out what could be done without having to, you know, reinvent it every time.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you.
I’m out of time, Mr. Chairman.
GOWDY: I thank the gentlelady from Illinois.
The chair would now recognize the gentlewoman from Indiana.
BROOKS: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
I’m going to follow up on what the congresswoman from Illinois is discussing, which is facility — and I appreciate the laundry list that you just listed with respect to the security improvements or whatever happened with respect to Benghazi.
But I have to ask you if you’re familiar with the fact that in the wake of the 1998 bombing attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Congress passed something referred to as SECCA — the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act, which requires the secretary of state to issue a waiver if, under two conditions, if U.S. government personnel work in separate facilities; or if U.S. overseas facilities do not meet the security setback distances specified by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
The law specifies that only the secretary of state may sign these waivers and that requirement is not to be delegated. Was a waiver issued for the temporary mission in Benghazi and the CIA annex after the temporary mission compound was authorized through December of 2012? And did you sign that waiver, Madam Secretary?
CLINTON: I think that the CIA annex, I had no responsibility for. So I cannot speak to what the decisions were with respect to the CIA annex. That is something that I know other committees have…
BROOKS: But you acknowledge you were responsible for the temporary mission compound?
CLINTON: Yes, of course. But you put them together and I just wanted to clarify that I had no responsibility for the CIA annex, obviously.
The compound in Benghazi was neither an embassy nor a consulate. Those are the only two facilities for which we would obtain a formal diplomatic notification. And those were the only kinds of facilities that we would have sought waivers for at the time because we were trying to, as has been testified to earlier, understand whether we were going to have a permanent mission or not.
That means you have to survey available facilities, try to find a secure facility. And the standards that are set by the Interagency Overseas Security Policy Board are the goals we try to drive for. But it is — it is very difficult, if not impossible, to do that in the immediate aftermath of a conflict situation.
The temporary mission in Benghazi was set up to try to find out what was going on in the area; to work with the CIA where appropriate; and to make a decision as to whether there would be a permanent facility. So, we could not have met the goals under the Overseas Security Policy Board, nor would we have issued a waiver because we had to set up operations in order to make the assessments as to whether or not we would have a permanent mission; whether that mission would remain open. And we made extensive and constant improvements to the physical security, some of which I’ve mentioned before.
BROOKS: Madam Secretary, thank you.
So it is obvious that a waiver was not signed and you’ve given a defense as to why a waiver was not signed. And it was temporary because it was made up. It was something different. The compound was — had never become official. And so therefore, you did not sign a waiver, which when most of our people are stationed in such dangerous places, let me get into that with respect to the dangerous places.
We know that Libya, you’ve testified before, was incapable of providing host nation support. And that involves protecting our diplomats and other U.S. government officials who travel there. So if the Libyan people didn’t have a government capable of providing security, and we didn’t have U.S. military in Libya, then we have two options. We either leave when it gets too dangerous, or the State Department makes sure that they provide that protection.
And I want to just chat with you a little bit about the fact that when Ambassador Stevens returned there in late May, 2012 after being named the ambassador. Less than four months later, he was killed. But the number of violent attacks that occurred during that summer are off the charts. They’re against westerners.
I’d like you to refer to tab six. It is a 51-page document prepared by your head security guy in Libya, for security incidents — serious security incidents between June 2011 and July 2012; 51 pages long, 235 significant security incidents; 235 attacks in one year. In Benghazi, there were 77 serious attacks in one year; 64 in 2012.
Now, let me just tell you, as I flip through this, and I’m not talking Benghazi. As I showed earlier, it is a large city, about the size of D.C. or Boston. I’m talking about violent attacks like everyday robberies, burglaries, holdups. I’m talking about assassination attempts and assassinations, bombings, kidnappings, attacks on the Red Cross. The Red Cross gave up and pulled out — the people who always go in when disaster strikes, they pulled out. That doesn’t include 20 other major incidents — bombings on police departments, the courts.
Think about this. If you’re in the city of Washington, D.C. or Boston, and we’re now over in Benghazi, and all of these types of bombings are happening and these security incidents are happening. There are hundreds more actually I could talk with you about, but frankly I don’t have time.
I hope I’ve painted the picture because I’m baffled. You sent Chris Stevens to Libya and to Benghazi. And granted, he never raised the flag and said, “I want out.” And granted, he never said, “Shut down Benghazi.” And I understand and appreciate that you deferred to him, but you also, Madam Secretary — we have no record of you ever talking to him, that — you never talked to him personally after May of 2012 when you swore him in as our ambassador.
Am I wrong? Did you ever talk to Ambassador Stevens when all of this was going on in the hotbed of Libya?
BROOKS: That is a yes or no question, Madam Secretary. I’m sorry. Did you ever personally speak to Ambassador Stevens after — we don’t know the answer. Did you ever personally speak to him after you swore him in in May?
CLINTON: …I believe…
BROOKS: Yes or no, please.
CLINTON: …yes, I believe I did. But I…
BROOKS: And when was that?
CLINTON: …I — I don’t recall. And I want to clarify for the record that this document is about all of Libya, not just Benghazi.
BROOKS: Absolutely (ph).
CLINTON: I don’t want anybody to be…
BROOKS: No, 77 are about Benghazi.
CLINTON: …misled, and — you know, Congresswoman, look.
I appreciate — and — and I really do — the — the passion and the intensity of your feelings about this. We have diplomatic facilities in war zones. We have ambassadors that we send to places that have been bombed and attacked all the time.
BROOKS: And you’re their boss.
CLINTON: I — you’re right.
BROOKS: Is that correct?
CLINTON: You’re right, I am. And we…
BROOKS: And you’re their leader. Is that correct?
And is there — are there ever situations where you call them, where you bring them in, where you are personally caring and concerned, and are letting them know that? Are — are there situations where you recall — and I’d like to know what the conversation was with Ambassador Stevens, and what month it was, with Ambassador Stevens.
Because there are no call logs with him. There’s nothing from the ops center with him that we have found. We have no record that you had any conversations with the ambassador after you swore him in and before he died, and you were his boss.
CLINTON: I was the boss of ambassadors in 270 countries. I was the boss of ambassadors in places like Afghanistan, where, shortly before I visited one time, the embassy had been under brutal assault by the Taliban for hours.
I am very well aware of the dangers that are faced by our diplomats and our development professionals. There was never a recommendation from Chris Stevens or anyone else to close Benghazi. Now, sitting here in the comfort of this large, beautiful hearing room, it’s easy to say, “well, there should have been. Somebody should have stood up and said, do that.”
But that was not the case. And it is a very difficult choice with respect to any of these facilities, given the level of threat and instability that we confront around the world today.
And it’s deeply, deeply distressing when any of our facilities or our personnel are in danger. And we do, and have done, the best we can, and I think we can do better, which is why I implemented all of the ARB’s recommendations, which we have barely talked about.
And — but those were…
BROOKS: Madam Secretary.
CLINTON: …those were essential in trying to improve and better position and prepare and respond. And that’s what we tried to do.
And — you know, I — I find it — you know, deeply — you know, saddening, because obviously everyone — everyone who knew him, everyone who worked with him, including Libyans, as I said at the very beginning, would have given anything to prevent this from happening. Our security professionals usually, in fact more than — 99-plus percent of the time, get it right.
BROOKS: And Madam Secretary, if we would have given anything, had you talked to him in July, he would have told you that he had asked to keep the security in Libya that he had. He was told no by your State Department. We didn’t give hem everything.
Thank you. I yield back.
GOWDY: The gentlelady is out of time. The witness may answer the question if she’d like to.
CLINTON: Well, it’s the same answer I’ve been giving all day. Chris Stevens had an opportunity to reach me directly any time he thought there was something of importance.
The people with whom he worked — the people who were around him and with him — they very well understood the dangers that they were confronting, and they did the best they could under the circumstances and many of the security requests, as I just detailed, were agreed to. Others weren’t.
GOWDY: Gentlelady from California is recognized.
SANCHEZ: Thank you.
Madam Secretary, I want to begin by thanking you for your patience and your endurance during today’s hearing. It’s been quite a long day.
And I also want to begin by apologizing for my Republican colleagues, who apparently either want to write your answers for you or testify for you, because I think it fits in better with their outlandish narratives of what happened.
And since they insist on criticizing you for not doing anything right, I want to talk to you a little bit more about a line of questioning that we pursued in the first round of questions.
I asked you a little bit about what you were doing the night of the attacks in Benghazi, and I want to just continue that a little bit more. Now, you said previously that you had spoken with the White House that evening, with the CIA, the Defense Department and the State Department.
You also spoke directly with people on the ground at the embassy in Tripoli that night at around 7 p.m, and I can tell from the documents that we’ve seen that you’ve asked — you asked to speak with deputy chief of mission in tripoli.
Can you explain the purpose of that call and why you felt that was important?
CLINTON: Well, for a number of reasons. They were a source of information. They had their own sources on the ground that they were reaching out to, trying to gather additional insight into what happened, what provoked it, who was behind it.
But much more importantly even than that, they were in a great state of dismay and grief. And I thought it was important to speak with our team in Tripoli directly so that they knew that we were trying as best we could from so far away to help them and to help their colleagues.
We also had pushed to have a — an additional team of security officers fly from Tripoli, and really, the embassy in Tripoli just took that on. They, in fact, probably came up with the idea and put it together and got the plane and sent more help on the way to Benghazi.
But it was a very personal conversation between me and those who were in our embassy. This is a place that I had spent a lot of time and paid a lot of attention to, as I said earlier. We had to evacuate the embassy before, while Gadhafi was still in power.
I talked to those people in our embassy family as they were on the ferry going from Tripoli back to Malta. So we tried to — you know, engage with, listen to and support our teams when they were facing these very difficult circumstances.
SANCHEZ: Now this committee has interviewed your staff that was with you that evening of the attacks. Your chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and your deputy chief of staff, Jake Sullivan.
And they explained that you personally participated in a secure video teleconference with senior officials from the intelligence community, the White House and the Department of Defense. Your chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, told the committee that your attendance at the deputy’s (ph) level meeting broke with protocol and surprised other attendees, but that you simply said, quote, “these are our people on the ground; where else would I be?”
Why did did you think that it was important for you to participate personally in that deputy’s committee meeting?
CLINTON: The people who were on that civets (ph) were part of the operational decision-making, and I wanted to know firsthand from them what they were trying to do to help us, particularly DOD.
Also the intelligence community, because at that time, as I recall, the CIA annex had not yet come under attack, and we were trying to get all Americans out of Benghazi. We were trying to provide planes for evacuation.
So there was a lot of detail that was being worked out, and I wanted to be as hands-on as I could be to know, number one, what all the other agencies were doing to help us, and what we could do to try to assist them in their efforts to get to Benghazi and do whatever was possible.
SANCHEZ: Were the participants surprised by your visit on the — on the (inaudible)?
CLINTON: Apparently they were, because they weren’t expecting me to walk into the — into the room and sit down at the table.
SANCHEZ: Do you think that your appearance on that teleconference conveyed to them how seriously you were taking the attacks and the response to the attacks?
