Clinton Chokes Up, Gets Angry at Benghazi Hearing

She says she wasn't involved in the talking points given to Susan Rice

By Kevin Spak,  Newser User

Posted Jan 23, 2013 9:26 AM CST | Updated Jan 23, 2013 10:29 AM CST
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(Newser) – Hillary Clinton briefly became emotional while testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, tearing up as she recalled the aftermath of the Benghazi attack. "To me this is not just a matter of policy. It's personal," Clinton said in her opening statement. Her voice broke as she went on: "I stood next to President Obama as Marines carried those flag-draped coffins off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters, and the wives left alone to raise their children." Other highlights so far include:

  • "As I have said many times since September 11, I take responsibility," Clinton said earlier in her prepared remarks, according to Politico. "Nobody is more committed to getting this right."
  • That didn't stop Republicans from pushing Clinton. "It's my sense that as a nation we were woefully unprepared," Bob Corker said. He asked why security changes weren't made when officials were "screaming out" for help, according to CNN. Clinton said they had been, and outlined many steps she'd implemented or proposed to prevent future incidents.
  • Clinton was also pressed on Susan Rice's infamous talk show assertions that the attack was a spontaneous protest. "I personally was not focused on talking points. I was focused on keeping our people safe," Clinton said. "It was an intelligence product."
  • She said she "absolutely" stood by her initial statement, within 24 hours of the incident, that it had been the work of "heavily armed militants."
  • When Republican Ron Johnson pressed Clinton on why officials couldn't have ascertained immediately that there hadn't been a protest, she got angry. "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? What difference at this point does it make?!" Clinton cried, slamming the table. She said she'd rather focus on capturing those responsible than figuring out their motives.
  • John McCain was combative as well, saying that the US hadn't provided enough security for Libya, and that her answers were "not satisfactory" regarding Rice's comments. "The American people deserve to know answers, and they certainly don't deserve false answers," he said.
  • Clinton responded that "we just have a disagreement" regarding what happened in explaining the events to the public. She also said congressional holds were partly to blame for the security situation McCain was decrying. "We've had frequent congressional complaints—'Why are we doing anything for Libya, it's a wealthy country?'" she said. "We've got to get our act together."
  • Rand Paul blasted Clinton, blaming her for "the worst disaster since 9/11" and saying he would have fired her had he been president.

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