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Hillary Clinton gives testimony

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has angrily defended her handling of the raid on a US consulate in Libya, in back-to-back hearings on Capitol Hill.

Clinton lashed out at a senator who accused the Obama administration of misleading the public.

She took responsibility for security failures that led to the 11 September attack but said she had not seen requests for more security beforehand.

It was her last appearance at Congress as America’s top diplomat.

“Nobody is more committed to getting this right,” Mrs Clinton told the Senate foreign relations committee.

“I am determined to leave the state department and our country safer, stronger and more secure,” she added.

She was questioned about the raid on 11 September last year on the US consulate in Benghazi that left the US envoy to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other officials dead.

The ambassador died of smoke inhalation when he was trapped in the burning consulate building, after armed men stormed the compound.

The assault triggered a major political row over who knew what and when.

The incident became an issue in the presidential campaign, and outrage in Congress led the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, to withdraw from the race to succeed Mrs Clinton.

Last November, Rice admitted releasing incorrect information after the Benghazi attack – she said on a Sunday chat show on 16 September that the attack had stemmed from an anti-US protest.

Rice later said there had been no attempt to mislead the public, but Republicans were unconvinced.

At Wednesday’s Senate hearing, Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, said: “We were misled that there were supposedly protests and then something sprang out of that, an assault sprang out of that.”

Clinton replied with a raised voice: “But with all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans – was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans.”

Thumping the table four times, she added: “What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator.” (BBC)

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