CLINTON: I’m sure it did, Congresswoman. But we’d been sounding the alarm and reaching out for several hours by then. And we were getting a very positive response from everyone. I knew…
SANCHEZ: From the Defense Department?
CLINTON: Yes, the Defense Department. The CIA. Obviously the White House was deeply involved in if reaching out and coordinating with us. So we knew people were trying to help. There was never, ever any doubt about that.
I just wanted to hear firsthand about their assessments of what they could do. Could anybody get there in time? How were we going to evacuate the Americans? And we were also still unsure of where our ambassador was, which made all of this be incredibly difficult for everybody in the State Department. We didn’t know where he was. We didn’t know whether he was alive. And it was shortly after that in the evening when we found out that he was not.
SANCHEZ: Your chief of staff also explained to this committee that you were concerned the night of the attacks, not only form the safety of your team in Benghazi, but also about your teams in Tripoli and elsewhere. She said this about you. Quote: “She was very concerned. She was also very determined that whatever needed to be done was done and she was worried. She was worried not only about our team on the ground in Benghazi, but worried about our teams that were on the ground in Libya and our teams on the ground in a number of places given what we had seen unfold in Egypt.”
Can you explain some of the context of the evening and why you were concerned, not just about what was happening in Benghazi, but the risks that Americans were in elsewhere?
CLINTON: Well, that’s exactly right. I was quite concerned about Tripoli because we didn’t know if there would be coordinated attacks. We were still trying to gather information about who was behind what happened in Benghazi. We — in the course of the conversations with our team on the ground in Tripoli began to explore whether they should move from where they were in the place that was operating as our embassy at that time to a more secure location. There were lots of considerations about what to do to keep our team in Tripoli safe.
And then as I’ve testified earlier, we were very concerned about the impact of the video sparking unrest, attacks, violence in a wide swathe of countries. It turned out that that was well-founded concern, as we saw the attacks and protests across the region, all the way to India and Indonesia.
So there was a lot of effort being put into not only doing the immediate tasks before us in Benghazi, and doing whatever we needed to do to keep our people in Tripoli safe, but beginning to talk through and prepare for what might happen elsewhere.
SANCHEZ: I want to switch line of questioning for just a second. I’ve got a couple minutes left. Following the attacks on Benghazi, but before the Accountability Review Board completed its work, you did a number of things to evaluate and improve security at overseas posted. And this is even before the ARB had finished its investigation and issued its finding and recommendations. I know you’ve mentioned them multiple times today, but some of my colleagues appear to have amnesia about what you really accomplished.
So can you tell me about some of the steps that you took to implement in the State Department even before the the ARB completed its work?
CLINTON: Well, although the ARB had not completed its own investigation, clearly in the aftermath of Benghazi, we were doing our own evaluation of what had happened, what we knew about these circumstances and what we needed to do to try to get ahead of any other potential problems.
One of the decisions that I made and discussed with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta was how we could get more assistance from the Department of Defense, and in particular we sent out teams to the high-threat posts that we had to get evaluations from those on the ground so that we would have a better idea of where there might be necessary upgrades to security that we could immediately try to act upon. So we did begin a conversation with the department of defense which — I think it’s fair to say, and as Admiral Mullen himself testified — sees the scope of the American diplomatic presence as beyond the capacity of the Defense Department to be responsive to.
CLINTON: So we had to begin to, first, look at the high-threat posts. Then we had to take the second layer about those that we think could be come more dangerous going forward, and really begin this process. Which, as I told Congresswoman Duckworth, I’m confident is still continuing because, you know, we — we can’t get behind the curve in being able to predict where there might be problems in the future.
We had a perfect example of that in — in Yemen. You know, we kept the embassy open in Sanaa under some very difficult and dangerous circumstances for a very long time. We even moved it physically to a more well-defensed position. Thankfully, we have not had incidents resulting in American diplomats being killed, but it was a constant challenge to us. And there are many other examples, like the one that Congressman Smith has raised twice, Peshawar, which is an incredibly dangerous high-threat post.
So, what we tried to do is to close as best we could the relationship between State and DOD, so wherever DOD could help us, they would be prepared to factor that into their planning. I was very grateful for their responsiveness.
SANCHEZ: We’re grateful for yours. Thank you very much.
I yield back.
GOWDY: The gentlelady yields back.
The chair would now recognize the gentlelady from Alabama, Ms. Roby.
ROBY: Secretary Clinton, I want to follow up on the questions about the night of the attack and decisions made then. You wrote in your book,”Hard Choices,” that you were directing the State Department response the night of September 11th, 2012, but you also stated that you left your office on the night of the attack and went to your home in northwest Washington because you said you knew the next few days were going to be taxing and the department was going to be looking to you.
I want to talk about a few things. Do you have a skiff (ph) in your home?
CLINTON: Yes, I did.
ROBY: OK. And who else was at your home? Were you alone?
CLINTON: I was alone, yes.
ROBY: The whole night?
CLINTON: Yes, the whole night.
ROBY: I don’t know why that’s funny. I mean, did you have any in-person briefings? I don’t find it funny at all.
CLINTON: I’m sorry — a little note of levity at 7:15, noted for the record.
ROBY: Well, I mean, the reason I say it’s not funny is because it well into the night when our folks on the ground were still in danger. So I don’t think it’s funny to ask you if you were alone the whole night.
CLINTON: Well, Congresswoman, you asked if I had a skiff. I had secure phones. I had other equipment that kept me in touch with the State Department at all times. I did not sleep all night. I was very much focused on what we were doing.
ROBY: Who was at your office when you left? Was Cheryl Mills, your chief of staff, still at the office when you left?
CLINTON: I don’t remember. I know that a lot of my staff were there.
ROBY: I’m going to go through and name them. We’ll see if you remember.
Jake Sullivan, was he still there?
CLINTON: When — yes, they were all there when I left. They were all there.
ROBY: OK. Victoria Nuland was there when you left?
CLINTON: When I — when I left, everyone was there.
ROBY: Philip Ranas (ph) was there?
CLINTON: I can — all I — I can give you a blanket answer. When I left…
ROBY: No, I’m going to ask specifics.
Was Patrick Kennedy there?
CLINTON: I’m sure he was.
ROBY: Was Philip Ranas (ph) there?
CLINTON: I don’t know. I don’t know whether he was.
ROBY: How about Stephen Mull?
CLINTON: I’m sure that the core team at the State Department was still there.
ROBY: Beth Jones? CLINTON: I’m sure she was.
ROBY: And Bill Burns and Thomas Nides?
CLINTON: I have no specific recollection of any of the names you’ve given me, because when I left, I knew I would stay in touch and I do not know how long anybody else stayed at the State Department.
ROBY: What — what time did you learn that Sean Smith had died?
CLINTON: That was earlier in the evening.
ROBY: So that was before you left.
ROBY: OK. And then what about Ambassador Stevens? Was that before?
CLINTON: It was before I left.
ROBY: OK. And then what about his confirmation of his death — before or after you left?
CLINTON: We — we knew that, yes.
ROBY: OK. And what about the recovery of his body? Was that before or after you left?
CLINTON: We — we got word that we had a sighting of…
CLINTON: Well, I’m trying to tell you what we — what we knew and how we found out, because it — it was something that we were trying to determine and we had mixed signals about what we learned. And it was our understanding, and certainly by the time I left, that he was most likely not alive. But I’m not sure exactly when we were able to confirm that because it — it depended upon getting first-hand information from a Libyan contact.
ROBY: OK. Where were you when you learned of the second attack? Were you at home or at the office?
CLINTON: I was at home.
ROBY: And did you go back to the State Department when you learned about the second attack? Or did you stay home?
CLINTON: I stayed home. I went to the State Department early in the morning. The CIA annex attack, as I recall, was, you know, late in the evening, early the next morning by our time, around five a.m. or so in Benghazi.
ROBY: Did you meet with the president that night?
CLINTON: I talked with the president. I did not meet with him.
ROBY: How many times did you talk to the president?
CLINTON: I talked to the president that evening. That was the only time I talked with him on the 11th. And then I went over to the White House the next morning.
ROBY: So, once. And do you recall what time you spoke to the president? You said that evening. Do you recall more specifically what time?
CLINTON: I think it was late in the evening. I don’t know exactly when.
ROBY: What did you discuss?
CLINTON: I’m sorry? What?
ROBY: What specifically did you discuss with the president?
CLINTON: Well, I don’t usually talk about my discussions with the president, but I can tell you we talked about what had happened during the day. I thanked him for his very strong support because he made it absolutely clear that everyone was supposed to be doing all they could, particularly DOD, to assist us wherever possible. And I’m sure I thanked him for that.
ROBY: What did he say to you?
CLINTON: Again, I don’t talk about the conversations I have with the president. We talked about the events of the day and his determination to do everything he could to try to help our people in Benghazi.
ROBY: Did you meet with Secretary Panetta?
CLINTON: No, I did not.
ROBY: Did you speak to Secretary Panetta?
CLINTON: The next day.
ROBY: Not on the 11th?
ROBY: OK. Did you talk with General Dempsey?
CLINTON: The next morning, I did.
ROBY: So you did not meet with him or talk with him on the 11th?
CLINTON: Congresswoman, it wasn’t necessary. Everybody was doing everything they could think of to do. It’s one of the reasons I sat in on the civets (ph).
ROBY: I’m just trying to figure out if you did or you didn’t.
CLINTON: Well, I’m telling you. I sat in the civets (ph) that Congresswoman Sanchez was asking me about because I wanted to talk to the operational people and they were represented on that civets (ph). They were the ones who were carrying out the orders that they received from the president on down.
ROBY: What about Petraeus? When did you speak to him?
CLINTON: I spoke to Petraeus that afternoon, because I knew that we had an agreement with the CIA annex, and I spoke with him about an hour after finding out about the attack and after gathering information about what we thought was happening in Benghazi.
ROBY: Did you — your surviving agents were evacuated to Tripoli the morning of the 12th. Did you talk to the survivors either that night or once they arrived in Tripoli?
CLINTON: We did not speak to them directly. We obviously made arrangements for them to be safely evacuated, and then to be transported to a hospital facility that we thought was safe from any potential attacks.
ROBY: Did you talk to them the next day?
ROBY: Did you talk to them later that week?
CLINTON: No, I did not.
ROBY: Did you talk to them when they first got back to the United States?
CLINTON: I did not talk to them until they had had an opportunity to be debriefed and to provide information that would help us understand what happened; help the intelligence community and help the FBI as they were trying to build their case.
ROBY: How would it have harmed the case that they were trying to build for you, secretary of state, just to check in on their well being?
CLINTON: I did check on their well being.
ROBY: No, personally.
CLINTON: Well, I did personally talk with the people who were taking care of them, transporting them…
ROBY: Again, the survivors — when did you talk to the survivors?
CLINTON: I talked to the survivors when they came back to the United States. And one who was for many months in Walter Reed on the telephone. ROBY: OK.
ROBY: (inaudible) Panetta and Dempsey, you have stated that they were the decision-makers. But you never spoke to them while your people were on the ground.
