Leave it to Obama-boosting MSNBC to carry water for the Obama administration over the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi. Speaking with Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J) on her MSNBC program Wednesday afternoon -- prior to Smith's committee's hearing with Clinton but following this morning's Senate hearing -- Ms. Mitchell spouted off numerous White House talking points to excuse Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s failure to secure our embassy in Benghazi.
Mitchell’s regurgitation of Obama/Clinton talking points comes just hours after she claimed Clinton had a “stellar term” as Secretary of State. The segment began with Congressman Smith outlining his expectations for Ms. Clinton’s testimony:
We know what she did afterwards, at least that's what she talked about today, but there are huge questions about security requests that our ambassador in Libya had made to the department. Did she know about it? Those answers still are forthcoming and they have not come. [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
Mitchell, who earlier this month did an NBC Today show story hailing the "indefatigable" then offered up the first White House talking point in response:
Well, one of her points today, I think, in answer to senator McCain or one of the critics was that it's Congress that has held back money or approval… I mean, as she put it, doesn't the White House, the administration, and Congress have to get their act together as to if we want more security, prove it, budget it.
As the interview progressed, Mitchell, no stranger to diplomatic security as a former NBC News State Department correspondent, clearly showed her desire to defend Clinton even further, especially when Congressman Smith brought up the lack of Marine security at our embassy. Mitchell acting as a surrogate of Secretary Clinton once again used White House talking points:
The military is prepositioned in Stuttgart, not even close. They say, the military, the Pentagon and the State Department both say, because it would be worse for us diplomatically to have a big footprint there. Do you reject that? Do you think we should have forward basing and do you think we should have Marines at these outposts?
See relevant transcript below.
Andrea Mitchell Reports
January 23, 2013
1:38 p.m. EST
ANDREA MITCHELL: With only a short break to recover from the grilling that she got from the Senate this morning, Hillary Clinton is going to get another turn this afternoon in front of the House. One of those asking the questions is New Jersey Republican Chris Smith, who joins me now. Congressman, thank you very much.
CHRIS SMITH: Andrea, good to see you again.
MITCHELL: Good to see you. Tell me, what do you want to hear from Hillary Clinton?
SMITH: Well, I watched some of the Senate testimony, I read the Secretary’s testimony, we’re glad to have her on Capitol Hill, but there's still so many unanswered questions. You know, it's as if we never learned the lessons. Back in 1985, Admiral Bobby Inman issued the Inman Commission Report. In 1999, Admiral Crowe and I chaired the hearings after our Embassies got bombed in Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. 200 people dead, 4,000 wounded and injured. Many of the same recommendations that were made by the most recent Accountability Review Board were made back then, so it's a matter of implementation and leadership, which seems to be lacking. And we really still don't know what the Secretary knew prior to September 11, 2012. We know what she did afterwards, at least that's what she talked about today, but there are huge questions about security requests that our Ambassador in Libya had made to the Department. Did she know about it? Those answers still are forthcoming and they have not come.
MITCHELL: Well, one of her points today, I think, in answer to Senator McCain or one of the critics was that it's Congress that has held back money or approval. Let me play a little bit of that.
HILLARY CLINTON: Since March 2011, Congressional holds have been placed on programs for many months for aid to Libya. We've had frequent Congressional complaints, why are we doing anything for Libya, it's a wealthy country, it has oil, disagreement from some sources that we should never have been part of any U.N. mission in Libya. Currently, the House has holds on bilateral security assistance, on other kinds of support for antiterrorism assistance.
MITCHELL: I mean, as she put it, doesn't the White House, the Administration, and Congress have to get their act together as to if we want more security, prove it, budget it.
SMITH: Obviously, we could always do more, Andrea. But I was the author of the secure embassy construction and counterterrorism act of 1999. Since 1998, we have tripled from 1,000 to 3,100 diplomatic security agents and personnel. It's a matter of leadership and the proper deployment, so there was a little misdirection there on that answer. When it comes to security for an Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, who tragically lost his life, and the three other individuals and those who were wounded, that's a matter of prioritizing the resources that you have and ensuring that when the Ambassador makes a request, when his team makes a request of the Department, those funds and that deployment of personnel are forthcoming. Added to that, there's still questions about the military. Seven hours after the attack began was when two of the individuals, the Americans, died. I could fly from here to London in seven hours or so. We couldn't get military assets there to protect Americans who are under siege? So there's questions about what President Obama was doing at the time during those long seven hours, and there's questions about why we didn't have military personnel there to protect our people who are in dire straits.
MITCHELL: Well, Congressman, the military is prepositioned in Stuttgart, not even close. They say, the military, the Pentagon and the State Department both say, because it would be worse for us diplomatically to have a big footprint there. Do you reject that? Do you think we should have forward basing and do you think we should have marines at these outposts?
SMITH: Well again, we still don't know what went on prior to September 11th in terms of the requests that were made and especially how they were acted upon. Three individuals, at least, have been put on administrative leave because of mistakes that were made, but how high up did it go? I'm shocked, frankly, that in an era where we want transparency, that Secretary Clinton herself was not interviewed by Thomas Pickering and his Accountability Review Board. You don't just interview mid-level people about what they knew and when they knew it, you have to go higher and find out what happened throughout the entire chain of command. And, again, since there were early indications that this was a hot spot, that the February 17th brigade, which was one of those charged with protecting us, our military -- I mean, our diplomatic people, was of very, very questionable allegiance. Who vetted them? Those kinds of red flags should have triggered either our Ambassador not going to Benghazi that day, or other actions being taken, especially when you talk about having more people there to provide protection. You know, he had less people in Benghazi than he did a year before when he went there. That's unconscionable, so -- pardon me, mistakes were made, in my opinion and the opinion of many others. But we’re all talking about, and I watched the Secretary, she was very smart in talking about what we need to do, but what was or was not done prior to the initiation of these hostilities, this terrorist attack against Americans.
MITCHELL: Well, we're going to have to leave it there and watch your hearing this afternoon. Thank you very much, Congressman.
SMITH: Thank you, Andrea.