Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared in Senate and House hearings Wednesday on intelligence failures in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans were murdered last year, on the 11th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. Yet the New York Times buried the story on page A11, in the International section, content with running a photo of Clinton on the front page.
The Washington Post put the hearings on the front page, though Anne Gearan's story, "Clinton delivers forceful defense on Benghazi," was "a masterful work of puffery," according to MRC's Ken Shepherd. Times reporter Michael Gordon at least showed some polite skepticism in "Facing Congress, Clinton Defends Her Actions Before and After Libya Attack."
In one of her final appearances as secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday vigorously defended her handling of last September’s attack on the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans and prompted a scathing review of State Department procedures.
The continuing controversy over the attack, which resulted in the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, has cast a cloud over Mrs. Clinton’s final months at the State Department. It also has enormous political implications for Mrs. Clinton, the former New York senator who is already regarded as the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination if she chooses to run. It was the first time she had faced extensive questioning about her role in the episode.
In essence, Mrs. Clinton’s approach was to accept the responsibility for security lapses in Benghazi but not the blame.
“I feel responsible for the nearly 70,000 people who work for the State Department,” Mrs. Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the morning. “But the specific security requests pertaining to Benghazi, you know, were handled by the security professionals in the department. I didn’t see those requests. They didn’t come to me. I didn’t approve them. I didn’t deny them.”
For all of the hours of testimony, the hearings did little to clarify the role of the White House in overseeing the American presence in Libya before the attack or explain why the Pentagon had few forces available on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to respond quickly to any assault on diplomatic outposts in the region.
A persistent line of questioning by Republican lawmakers concerned the initial comments from Ms. Rice that the attack might have resulted from a protest, over an anti-Islamic video, that spun out of control.
Mrs. Clinton defended Ms. Rice even as she appeared to distance herself from Ms. Rice’s comments. “I told the American people that heavily armed militants assaulted our compound, and I vowed to bring them to justice,” Mrs. Clinton said.