CLINTON: I’m sorry…
ROBY: I want to make sure this is clear. Panetta and Dempsey were the decision-makers when it came to response. We’ve already talked about the FEST. So I’m not going to get back into that. But what I’m trying to clarify is that they were the decision-makers. Your people were on the ground in harm’s way and you never had a conversation with them.
CLINTON: I did not need to. During the turmoil of that afternoon and into the evening, we knew the president had personally told them both in the Oval Office that he expected them to do everything they possibly could do.
And I knew that they would then turn to those officers responsible for carrying out that order. They were represented on that SVTS. That’s why I sat in it.
And remember, too, Congresswoman, we had a lot of other threats coming in. We were still worried about Cairo. We had…
ROBY: Well, I understand. But you had your people on the ground that were being attacked.
I want to get back to the survivors in the little time I have left. Did you talk to the survivors directly at all at any point?
CLINTON: Yes, I did.
ROBY: Can you tell us when?
CLINTON: It was kind of a rolling series of conversations. When they came back to the State Department, I met with and talked with them, as you know, their names have never been made public. I don’t intend to today.
ROBY: Can you give me a month?
CLINTON: I’m sorry, what?
ROBY: A month?
CLINTON: It was — for some of them it was less time than that. And for one of them, I did not — I talked with him on the phone, I did not get to physically see him until he had been released from the hospital, and that was early in 2013.
ROBY: I think, Mr. Chairman, there’s two messages here. I think the first message is that — is the message that you sent to your personnel the night of the attack that you went home. They all stayed there and you didn’t go back until the next morning.
I think the second message that is sent is that you used the FBI’s inquiry as an excuse not to check in with your agents who were on the ground who survived that horrible night just to ask them how they were.
And I yield back.
CLINTON: Well, if I could respond, Congresswoman, I think that again is part of a theory that you and your colleagues are attempting to weave.
It was made very clear that the FBI wanted a fresh and clean opportunity to speak with the survivors, which I totally understand. And in fact their investigation has led to the charging of at least one person, and I hope we find all of them and bring them to justice.
GOWDY: Gentlelady yields back.
The gentleman from Washington is recognized.
SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to start by pointing out that at this point Secretary Clinton has testified here for longer than she did in the previous two testimonies on this subject combined. We’ve been here now for nine- and-a-half-hours, and the questions are increasingly badgering, I would even go on to say increasingly vicious.
And again, we’re hoping to elicit information that will help us, you know, learn what happened and learn how to prevent future attacks. And it seems to me that really what the majority is doing, that they simply wish to wear you down.
And, you know, hopefully get you to say something that they can then later use. I just — I don’t see the utility of that. When the chairman returns, I’d be curious as to if we just plan on going all night, continuing to badger the witness, or if there is in fact and end point to this.
Because I don’t think it is fair to the witness to, you know, have to sit there for that long and go over intimate details. I mean, I guess we learned whether or not you had a fax machine. So I guess that was useful.
But, you know, did you talk to this person, did you talk to that person, was this person there, was the other person there. And let me just say, I’m very impressed by the number of answers you have and by the memory you have of all the details of this event, but I hope we will consider how much longer we’re going to continue to do this.
And as to the last line of questioning, I mean, to imply that you didn’t care about your personnel, how many countries — how many different embassies, different consulates did you visit during your time as secretary of state, roughly? I know you don’t know that off the top of your head.
CLINTON: Well, at least 112. And I think more than that because I sometimes visited the embassy itself plus a consulate in a country that I was in.
SMITH: And can you give us a flavor — I know you went at one point to the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo because I have an interest in that area, which is a very dangerous place to be. Can you give us a flavor for some of the places where you visited your personnel?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I did go to the Democratic Republic of Congo. I went to eastern Congo because of the horrific violence there and the particularly unstable situation in that region.
I obviously went to Yemen. And I have made many trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan. And had the opportunity to visit our diplomats and our development experts in dangerous places.
One of the places that is particularly hard now is Iraq. And it was hard then. Egypt during the revolution was very challenging. And there I came under giant protests against the United States, against me personally.
On a visit to the consulate in Alexandria, my team was pelted with tomatoes and shoes and other insults hurled at us, which put a lot of pressure on the Diplomatic Security.
I obviously went to Tunis and worked hard to help support Tunisia. And they, as of now, seem as though they are working toward some kind of resolution. I visited Beirut. I was in Jordan and in Turkey numerous times during the uprising against Syria.
So I think that it’s a long list and it’s, by no means, a complete one.
SMITH: Thank you.
And let me just say that the line of questioning recently has been basically implying that you don’t care. OK? There’s no other way to interpret what we just heard, is to say, oh, you didn’t make this phone call, you didn’t talk — well, what month, what day, what time? You know, did you really care? Did you visit them three times or just two? OK?
The line of questioning is implying that you don’t care. And there are two things that are troubling about that. First of all, you do or you wouldn’t be doing this. Or you wouldn’t be representing the people that you do and doing the jobs that you did.
But second of all, whether or not you care has nothing to do with learning what happened in Benghazi and how to solve the problem. So all the while — and I was chastised last time for claiming that the majority was trying to be partisan, you know, then we got a recitation of your political back and forth about how to talk about, you know, who should get credit for Libya, you know, being chastised for that.
But it is clear that they are trying to attack you personally. And I really wish that we could focus on the issues instead of that. But to get into that level of questioning, I think is not helpful to this committee. It’s not even helpful to the Republicans, for that matter.
It’s clear that you care. And I’ll simply go back to where we’ve been a couple of times. Tell us again how many embassies do we have in the world?
CLINTON: More than 270 countries we’re represented in.
SMITH: Right. And on some level, the secretary of state, Secretary Kerry now, you before, is responsible for all of them.
CLINTON: That’s right.
SMITH: And how many personnel roughly?
CLINTON: Seventy thousand, between the State Department and USAID.
SMITH: And you’re responsible for all of them as well.
CLINTON: That’s true, Congressman.
SMITH: Can any human being on face of the planet protect every single one of them every second of every day?
SMITH: That’s a rhetorical question.
CLINTON: We can try. We can try.
And, Congressman, we have, as I just said, 270 consulates and embassies. We are represented in 194 countries. Some of them are very friendly to us, some of them are our adversaries.
But I do want to pick up on the point you’re making because I really appreciate it very much, Congressman.
I care very deeply about the people who serve our country. I worked with them. I knew them. I saw them in action. On my last full day as secretary of state, we were able to hold a ceremony awarding the five Diplomatic Security agents the highest award for heroism that the State Department has to offer.
We held it then because we wanted to be sure that the fifth man could be there because he had been in the hospital for so long. And he was able to be there. I got a chance to meet their families. I got a chance all at once, not just individually, but all together to thank them and commend them for their heroism.
And I’ll tell you, the agent who had been in the hospital all those months, as I was leaving he called me over and he said, Secretary, please do everything you can to make sure I get to go back in the field.
And I told him I would. And it was one of the requests I made on the way out the door. He was determined to go back to do what he could to protect our diplomats, to protect you when you travel. And I was so struck then, as I had been so many times before, about the quality and the integrity and the courage of those Americans who serve us, whether in uniform or out. I care very deeply about each and every one of them.
SMITH: Thank you. And one other point to make. Do — do you happen to know where the CIA Director, General Petraeus, was when the second attack happened on the CIA and where he went?
CLINTON: No, I do not. I don’t know where he was when I reached him and spoke with him.
SMITH: He was home operating out of a skiff. And after the attack he continued to operate out of that skiff.
Which again, is why this would be a far more productive investigation if we actually had the CIA Director and DoD instead of trying to pick apart every single solitary thing you’ve said or did during the course of this — sometimes even going before and after that.
If we actually were trying to get to the truth of this, we would have a broader array of people to talk to, so that we could get there, instead of picking you apart at every — every conceivable turn.
You know, we’ve — we’ve gone back and forth. I just want to make — make one other point.
Congressman Jordan, you know, I like you, I have a great deal of respect for you, but this whole going back twice now to the some have implied that this was because of a video, somehow you just substitute the word “some” for “I,” and think that there’s no difference, whatsoever, in that sentence. And that’s — that’s mind boggling.
I mean, and to badger over, and over, and over again. Why did you say it was because of the video? Well, I didn’t.
Why did you say it was because of the video? Well, I didn’t.
Why did you say it was because of the video? You know?
I guess this could go on for another six or seven hours, but I think we all understand the English language. And when you say some have implied, that means — well, I guess that means that some have implied. Some others have implied.
So, you know, it’s just — very frustrating.
I served on the Armed Services Committee with Mac Thornberry (ph), who’s the Chairman of that committee, and we disagree about a heck of a lot, but, you know, we have great arguments in that committee. But it never, ever comes close to descending to this level.
Congress can, in fact, function. The House Armed Services Committee, under Buck McKeon’s (ph) leadership before him, under Mac Thornberry’s leadership now, and all of the members of that committee. They aggressively question administrative witnesses. And I’ve seen it. And we’ve gone back and forth and done it.
But there is always an element of respect for the fact that we are all doing a very difficult job. You know? And anyone across this dais who’s been in a tough campaign knows what it’s like to have every single thing you say, every single thing you do, every look that is on your face, everything that you wear picked apart.
It’s not helpful. It’s not helpful to the American public, and it’s not helpful to the political process and it is damn sure not helpful to the people who died in Benghazi. Or to their families.
So I hope we can do better, and I hope that we can be done with the repetitive badgering after nine and a half hours. And I thank you for putting up with it for that long and for your service.
GOWDY: Gentleman yields back. The Chairman now recognizes the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Jordan.
JORDAN: Secretary Clinton, to get to the truth about Benghazi we need the complete record. Your e-mails are part of the record, and we believe the record might be incomplete. In part, because your version of events surrounding your e-mail situation keeps changing.
Last month, on September 20th you said, “I’m being as transparent as possible, more transparent than anybody else ever has been.”
You didn’t say more transparent than anybody. You said, more transparent than anybody else ever.
Now, my definition of transparency includes being honest and straight forward. And being honest and straight forward right from the start, right from the get-go. So let’s look at a few things that you said here in the last few months.
On March 10th, you said this — you provided all work related e- mails, erring on the side of anything that might be a federal record. In September, you revised that statement, and you said Mr. Blumenthal had some e-mails that you didn’t.
Of course, the revised statement was after we interviewed Mr. Blumenthal about Benghazi and found out that we didn’t receive from you and the State Department the same information we received from him.
In March, you said it was your practice to e-mail government officials on their .gov accounts. Later, you revised that statement and you said there was a fraction of e-mails with work-related information sent to government officials on their personal accounts.
SMITH: I’m sorry, what does this have to do with what happened in Benghazi?
JORDAN: Of course…
SMITH: When are we going to get there?
GOWDY: The gentleman is not recognized. The gentleman from Ohio controls the time.
JORDAN: This is — and it has everything to do, because we want the record, so we can get to the truth, and maybe if the gentleman — if the gentleman from Washington would have shown up for more than just one hour of one interview, he might know a little more about the situation as well, and the lack of getting the record.
