Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday said she took responsibility following an attack on a US consulate in Libya in 2012 that killed four Americans including the US Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Clinton, the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, defended herself for more than 10 hours against harsh Republican criticism in a hearing at the US Congress in Washington. She was questioned about whether the State Department provided enough security for the diplomats killed in the attack in Benghazi, Libya.
In her opening statement she said she was the one who asked Stevens to go to Libya as a US envoy.
"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."
Clinton told the Congressional committee that she initiated reforms in order to better protect staff working in the field and prevent the chance of another tragedy to occur in the future.
Representative Mike Pompeo, a Kansas Republican, claimed that officials in Libya had made hundreds of requests for higher security before the Benghazi attacks, but none of them were personally checked by Clinton.
The former secretary of state affirmed many times that it was not her duty to evaluate such requests. She stressed that the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security was responsible for handling security requests in parallel with budget constraints.
"We owe them, and each other, the truth," Republican Trey Gowdy, the panel’s chairman, referring to the families of those killed in Benghazi. "The truth about what we were doing in Libya. The truth about what led to the attacks and the truth about what our government told the American people after the attacks."
Another discussion was about a friend of Hillary Clinton, Sidney Blumenthal, who sent her more than a hundred intelligence reports on Libya via email. The committee members questioned his role on Clinton’s decision making, demanding Blumenthal’s testimony transcripts to be released.
Clinton’s party describes the Republican-led panel as a witch-hunt trying to shade her presidential bid, an accusation which they deny.
Clinton, secured her position as the Democrats' frontrunner for presidential candidate, when her strongest potential challenger, Vice-President Joe Biden stepped away from the race on Wednesday.
However, she has also been dealing with an investigation concerning her usage of a private email server while secretary of state, which has clouded her 2016 campaign ever since.