Of course, this second statement, the revised statement, was after this committee had contacted Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, Philippe Reines, asking for their personal accounts, which of course you knew would mean we would get their e-mails.
And that first statement in March was not accurate. In March, you said no classified information was sent or received on your personal accounts. You later revised your statement and said no information marked classified was sent or received on your personal account.
And once again, your revised statement was after the inspector general for the intelligence community had examined your e-mails and determined that, yes, some indeed were classified.
Secretary Clinton, seems like there’s a pattern, pattern of changing your story. In March you say one thing, the truth comes out, weeks and months later, you say something else.
That’s not being the most transparent person ever. That’s not even being transparent.
So if your story about your e-mails keeps changing, then how can we accept your statement that you’ve turned over all work related e- mails and all e-mails about Libya?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I have said repeatedly that I take responsibility for my use of personal e-mail. I’ve said it was a mistake. I’ve said that it was allowed, but it was not a good choice.
When I got to the department, we were faced with a global financial crisis, major troop decisions on Afghanistan, the imperative to rebuild our alliances in Europe and Asia, an ongoing war in Iraq, and so much else.
E-mail was not my primary means of communication, as I have said earlier. I did not have a computer on my desk. I’ve described how I did work: in meetings, secure and unsecured phone calls, reviewing many, many pages of materials every day, attending…
JORDAN: I — I — I appreciate (inaudible).
HILLARY: …a great deal of meetings, and I provided the department, which has been providing you, with all of my work-related e-mails, all that I had. Approximately 55,000 pages. And they are being publicly released. JORDAN: I appreciate — let — and let’s get into that.
Those 55,000 pages, there were 62,00 e-mails — total e-mails, on your system. You have stated that you used a multi-step process to determine which ones were private, which ones were public, which ones belonged to you and your family, which ones belonged to the taxpayer.
Who oversaw this multi-step process in making that determination which ones we might get and which ones that were personal?
CLINTON: That was overseen by my attorneys and they conducted a rigorous review of my e-mails and…
JORDAN: These are the folks sitting behind you there, Mr. Kendall, Ms. Mills…
CLINTON: Yes, that’s right.
JORDAN: …Ms. Danielsen (ph)? All right.
And you said rigorous. What does that mean?
CLINTON: It means that they were asked to provide anything that could be possibly construed as work related. In fact, in my opinion — and that’s been confirmed by both the State Department…
JORDAN: But I’m asking how — I’m asking how it was done. Was — did someone physically look at the 62,000 e-mails, or did you use search terms, date parameters? I want to know the specifics.
CLINTON: They did all of that, and I did not look over their shoulders, because I thought it would be appropriate for them to conduct that search, and they did.
JORDAN: Will you provide this committee — or can you answer today, what were the search terms?
CLINTON: The search terms were everything you could imagine that might be related to anything, but they also went through every single e-mail.
JORDAN: That’s not answering the question. Search terms means “terms”. What terms did you use…
CLINTON: I did — I did not…
JORDAN: And what were the date parameters? What — what date did you start, what was the end date, and the e-mails in between that we’re going to look at?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I asked my attorneys to oversee the process. I did not look over their shoulder. I did not dictate how they would do it. I did not ask what they were doing and how they made their determinations (ph).
JORDAN: So you don’t know? You don’t know what terms they used to determine which ones were your e-mails and which ones the State Department got, and therefore we might get?
CLINTON: You know, The State Department had between 90 and 95 percent of all the ones that were work related. They were already on the system. In fact, this committee got e-mails…
JORDAN: I’m not asking about those. I’m asking about the 62,000 that were exclusively on your system.
CLINTON: …90 to 95 percent of all work-related e-mails were already in the State Department’s system.
JORDAN: We — we know the National Archive has — Secretary Clinton, we know the National Archive has said 1,250 were clearly personal. No way we should have — no way you should have sent them to the State Department.
And then we also know that 15, you missed, because we got those from Mr. Blumenthal when he came in — was — was — for his deposition.
CLINTON: Thank you.
JORDAN: So if you — you missed 15 you should have given us, and you gave us 1,250 that — not we say, but the national archivist says — you never should have turned over. You erred on both sides. So again, that’s why we want to know the terms. Because if you’ve made a mistake both ways, you may to made — might have made more mistakes. We don’t know.
CLINTON: Well, first of all, you had nine hours with one of my attorneys. And since I think the Democrats just finally released the transcript, I haven’t had a chance…
JORDAN: And I — and I specifically asked Ms. Mills. I did.
JORDAN: I did. I asked her about this and she gave me the — basically the same kind of answer you’re giving me.
CLINTON: Well, she’ll be happy to supplement the record if (inaudible).
JORDAN: But she’s not on the witness stand today. You are, and I’m asking you.
CLINTON: Well, but I — I asked my attorneys to do it. I thought that was the appropriate way to proceed.
JORDAN: Let me do one other statement. Let me do one other statement, because it sounds like we’re — I — I hope you’ll turn those — I hope we’ll know the terms.
I think the American people would like to know what terms you used to determine what we might get so that we could get all information on Libya and find out what happened, where these four Americans gave their lives. I think that’s — that’s critical.
In March, you also said this: your server was physically located on your property, which is protected by the Secret Service. I’m having a hard time figuring this out, because this story’s been all over the place.
But — there was one server on your property in New York, and a second server hosted by a Colorado company in — housed in New Jersey. Is that right? There were two servers?
CLINTON: There was a — there was a server…
JORDAN: Just one?
CLINTON: …that was already being used by my husband’s team. An existing system in our home that I used, and then later, again, my husband’s office decided that they wanted to change their arrangements, and that’s when they contracted with the company in Colorado.
JORDAN: And so there’s only one server? Is that what you’re telling me? And it’s the one server that the FBI has?
CLINTON: The FBI has the server that was used during the tenure of my State Department service.
JORDAN: OK. In your statement, you said, “which is protected by the Secret Service.” Why did you mention the Secret Service?
CLINTON: Well, because…
JORDAN: And — here’s what — could a Secret Service agent standing at the back door of your house protect someone in Russia or China from hacking into your system? Why did you mention the Secret Service agent?
CLINTON: Out of just an abundance of being transparent.
JORDAN: Transparent. I — how — what’s the relevance to protecting from (ph) classified information?
CLINTON: There was nothing marked classified on my e-mails, either sent or received. And I want to respond…
JORDAN: You used the write term there. Used “marked”. That’s the one — that’s what you — you used the revised statement there.
CLINTON: …well — but that’s — well, Congressman, there was a lot of confusion because many — many Americans have no idea how the classification process works. And therefore I wanted to make it clear that there is a system within our government, certainly within the State Department… JORDAN: (inaudible) one more question (inaudible).
CLINTON: …where material that is thought to be classified is marked such, so that people have the opportunity to know how they are supposed to be handling those materials…
JORDAN: I got — I got one second.
CLINTON: …and that’s why it became clearer, I believe, to say that nothing was marked classified at the time I sent or received it.
JORDAN: All right. All I — all I know is that’s different than what you said in March.
I got one last question. The FBI’s got your server, they’re doing a forensic review of your server. They may — they may — recover e-mails that you deleted from your system.
So, I didn’t say this, you said it. And you just said it a little bit ago, too, transparency. You said you were the — more transparent than anybody else ever. So I’m going to ask you just one simple question.
If the FBI finds some of these e-mails that might be deleted, as they’re reviewing your server, will you agree to allow a neutral third party — like a retired federal judge — to review any e-mails deleted to determine if any of them are relevant to our investigation?
CLINTON: Congressman, as you point out, there is a security inquiry being conducted by the Department of Justice and I trust that they will do whatever is appropriate to reach their conclusions.
JORDAN: But you would, as the most transparent person ever, would you commit to saying whatever they find, I want a retired federal judge to evaluate that and look and see if we need some of that information to get to the truth?
CLINTON: I have been releasing my e-mails to the public. That is transparency. And as I stand by my statement, so far as I know in the modern era, I am the only government official who’s ever done that.
JORDAN: Thank you.
Thank you, Madam Secretary.
GOWDY: The gentleman’s time is expired.
The chair will now recognize the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Westmoreland.
WESTMORELAND: Thank you.
Madam Secretary, so far today I’ve said good morning, good afternoon and good evening…
CLINTON: You all serving breakfast, Congressman?
WESTMORELAND: Well, let me go ahead and say good-night.
You know, I may be the only person on this side that doesn’t really care about your personal e-mail because I know that I think you said Colin Powell had one. The thing the bothers me is that it was a personal server. I think that’s the difference. Because Mr. Powell’s e-mails all went through the State Department server.
So just to clarify it, I think the problem is that you had the full control of your e-mails because they were on a private server and not the government server.
The other thing I’d like to say is to Ms. Duckworth, if you would read the testimony of the number of diplomatic security agents that served in Benghazi, most of them were temporary duty of 45-, 60-day people that served. If you’ll read that, I think you’ll find that a lot of these things that the secretary said as far as enhancements was paid for by petty cash out of their own money and not really fulfilled or completed.
The other thing I want to ask you, Madam Secretary…
DUCKWORTH: Will the gentleman yield for just 20 seconds?
DUCKWORTH: I think that’s why it behooves us as members of Congress to increase the security budget for the State Department. They routinely get less than they need, and I think that Americans in general would not begrudge more money for security to safeguard our diplomats. But I agree with you that the report does say that.
WESTMORELAND: Well, reclaiming my time, there was $20 million that she was going to send to Libya for their security upgrades.
You mentioned the sixth man, that you had to wait on the sixth man.
CLINTON: The fifth man. I’m sorry.
WESTMORELAND: OK. All right. I was going to say there must have been somebody hiding in the closet or something that we didn’t know about.
You also said in one of the last things, that the State Department sent more security from Tripoli to Benghazi during the attack.
WESTMORELAND: There was not a State Department person on that plane. There were four GRS agents and two TDY DOD people and an interpreter.
CLINTON: Well, that — that is exactly right. And that’s why the cooperation and coordination that I’ve been talking about with Congress…
WESTMORELAND: From all the information we’ve got, Mr. Glen Doherty is the one that said, “We are going down to help our brothers.” And he got permission from the chief of station to go down there, and he took three other GRS agents and then he got the two DOD guys that wanted to go, volunteered to go. They took an interpreter. They chartered the plane and they went down there. It was not a State Department deal.
And in fact, if you want to know the truth, the only option that the State Department had was the FEST team, as we — you and I talked about before. Now, you’ve mentioned that it was for rebuilding. And I’ve got the State Department thing here about the FEST, and I would read it, but it’s going to take up too much of my time, but there’s no anything in — it doesn’t say anything about rebuilding anything. It says that it’s for crisis management expertise; time-sensitive information; planning for contingency operations; hostage negotiating expertise, which we thought at one time that the ambassador may have been kidnapped; reach-back to Washington, D.C. agencies; and specialized communications capabilities.
Now, that’s what it says on the State Department website. And you know, that would have been the one thing that you could have done to get people on the way over there to help those folks that were still in an ongoing battle that was ready to go, sitting there. But you know what? It never got — that plane never got out of the hangar. Those people never got assembled. And we’ve got a chain of e-mails that the first recommendation came back is the FEST, from your own people. Then the FBI told your employees that the best way to handle the situation was to send the FEST team, and that was the way it had always been done.
So did you make the decision not to send the FEST team?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, first let me say that it’s important to recognize that our deputy chief of mission, Greg Hicks, was fully engaged in helping to put together the team that flew from Tripoli to Benghazi. And we were very grateful that the CIA station chief and his colleagues were behind that. And we were, you know, very appreciative.
They, as you know, didn’t get there in time because the attack on the compound was very swift. It was over in less than an hour. But they — they did help eventually to evacuate and it was just an additional tragedy that Mr. Doherty lost his life in attempting to stave off the attack on the CIA annex.
With regard to the FEST recommendation, everything you read was no longer applicable to our compound in Benghazi. Unlike the FEST team responding in Nairobi, where we were going to have an ongoing embassy presence — that was our embassy — the FEST team was very much involved in helping to stand up the communications and literally begin to get the embassy function again despite the fact that Americans and many of the locally employed staff had been murdered in the terrorist attack.
So it was our judgment that the FEST team was not needed, was not appropriate for Benghazi.
WESTMORELAND: But you really didn’t know what was going on at that point, when you could have pulled the trigger…
CLINTON: Well, we did know. We knew — we knew from the reports we were getting back from our diplomatic security officers that they had had to abandon the facility; that it had been set on fire. And it was — they were forced to take refuge with our CIA colleagues at the CIA annex. And remember, the FEST team is not an armed reaction force. That is not what a FEST team does.
WESTMORELAND: Ma’am, I know that.
CLINTON: And so we had an armed reinforcements coming from Tripoli.
WESTMORELAND: But that was the only tool that you had to get people over there yourself, not the DOD. This was…
CLINTON: But what would be — I’m sorry, Congressman, I mean, look…
WESTMORELAND: Well, evidently, it has been — it has served its purpose from being put in into different places it has responded to.
But I want to talk to you just a little bit about your e-mails. And that is that I think you said it was October that you received a letter that asked you and former secretary of states (sic) to present all their e-mails. Is that correct?
CLINTON: That’s my memory, yes.
WESTMORELAND: OK. Now, in August, the State Department met with your attorneys to talk about the lack of the e-mails that they had. Did you know that?
CLINTON: I didn’t at the time, no.
WESTMORELAND: You didn’t know that they were meeting — that the State Department was meeting with your attorneys?
CLINTON: Not — not at that time. And as you also recall, the State Department was beginning to turn over to this committee my e- mails because they had between 90 and 95 percent of all my work- related e-mails in the State Department system.
WESTMORELAND: But ma’am, they met with your attorney, and your attorney that they met with happened to be Cheryl Mills, which was your chief of staff.
CLINTON: That’s correct. That’s correct.
WESTMORELAND: Now, is that weird, that your attorney was your chief of staff, so that attorney/client (ph) privilege may have kicked in there somewhere?
CLINTON: She was — she was my counsel before she was my Chief of Staff. She became my counsel again after she was my Chief of Staff.
WESTMORELAND: Well, I know that when the e-mail went out that night, it called everybody under Secretary, Director, Spokesman, and it said Ms. Mills was counselor. It didn’t say Chief of Staff. And that was the night of the attack.
But let me just go a little bit further. You said, that you found out in October, but your attorneys met with the State Department — I believe it was in August.
Now, from that time you said you turned over everything and that your lawyers went through this, and I believe it was in November after finding out in October that they had reviewed all these e-mails. Now, the State Department hadn’t been able to give us all those e-mails in two years. But your attorneys — how many — you must have some of the fastest-reading attorneys in the world to go through that.
I know you’ve got a group of them there sitting behind you, but how many attorneys does it take to go through 65,000 e-mails in two months?
CLINTON: Well, first of all, the process to provide information to the Congress with respect to Benghazi started before I left the State Department. There was a concerted effort to gather up any information that might be responsive…
WESTMORELAND: Did you tell him you had a private server at that time?
CLINTON: You know, I don’t — I know that…
WESTMORELAND: If they were gathering e-mails, you had to tell them that you had a private server when you were there.
CLINTON: Well, the — the server is not the point, it’s the account. And I made it a practice to send e-mails that were work- related to people on their government accounts. In fact, you know, Secretary Kerry is the first Secretary of State to rely primarily on a government account. So…
WESTMORELAND: I’m not talking about the account, I’m talking about the server. But — one — one last point. Let me just — I’ll close with this and then the Chairman can give you time to answer.
Let me tell you what I thought. I think that your attorneys sat down with the State Department and they said, we got a problem. And so, we got to come up with something that this is not just the Secretary having these e-mails in a private server.
So I tell you what let’s do. Let’s go back and ask Madeleine Albright, who was Secretary of State in 1997, that never even had an e-mail account. Or let’s go back and ask, you know, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and me to find — to find all this information. I’m just telling you, it smells — it doesn’t smell right, and so I yield back.
CLINTON: Well, if I could respond, I think in the course of trying to answer and archive information, the State Department determined that they did have gaps in their recordkeeping, and it was much more than about me.
They had gaps with respect to others, both other secretaries and others within the State Department, and the technology in the State Department, indeed, throughout our entire Government, is notoriously difficult and often unreliable. And I think it was the State Department’s efforts to try to fill some of those gaps.
So I didn’t know at the time that there had been such a meeting. I learned of it subsequently. And when I received a copy of the letter that was sent by the State Department to me and the other three preceding Secretaries of State, I immediately said, well, let’s help them fill the gaps, even though I believed that the vast majority of my e-mails were already in their system. And we did.
We conducted the investigation. The survey that I have described to you, and turned over more than 30,000 work-related e-mails, 55,000 pages to the State Department. 90 to 95 percent were already there.
We sent so many that some were going to be returned because they were clearly not work related. We did our best. I did my best to make sure that if there were gaps in recordkeeping, at least my materials would be there to help fill any gaps above and beyond the 90 to 95 percent of e-mails that were already in the system.
WESTMORELAND: I’m not an attorney but I think Ms. Mills is a good attorney…
(UNKNOWN): Regular order, Mr. Chairman. At this late hour, four minutes after regular 10 (ph) minute time should be cut out off with questioning.
GOWDY: The gentleman is out of time. Just like almost every other member has been out of time throughout the day.
(UNKNOWN): Not four minutes out of time, Mr. Chairman. GOWDY: Oh, you’d be surprised.
(UNKNOWN): Well, it’s a late hour and our witness has been here more than nine hours. I think in the interest of brevity…
GOWDY: And as soon as the gentlelady finishes I’ll recognize our next member.
(UNKNOWN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate that courtesy.
GOWDY: The gentleman from California is recognized.
SCHIFF: Well, madam secretary, I don’t know how you’re doing, but I’m exhausted. If we stay here much longer, you’re going to have to take that 3M phone call from the committee room.
In fact, your testimony has not only gone on longer than both your prior testimonies to the House and Senate combined, but — I don’t know if pleased is the right word, but I’m able to inform you now that your testimony has gone on longer than all the other hearings we have held combined.
But in the interest of full disclosure, we haven’t done very much. So we’ve only had three hearings in the last year and a half, but still, that’s pretty impressive because some of those hearings we were multiple witnesses, and you have now outlasted all of them.
But I do think you can tell when you’re getting to the point of diminishing returns when you have a panel who are inventing testimony for you or imagining conversations you’re having meetings with your lawyer as well.
As for your e-mails, I feel like channeling Bernie Sanders here tonight.
SCHIFF: But I’m no Larry David and I know I wouldn’t do it right. So instead I’ll tell you about the other person I agree with on your e-mails, and that’s our chairman, who was asked on Fox News by Chris Wallace, what your e-mail use has to do with investigating what happened in Benghazi, and Chairman Gowdy’s response was, “Well, probably not much of anything.”
As we, you know, I hope wind up tonight, I want to just make one observation about your e-mails. Because I think it’s true of the investigation generally. For all the talk about your e-mails, what’s interesting to me is not a member here, either on the news or in leaked (ph) form or whatever, has said anything about the content of your e-mails that add any insight to what we already know.
So it’s fascinating to me that for all this talk, they have not pointed to a single thing in those e-mails of substance that alters our understanding of what happened in Benghazi, that alters the conclusions of those seven or eight other investigations.
And what’s true of your e-mails is true of this broader investigation, which is, here we are, 17 months later, $4.5 million later, and we have nothing new to tell the American people.
I have struggled to find something to ask you tonight that hasn’t already been asked an infinite number of times, an infinite number of ways, and I’m not going to go through the exercise of searching for a question to be asked again. It’s too late for that.
But having, I guess, started by pondering what the core theory was of my colleagues — and I’d appreciate at least one of them taking a stab at it — I do feel it’s my responsibility now as I wind up to tell you my theory of what’s happening is. Speaker Boehner did not want to form this committee. He said so, not to me, but he said so on national TV. He said, what is to be gained by having yet another committee after all the other committees we’ve had investigate? What is to be gained by this. This is a bad idea.
At some point, something changed the speaker’s mind. Now, I’m not in the room when the speaker makes the decision to reverse course. In reading a profile of our chairman, he wasn’t in the room, either. He got a call from the speaker when he was back in his district saying, I’ve decided to form a select committee. How would you like to be the chairman? I’ll bet Mr. Chairman wishes he had never gotten that call.
So who was in the room? Well, Kevin McCarthy was in the room. There is nobody better situated to know why this committee was formed, or why the speaker changed his mind than the speaker’s No. 2 Kevin McCarthy. So with all due respect to our chairman who says, shut up, other members, you don’t know what you’re talking about, I’d have to say, actually one person who does know what he’s talking about was Kevin McCarthy. So that’s why I think we’re here. And it would be one thing if it was that common an isolation. It’d be another if we didn’t have one of their own team, a GOP investigator who is going to vote for whoever the Republican nominee is, he tells us proudly, saying the same thing.
But it’s the way we’ve conducted ourselves, that is the most compelling evidence that that’s the only object here. I mean, I think we’ve seen amply tonight in the questions, there’s very little interest in what actually happened. There’s not much interest in how we can prevent it in the future, but there is a lot of interest in trying to score points against you tonight.
Everybody, I think, on this side of the podium is hoping they’re the one that does the gotcha that makes the news. Well, it’s terrible abuse of our responsibility and our power, and — and I think we’ll rue the day that we did this. I have no questions, Madam Secretary, and I appreciate your patience and I yield back.
I’m — I’m happy to yield to my colleague, Mr. Cummings.
CUMMINGS: Madam secretary, I want to associate myself with the voice of my colleague, but I want to go back to the ARB. In my 20 years on the Oversight Committee, one of the things that I’ve tried to do, is try to make sure that I protect the reputations of the people who come before our Committee. Be they Republican witnesses, be they Democrat or independent.
The reason being, that I realize there is life after the hearing. And so often, Madam Secretary, what happens is people come before these hearings, the families watching, colleagues watching. They are torn apart, and then in many instances we — things are corrected later on instead of it appearing on the front page of the newspaper, it’s on page 33 at the bottom in a little paragraph.
And you were talking a little bit earlier about the night of the tragedy. And I’ve done a lot of depositions in my life as a lawyer, but I can tell you — and I think you should be very proud of this. When I listened to Cheryl Mills (ph), to Mr. Sullivan (ph), and Ms. Abedine (ph) — when they talked about this night and what you did that night in their transcribed interviews, all of them were basically bored to tears.
And I — I remember sitting there saying to myself, you know, if you can create a culture in an organization where people, in talking about their boss, and how she reacted, and what she felt that would bring them to tears, it — it — it says a lot. And I realize that you’ve gone through a lot, but the fact still remains — and it bothers me when I hear people even imply that you didn’t care about your people. That’s not right.
And then I sit here and I watch you. And I saw how you kind of struggled when you were talking about that night. And I just for one want to thank you, and I appreciate what you’ve done. It has not been easy. You’re right, it’s easy to sit up here under these lights, and Monday morning quarter backing about what could have been, what should have been.
You have laid it out. I think — you’ve said — this has not been done perfectly. You wish you could do it another way, and then the statement you made a few minutes ago when you said, you know, I have given more thought to this than all of you combined. So I don’t know what we want from you. Do we want to badger you over and over again until you get tired, until we do get the gotcha moment he’s talking about?
CUMMINGS: We’re better than that. We are so much better. We are a better country. And we are better than using taxpayer dollars to try to destroy a campaign. That’s not what America is all about.
So you can comment if you like; I just had to get that off my chest.
CUMMINGS: Madam secretary?
CLINTON: Thank you, Congressman. I came here because I said I would. And I’ve done everything I know to do, as have the people with whom I worked to try to answer your questions. I cannot do any more than that.
The answers have changed not at all since I appeared two years ago before the House and the Senate. And I recognize that there are many currents at work in this committee, but I can only hope that the statesmanship overcomes the partisanship. At some point we have to do this. It is deeply unfortunate that something as serious as what happened in Benghazi could ever be used for partisan political purposes. And I’m hoping that we can move forward together, we can start working together, we can start listening to each other, and I appreciate greatly what you said, Ranking Member Cummings.
CUMMINGS: Thank you very much.
GOWDY: Madam secretary, before we go to Mr. Pompeo, Mr. Schiff from California made reference to a phone call that I received from Speaker Boehner, which he’s correct, I did. And Speaker Boehner never mentioned your name in the phone call. And then my friend from California suggested that maybe I wished I had not received that phone call, and I’d like to assure him that he could not be further from the truth.
Learning about the four people, two of whom you worked with and all four of whom we count as fellow Americans, is worth whatever amount of political badgering that may come my way. I have seen the personification of courage and public service. And so I — Adam, to answer to your question, no, I don’t regret it. I’m a better person having learned more about the four people we lost in Benghazi, and that’s why we signed up for it.
And with that I’ll go to Mr. Pompeo. POMPEO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Schiff, also suggested that you had to be in the room with the speaker. You’re right He was originally against the formation of this committee, but you don’t have to guess why he formed it. He made it clear when he announced this committee. It was because the State Department turned over information in a FOIA request that had not been turned over to the previous committees. He was concerned about that. And he realized the State Department and other government agencies may not have provided those other committees the information they need to do complete their task.
So you don’t need to speculate. One more administrative item. Mr. Westmoreland said there was a meeting between your counsel, Miss Mills, and the State Department regarding your e-mails. He said the meeting was in August. It was actually in July. It was a little bit earlier, and I just wanted to make sure the record reflected that.
Secretary Clinton, I have a few questions to ask you. We saved them for the end of the day because it may be that you can’t provide answers to me to these questions in an open setting. So it’s been a long day. I wanted to give you that heads up. These are questions that I would like to get answered, but it may be that an open hearing is not a place in which you’ll be permitted to provide those answers because of the nature of the answers you’ll provide. These are yes and no questions.
Were you aware, or are you aware of any efforts by the U.S. government in Libya to provide any weapons, either directly or indirectly, or through a cutout to my militias or opposition to Gadhafi’s forces?
CLINTON: That was a very long question, and I think the answer is no.
POMPEO: Were you aware or are you aware of any U.S. efforts by the U.S. government in Libya to provide any weapons, directly or indirectly, or through a cutout, to any Syrian rebels or militias or opposition to Syrian forces?
POMPEO: Were you aware or are you aware of any efforts by the U.S. government in Libya to facilitate or support the provision of weapons to any opposition of Gadhafi’s forces, Libyan rebels or militias through a third party or country?
POMPEO: Did you ever consider the idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition?
CLINTON: Private security?
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. Did — I’ll ask the question again. Did you ever at any time consider the idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition in Libya? CLINTON: Not seriously, no.
POMPEO: What does “not seriously” mean, ma’am?
CLINTON: Well, I think you’re referring to a reference in one of Sid Blumenthal’s e-mails.
POMPEO: No, ma’am, I’m referring to a reference in your e-mail.
CLINTON: Well, the answer is no.
POMPEO: Ma’am, I’ll read you the e-mail. It says, “FYI” — this is to Mr. Sullivan seated behind you, it says, “FYI, the idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition should be considered.”
Were you just not serious?
CLINTON: It was not considered seriously.
POMPEO: But you thought about it. You thought it might be both appropriate and lawful when you send that note to Mr. Sullivan.
CLINTON: I’m open to ideas, but that doesn’t mean that they’re either considered seriously or acted upon.
POMPEO: Was there any further e-mails or discussion with respect to that issue of potentially arming private experts or having private experts arm the Libyans?
CLINTON: Not that I’m aware of.
POMPEO: Another series of yes or no questions, Madam Secretary. Did you ask the Department of Defense how you were going to get your people out the evening that the incident occurred?
CLINTON: That was one of the matters that was discussed with the Department of Defense, yes.
POMPEO: Did you ask about what assets were positioned in place that they might be able to help?
CLINTON: Of course. That was part of the conversation from the very beginning.
POMPEO: Did you ask about how long it might take them to arrive either in Tripoli or Benghazi?
CLINTON: Yes, we did.
POMPEO: You earlier said today, a couple of hours back, that there were no military resources that could have arrived in Benghazi in a reasonable time. That’s your testimony from today. What was a “reasonable” time?
CLINTON: According to what we were told by the Defense Department, within a number of hours, there was not any way to get assets deployed in time to get to Benghazi. Of course, it was too late for our compound. And the idea of evacuating from the CIA annex was seriously addressed before the attack, but then obviously implemented after.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. But when the initial attack occurred, you had no idea how long the incidence would continue, did you?
CLINTON: It was over within an hour.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. There was a subsequent attack and could have been a third and a fourth. So when the initial attack occurred, did you have any idea what the magnitude and the duration of the events of that night would be?
CLINTON: Congressman, I don’t understand your question. We knew that the attack was over. We knew that our diplomatic security team had to evacuate from the compound to the CIA annex, and we were in a frantic search to find Ambassador Stevens.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. But several hours elapsed and there was a subsequent attack, and you didn’t know that that subsequent attack would take place, I’ll concede that. My question is: Why was heaven and earth not moved at the initial sound of the guns, maybe even putting tankers in the air from McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas? You simply didn’t know how long this series of events was going to continue, nor did you know how long the risk to the people that worked for you was going to remain.
CLINTON: Congressman, you will have to ask the Defense Department these questions. We certainly asked that all effort be made to deploy any assets that could be of use in Benghazi. I know that they put a number of assets in the United States, in Europe, on alert. But we were advised that it would take a number of hours to get there. And with respect to the CIA annex, you should talk with the intelligence community about that.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am, we will do that. And in some cases, we have asked those questions.
One — you talked earlier about Mr. Katala (ph), who is sitting in a prison cell not too far from where you and I are sitting here this evening. I, too, share your view that I’m glad that we’ve pulled one of the terrorists who murdered — was involved in the murder of U.S. government people on that night.
When that attack took place, Mr. Katala (ph), according to the indictment from the Justice Department, Mr. Katala (ph) and his folks removed documents from the temporary mission facility. Were you aware of that?
CLINTON: Yes, we later became aware that documents had been removed, but there was no classified documents at Benghazi.
POMPEO: And how do you know that?
CLINTON: We know it through our own investigation about what documents were at Benghazi, and there were no classified materials, to the best of our information.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. Do you know if there was sensitive information?
CLINTON: I suppose it depends on what one thinks of as sensitive information. There was information there and some of it was burnt, either wholly or partially. Some of it was looted. And some of it was recovered eventually.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, do you know where that material that was looted went? Do you know into whose hands it fell? And do you know the nature and contents of that material? You seem very confident it wasn’t classified. I don’t share your confidence. But nonetheless, do you know where that material went?
CLINTON: I think that it — it is very difficult to know where it ended up. But I want to just reiterate the point that I made. This was not a facility that had the capacity to handle classified material. And there was, to the best of our information, Congressman, no classified material at the Benghazi facility.
POMPEO: Ma’am, the fact that it wasn’t capable of handling classified material doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any classified material there. Is that correct?
CLINTON: Well, the procedure is not to have classified material at such a facility. And again, to the best of our knowledge, there was not any there.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. You’re not supposed to have classified e- mail on your private server either.
CLINTON: And I did not, Congressman.
POMPEO: We’re — we’re aware that sometimes classified material ends up in places where it ought not be.
I want to go back to your statement that you said you didn’t ever seriously consider arming private security experts. Tell me why you ever considered it at all?
CLINTON: We considered a whole range of issues. We knew that the insurgents fighting Gadhafi needed support and what they were provided was air support, facilitated by the United States. The United States did not provide any private contractors to assist them.
POMPEO: There was an e-mail that was from Mr. Blumenthal and (inaudible) before that, also discussing the same situation. Do you know who Mark Turrey (ph) is?
CLINTON: No, I don’t recall that I know who that is.
POMPEO: He was a private trafficker in weapons. He was working with Mr. Stevens and attempting to develop an authorization with the State Department so that he could in fact deliver those weapons into Libya. Does that — any of that ring a bell to you?
CLINTON: No, it does not.
POMPEO: So you never saw the e-mail that was from Mr. Stevens to — I think it went to Mr. Sullivan, where he says to Mr. Turrey (ph), this is Mr. Stevens now, says to Mr. Turrey (ph): “Thank you for this information” — this information about his attempts to get authority to ship arms into Libya. He says, “Thank you for this information. I’ll keep it in mind and share it with my colleagues in Washington. Regards, Chris.” Actually, “regards, Chris Stevens.”
CLINTON: I — I don’t know anything about that specifically. I do know that you’re referring to a document, and if you are, could you tell us what tab it’s at?
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. I’m not certain it’s in there as a tab, but I’m happy to provide it to you.
CLINTON: Well, it’s a little difficult to answer questions about documents we don’t have. But I can — I can answer you. Whatever was considered either out of politeness or out of interest, there was not any action taken so far as I know.
SANCHEZ: Mr. Chairman, regular order.
POMPEO: Mr. Chairman, may I have just 60 more seconds?
SANCHEZ: Mr. Chairman, the last Republican questioner went over by four minutes. And given that we’re allowed 10 minutes of questioning each and the late hour and the fact that we’re a minute beyond testimony already, I think that it’s appropriate to ask for regular order and that questioning be closed for this particular member of the panel.
GOWDY: The gentleman is recognized for 60 seconds.
POMPEO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to come back to one issue we talked about a couple hours back about accountability. You said that you didn’t have the authority — lawful authority to terminate any employees. Is that correct?
CLINTON: That is correct. And it is because of the laws and the regulations of our government, Congressman.
POMPEO: Did you have the authority to provide a counseling statement to any employee?
CLINTON: I do not know what you’re referring to. POMPEO: In other words, you couldn’t fire them, but you could put a letter in their employment file saying, “Hey, you didn’t do your job well.” Did you undertake that?
CLINTON: I think it was pretty well known that the ARB did not think they did their job. And the ARB specifically said, and some of this has been declassified, as you know, about personnel matters, that they could not find breach of duty, but they were as firm in saying that there were failures in the performance of the people that they named.
(UNKNOWN): Chairman regular order.
POMPEO: Just two yes or no questions.
(UNKNOWN): Sixty seconds has already elapsed. I believe the chairman granted 60 additional seconds.
POMPEO: I’ll wait for the next round. I yield back.
CUMMINGS: Mr. Chairman, before my time starts, he just said something that I want to make clear. He just said he’s going to wait for his next round. I thought we were kind of closing down here.
(UNKNOWN): Parliamentary inquiry. How late are we going tonight?
GOWDY: The gentleman is recognized to ask two yes or no questions.
POMPEO: Madam secretary, did you ask someone or did you prepare a counseling statement or letter of reprimand for any employees at the State Department connected with the incident of September 11, 2012?
CLINTON: There was a process that is the appropriate process for dealing with issues concerning performance, and that was followed. It continued into my successor’s term and the secretary of state, Secretary Kerry, made whatever the final determinations were.
POMPEO: Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
GOWDY: The chair will now recognize the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Cummings.
CUMMINGS: Thank you very much. I know the hour is late.
But Madam Secretary, I need to go back to something. ARB. You know, maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I care about legacy, reputation, that kind of thing, but there is an 83-year-old gentleman named Ambassador Pickering.
And I’ve heard a lot of testimony. I was there for his deposition. There was also a transcribed interview. I don’t remember which it was, and then his testimony before the Oversight Committee.
And when he talked about his appointment to the ARB, he talks about what an honor it was. I think the thing that bothers me about a lot of this that has gone on is that when there have been attacks on the ARB, it’s as if — I mean, it’s like attacking him. And at 83 years old, I refuse to sit here and let that go by.
And I remember listening to him, and I said to myself, you know, this is the kind of guy that we all ought to honor, serving under presidents for 40 years, Democrat and Republican, high up on the chain with regard to integrity. I mean, I don’t even say I how you even attack this guy, all right. And one of the things he said in his testimony, he said — and this was — you appointed him, and he talked about the appointment, and I quote from a June 4th testimony. He said, Chris Stevens worked for me as my special assistant for two years when I was under secretary of state. This was not any kind of vendetta, but I felt Chris gave me two wonderful years of his life in supporting me in very difficult circumstances. And that I owed him, his family and the families of the other people who died the best possible report we could put together.
And he went on to say some other things that were so powerful. And then when I hear the implications of people attacking the report, talking about he wasn’t independent or they weren’t independent, it’s like an attack against him. And I could say the same thing about Admiral Mullen.
And I just want you to tell us about why you picked the folk that you picked.
And by the way, it’s done by law. I mean, that’s what you’re supposed to do. The law says you’re supposed to pick these people.
CLINTON: That’s right.
CUMMINGS: And so why don’t you tell us how you picked them? Were you looking for yes people? I mean, what were you looking for?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I greatly appreciate your strong words of commendation on behalf of both Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen, you’re right, the statute is very clear. The secretary of state picks four of the five members of the Accountability Review Board. As I said earlier today, there have been 19 Accountability Review Board reports, and I think myself and prior secretaries have been very fortunate that they could call on distinguished Americans with long records of service to perform this very important task.
When I was thinking about who has the integrity, the independence, the experience to give us an unvarnished look at what happened, the first person I thought of was Ambassador Tom Pickering.
He has, as you rightly say, served our nation for more than four decades. He holds the rank of career ambassador. That’s the highest position in the foreign service.
He served as under secretary of state for political affairs, he served as our U.S. ambassador to Russia, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and Jordan. And he also served as the U.S. ambassador and representative to the United Nations, where he led the U.S. effort under the first Bush administration to build a coalition in the U.N. Security council during and after the first Gulf War.
He’s a man who had served in high posts and dangerous posts. He understood what was to be expected, and I counted on him in giving me the most comprehensive report possible.
I also wanted to find somebody with military experience, because these questions that have been raised about, you know, could we have gotten assets there, what actually happened with the diplomatic security agents, and Admiral Mike Mullen, who had just recently retired as the chairman of the joint chiefs was, again, I thought, the perfect choice to work with Ambassador Pickering.
As you know, he was nominated by President George W. Bush to be chairman of the joint chiefs. He served as chief of naval operations. He led NATO’s joint force command, U.S. naval forces in Europe. Commanded a missile cruiser, a missile destroyer, a tanker. He served in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf.
CUMMINGS: You need some water, Madam? Secretary?
GOWDY: Would you like to take — would you like us to take a 60- second — two-minute break?
CLINTON: No. Just let me grab — a lozenge.
So, Congressman, I have the utmost confidence in both of them.
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
Let me say this. You know, this hearing began with the chairman reading a list of questions that he claimed were unanswered. In fact, those questions had been asked and answered many times.
As a matter of fact, when we go back to the last questioner, you know, it was Speaker Boehner who — as a matter of fact, last Tuesday, Madam Secretary, Speaker Boehner acknowledged to Fox News the allegation that the U.S. government was involved in an illegal weapons program in Libya has been — and this is according to him — investigated by the House Intelligence Committee and debunked.
That’s what Speaker Boehner said about this illicit weapons transfer situation. Do you want us to hold up, Madam? Okay.
So going back, today — so these questions again were many — asked and answered. The new documents we obtained and the interviews we conducted don’t contradict the conclusions from the previous investigations, they simply confirm them.
Even after this marathon grilling, the select committee has found no evidence of any nefarious activity on the part of the secretary. She did not order the military to stand down. And there is still no indication that she approved or denied requests for security in Benghazi.
As the day has dragged on, the Select Committee’s cost has raised up to $4.8 million. That’s taxpayer dollars, by the way.
Two weeks ago, the State Department informed the Select Committee that it has spent $14 million responding to requests relating to Benghazi over the past three years. This does not include the costs incurred over the past three years by other federal agencies such as the Department of Defense.
In a letter to Congress on March 11, 2014, the Defense Department estimated that the total cost it has expended during previous Congressional Reviews ran into, quote, the millions of dollars.
So that’s at least $20 million right there. And that’s a conservative estimate because it does not include the costs of the seven previous investigations by congressional committees.
When I think about that amount, $20 million, $20 million, it pains me to imagine what that money could have done. I don’t want anyone to mistake what I am saying. Of course, we needed to know what happened in Benghazi so we could take action to help prevent it in the future. And I have personally investigated this.
We compiled an entire database of information on our website about a year ago. We put together 133 page compendium. We released a new report this week with the results of 54 interviews, and I want all of those transcripts to be made public to the American people after the appropriate redactions. They ought to be released. I want them to see — I want the American people to see every word, of course, with appropriate redactions. I don’t want anybody accusing me of saying otherwise.
But finally, my point is this. Instead of spending this entire $20 million on these eight investigations, we could have dedicated at least some part of those funds to actually increasing security for our diplomats overseas. Even if it were just a fraction of that amount, I can’t help but wonder how many consulates could have been improved, how many embassies could have been better protected, and how many more of our patriotic American Diplomats (ph) would be safer today.
So with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
GOWDY: The gentleman yields back.
Madam Secretary, I couldn’t help but think when he was using the $20 million figure, that’s — that’s two more ISIS fires that we could have paid for. I — I refuse to put a price tag on the lives of four Americans.
I — I don’t — your figure of 20 million is wrong, Mr. Cummings, and that’s not what the State Department told us, but I don’t care what the figure is. There is no price tag when it comes to justice for four people who gave their lives for this country.
Madam Secretary, with respect to the ARB, I want to ask you this. If you were investigating Benghazi or what happened in Benghazi and there was an author of an e-mail three months to the day — three months to the day from when our four fellow Americans were killed. The author of the e-mail says anti-American demonstration, looking for Americans to attack, game changer, soft target, no continuity, the cost to continue to do business there may become challenging.
Would you want to talk to the author of that e-mail if you were investigating Benghazi?
CLINTON: The Accountability Review Board had full run of the State Department to talk to anyone they chose to talk to. It’s my understanding they conducted more than 100 interviews, and they were well aware, as their report reflects, of the dangerous situation in Libya.
GOWDY: I don’t want to interrupt you. That actually was not my question.
My question is, would you want to talk to that person? Not whether or not the ARB did, because the ARB actually did talk to that person.
My question is, wouldn’t you want to talk to that person if you were investigating Benghazi?
I promise it is not a trick question. The answer is yes. You would want to talk to the person who authored that e-mail.
CLINTON: As you just said, Mr. Chairman, the ARB did.
GOWDY: Yes. And the co-Chair of the ARB called your Chief of Staff and told the author of that e-mail not to go to Congress. That’s my point.
My point is the ARB did some good things, that’s why are first two hearing were on making sure the recommendations by the ARB were actually implemented.
But when the author of that e-mail is gonna be brought before Congress and one of the co-chairs calls your chief of staff and says, “I don’t think that that witness is going to be a good witness,” Madam Secretary, with all due respect, she’s a fact witness. Whether she’s good or bad, the author of that e-mail has a right for Congress to — to — to question them.
I mean, that’s not even a close question. So somebody can be a good person — and I have no doubt that Mr. Mullen and Mr. Pickering both are. But this is also what I don’t doubt: I don’t doubt that that phone call was made to Miss Mills saying, “don’t send Charlene Lamb before Congress, she’s not going to make a good witness,” and I don’t doubt that there’s not a transcript from any of the ARB interviews.
And you may say, “well, why does that matter?” If you’re going to write a report, and you want to write a report with specificity and particularity, you have to cite the transcript. And I can’t tell you a single question that was asked of a single ARB witness, because there is no transcript.
So — so my point is not that the ARB did a bad job or a good job. My point is from the — from the standpoint of a serious investigation, it was an inadequate job. And — and — and I want to hopefully prove that to you.
There used to be a stack up there, when Mr. Smith was with us, about all the previous investigations that Congress and the ARB had done. Did any of those previous congressional investigations or the ARB have access to your e-mails?
CLINTON: Mr. Chairman, first of all, the witness you are referring to did appear before Congress…
GOWDY: That was not my point. My point…
CLINTON: Well, but you — you — your implication was that that witness was stopped from going to Congress and, in fact…
GOWDY: No, she…
CLINTON: …that did not happen, Mr. Chairman.
GOWDY: …no — no — no, she definitely came. No, that was — that’s not my implication.
My implication is the co-chair of what you call an independent Accountability Review Board was calling someone he was supposed to be investigating to say, “please don’t send that witness to Congress, they’re not going to show up well.” That’s my point.
My point is, how can you consider that to — I mean…
CLINTON: Well, look…
GOWDY: …have you ever heard of a — have you ever heard of a judge calling the — the D.A. or the defense attorney and say, “don’t — don’t call that witness?
CLINTON: …you know, Mr. Chairman — Mr. Chairman, I really don’t care what you all say about me. It doesn’t bother me a bit. I do care about what you’re implying about Admiral Mullen, and I will not sit here and hear that.
GOWDY: Well — ma’am…
CLINTON: Admiral Mullen served this country with great distinction. He served the State Department with great distinction in being the co-chair of the Accountability Review Board, and I think his work speaks for itself.
GOWDY: …well — let me ask you about his work.
CLINTON: And I’m — I’m sorry that — I’m sorry that the important work that was done by that board is held in such low regard by some members of this committee, and I deeply regret it.
GOWDY: Are — are you doubting that he placed the phone call? Is that — is that the purpose of what you’re saying?
CLINTON: I know nothing about the phone call.
GOWDY: Well, I do, because he testified before another congressional committee. He admits it was a mistake, Madam Secretary. I don’t know why you can’t.
GOWDY: He admits it was a mistake to call and say, don’t send a fact witness before a congressional committee.
CLINTON: …well, I think that showed…
GOWDY: That doesn’t mean he’s a bad person. It just means that when you hold up the ARB as — as independent and — and your chief of staff picked most of the folks on it — Patrick Kennedy had a role in picking some of the folks on the ARB, despite the fact that some people think Patrick Kennedy may have also been involved in approving or not approving — if you need to read a note from your lawyer, you’re welcome to, Madam Secretary.
CLINTON: No. It’s — it’s just hard to sit here listening to the comments you’re making about someone that I consider to be a great American. If he said he made a mistake, that’s even more proof of what a fine gentleman he is, and what a great public servant he’s been.
It doesn’t, in any way, what you’re saying, impugn his service for 40 years, and certainly not his service on the Accountability Review Board. I can’t help it, Mr. Chairman, that you all don’t like the findings of the Accountability Review Board.
GOWDY: Ma’am, we had two hearings.
CLINTON: I can’t help it that you don’t like the findings of all…
GOWDY: We — we had — we had two hearings.
CLINTON: …the other congressional committees.
GOWDY: We had two hearings where we did nothing but discuss the implementation of the ARB findings, Madam Secretary. So with all due respect, we’ve had more hearings about the ARB findings than we have with you.
So — so — so don’t tell me that we don’t care about the ARB. We had two hearings. My point is this. The ARB, nor the previous congressional investigations, had access to your e-mails. Did they?
CLINTON: I don’t know what they had access to. I know that, during the time I was at the State Department, there was certainly a great effort to respond to your predecessor, Congressman Issa’s inquiries.
And many thousands of pages of information was conveyed to the Congress. And I know that the State Department has worked diligently and persistently to try to respond to the many requests that it has received.
And I think that given the pressure and stress of business they have been under, they have performed as well as they could. So, you will be getting, and in fact, the entire world will be getting, all of my emails, because they are all going to be public. And you will be able to read them along with everybody else.
GOWDY: Madam Secretary, that actually was not my question. My question was, whether or not the previous congressional committees and ARB had access to your emails. That was of my question.
CLINTON: Ninety to 95 percent of my work related emails were in the State’s system, if they wanted to see them, they would certainly have been able to do so.
GOWDY: You know what, that is maybe the tenth time you have cited that figure today.
CLINTON: It is.
GOWDY: And I have not heard anyone other than you ever cite that figure. Who told you that 90 to 95 percent of your emails were in the State Department system? Who told you that?
CLINTON: We learned that from the State Department and their analysis of the emails that were already on the system. We were trying to help them close some gaps that they had. But they already…
GOWDY: Can you provide me with a name? Because when I asked the State Department about 10 days ago what is the source of that figure, they shrugged their shoulders.
CLINTON: Well, you can look for the state.gov addresses and they certainly pop up. And it’s where…
GOWDY: Right. In the inspector general report, Madam Secretary, the inspector general report, which you can’t argue by perfect analogy, but you can certainly extrapolate, the inspector general report found that less than 1 percent, less than 1 percent of State Department emails, record emails were captured.
So they give a number of less than 1 percent and you give a number of 90 percent.
CLINTON: Well, I don’t know what you are referring to. I can only speak about my emails, my work related emails and…
GOWDY: Well, let’s talk about your work related emails. We asked for them last year and the State Department gave us eight. If they had 90 percent of yours, why did we only get eight?
CLINTON: Well, I don’t know initially what you asked for, but I know that they tried to be responsive. Ninety to 95 percent of them were on state.gov. I understand that the committee broadened the scope of their request.
And I think that in response, the State Department has been trying to provide what you have requested. In the meantime, they’re going through the process of making all of my emails public.
GOWDY: You think our first request, there were only eight emails responsive to our first request?
CLINTON: I can’t speak to it. I believe your first request was for Benghazi. And I believe that the State Department did a diligent search. Then I believe you expanded it to Libya and weapons and maybe a few other terms. And I believe they conducted a diligent…
GOWDY: Well, our jurisdiction hasn’t grown, Madam Secretary. Our jurisdiction is the same thing it was.
Let me ask you this. You say that you turned over everything. I don’t get a chance to watch you a lot on television, but when I see you are interviewed, you make a point of saying, I turned over everything.
CLINTON: All my work related emails, yes.
GOWDY: How do you know that?
CLINTON: I know that because there was an exhaustive search done under the supervision of my attorneys, and that is exactly the outcome. We turned over every work related email, in fact, as somebody referred to earlier, we turned over too many.
The State Department and the National Archives said there are 1,246 out of the 30,000-plus that they have already determined did not need to be turned over.
GOWDY: And you have a really…
SANCHEZ: Regular order, Mr. Chairman.
GOWDY: … good group of attorneys, which makes me wonder…
SANCHEZ: Chairman, regular order.
GOWDY: … how they missed 15 of them.
CLINTON: Well if you are talking about Mr. Blumenthal, which I assume you are, he had some that I didn’t have, and I had some that he didn’t have. And he — I was under no obligation to make any of his emails available unless I decided they were work related.
And the ones that I decided that were work related I forwarded to the state.gov accounts of the people with whom I worked.
GOWDY: Madam Secretary, is there any question that the 15 that James Cole turned over to us were work related? There’s no ambiguity about that. They were work related.
CLINTON: No. They were from a personal friend, not any official government — not any government official. And they were, I determined on the basis of looking at them, what I thought was work related and what wasn’t. And some I didn’t even have time to read, Mr. Chairman.
GOWDY: So are you telling me the 15…
SANCHEZ: Mr. Chairman, regular order.
GOWDY: Are you saying that the 15…
SANCHEZ: Mr. Chairman…
GOWDY: I will tell the gentlelady from California that I’m going to take a little extra time, just like everybody else has, and that we can either do it this round, or we can do it next round.
SANCHEZ: May I make a simple inquiry about how many more minutes the chairman plans?
GOWDY: The fewer the interruptions, the quicker I can get done. I’ll put it to you that way. How’s that?
SANCHEZ: OK, just be mindful of the time.
GOWDY: The 15 — my question to you, on the 15, did your lawyers find them and decide that they were not work related or did they not find them?
CLINTON: Well, I don’t know why he had emails I didn’t. And I don’t know why, apparently, I had emails he didn’t. And all I can tell you is that I turned over every work related email in my possession.
GOWDY: All right. I’m going to make two more observations and then we are going to call it a night.
The first observation that I would make is that when you speak to the public, you say, I turned over everything. That’s for the most part a direct quote. When you talk to the public, you say, I turned over everything.
When you talk to the court, you say, while I do not know what information may be responsive for purposes of this lawsuit, I have directed that all my emails on clintonemail.com (ph) in my custody that were — or potentially were federal records be provided to the Department of State and on information and belief that was done.
Why the different explanation depending on who you’re talking to?
CLINTON: Well, one is a shorthand, Mr. Chairman.
GOWDY: Well, why not just tell the court, I turned over everything?
CLINTON: Well, you know how lawyers are, they use more words perhaps than they need.
GOWDY: Trust me, I know that.
CLINTON: I thought you might.
GOWDY: And they charge you for every one of them.
CLINTON: Yes, I’m well aware of that, Mr. Chairman. And the clock is ticking.
GOWDY: Well, one more, one more and I will pay Mr. Kendall’s fee for the last question. How’s that?
CLINTON: Oh, I don’t think you want to do that, Mr. Chairman.
GOWDY: I probably can’t do it.
You see my point, though, you are very definitive when you’re talking to the American people, that you turned over everything.
CLINTON: That’s right.
GOWDY: But those kind of lawyerly fudge words when you are talking to court on information and belief, and the reality is even tonight, you cannot tell us that you turned over everything, because you didn’t think you missed the 15.
CLINTON: Well, I didn’t have them, I turned over everything I had. Everything I had has been turned over to the State Department.
GOWDY: Which means the system you had somehow missed those 15.
GOWDY: Last question on your system. Mr. Cummings said that your email arrangement was inappropriate. I think the president may have said it was a mistake. You have said that it was a mistake.
My question to you, Madam Secretary, is, was it a mistake — for the four years that you had that email arrangement, was it a mistake for the almost two years that you kept the public record to yourself, or has it manifested itself as a mistake in just the last six months?
CLINTON: Well, since I believed that all of my work related emails to dot-gov accounts were being captured and preserved, it wasn’t until I was asked to help the State Department to fill in what they saw as some record-keeping gaps, not just with me, but with others, I did the best I could during those four years and thought that everything that I was emailing that was work related was being preserved.
GOWDY: If you can find a source for the 90 to 95 percent, I would be grateful for it and we would probably have fewer questions. If there is a source that you can provide that 90 to 95 percent were on the State Department’s system, then I will know that I need to ask the State Department what took them so long, because I’m just telling you, Madam Secretary, I got eight emails the first time I asked, and now I have got over 1,500.
So there’s some disconnect there.
CLINTON: Well, Mr. Chairman, I think that is a fair question. And I’m not at the State Department any longer, but I do want to defend them. They are under the most extraordinary pressure to answer congressional inquiries.
I saw a figure recently that FOIA requests have jumped something like 300 percent. They don’t have the resources. They don’t have the personnel. They take their responsibility of reading every single line.
And as Ranking Member Cummings reminded us, having to redact personal information, personnel information, obviously they take it very seriously, I think they’re doing the best they can.
And I know that they’ve tried to be responsive to you and to the many other requests that have come their way.
GOWDY: Madam Secretary, on behalf of all of us, we want to thank you for your patience and for your willingness to come. And you have been willing to come in the past, as I noted in my opening. And we appreciate it.
And with that, we will be adjourned.
CLINTON: Thank you.