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Benghazi Hearings. Aired 2-4:00p ET
Aired October 22, 2015 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] REP. PETER ROSKAM (R), SELECT COMMITTEE ON BENGHAZI: Had ample opportunity to describe her situation and her story and she has no stranger to big venues. So this is not somebody that needs our help to tell her story, but we do have a responsibility and that is to find these facts.
REP. LYNN WESTMORELAND (R), SELECT COMMITTEE ON BENGHAZI: And let me say -
REP. MARTHA ROBY (R), SELECT COMMITTEE ON BENGHAZI: And - oh, sorry. Go ahead.
WESTMORELAND: Let me just say this. You know, we are trying to find the facts. And, you know, she says she knew of the two big attacks on the facility in Benghazi. Mr. Moral (ph), in his book, says there was 20 attacks. So what we're trying to find - the fact we're trying to find out is, how many attacks would have been necessary that she knew about would have been necessary for her to give additional security in Benghazi, especially after she admits that she got briefed every day she was in D.C. by the CIA. And these are the very CIA reports that Mr. Moral is talking about.
You know, there was 4,500 pages of those reports from January 1st to the attack. And so we just want to know how many pages it would have taken, how many attacks it would have taken, what it would have taken to beef up, get more security to protect the U.S. personnel on the ground.
ROBY: And there - and there are additional documents that we will have the opportunity, in the next few hours, to ask her about that she has not been asked about in previous hearings. So -
ROSKAM: Last question.
QUESTION: Why shouldn't the full transcript of Sidney Blumenthal's testimony be released to the public?
ROSKAM: Well, I think these - these large discussions about what is released and what isn't released need to be made in the totality of the whole investigation. So as the chairman has said, 50 witnesses have been interviewed. There's probably 20 more that are cued up. So we're very much in the midst of an ongoing investigation. And the chairman, and I agree with him, says let's - let's make these things - let's disclose them on a timely basis. And the - only reason that we're talking about Sidney Blumenthal, think about it, is because Secretary Clinton was listening to Sidney Blumenthal. Uniquely listening to Sidney Blumenthal. In fact, he had access that the American ambassador didn't.
We've got to go back in. Thank you.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so there's Peter Roskam and three other Republican members of the select committee making the case in between part one and part two. The chairman, Trey Gowdy, he's already in his seat getting ready for part two. He's been almost alone in that Longworth House office building up on Capitol Hill in - during this lunch break, as it's being called, getting ready for part two.
Dana Bash is outside the hearing room. She's got a guest, Adam Schiff, one of the top Democrats on the committee. Dana, we're anxious to get his reaction.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
Congressman Schiff, thank you so much for coming out here. You really got under Trey Gowdy's skin. Was that your intention?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), SELECT COMMITTEE ON BENGHAZI: No. But I did think it was important to set up the context of the hearing today and the fact that - where this all began was when that Stop Hillary PAC submitted a bunch of signatures to us, calling for her to testify, and the fact that the committee has cancelled on all the other witnesses since January. This is the only hearing they were really interested in. In fact, they can't even tell us if there're going to have hearings after this or who they would be with.
BASH: Now the arguments that Republicans have been making over and over again, we heard it from Trey Gowdy in there, very specifically is that this is not a prosecution. This is an investigation.
SCHIFF: Well, I think if you look at the cross examination he tried to do of the secretary and his reference to a courtroom, it looks like an awful lot like a prosecution. The only difference I think between this and a prosecution is, in a prosecution, you know where you're going. This committee has no idea where it's going apart from an interest in damaging Secretary Clinton.
BASH: Isn't that what an investigation is all about? You don't know where you're going. You let the facts lead you.
SCHIFF: No, no, no. Ideally, in an investigation, you know what your object is in the sense of what you want to try to find out. So we asked in the very beginning, is this about determining whether there was gun running? Is this about determining whether there was a stand down order? Is this about whether there were any interferences in security? What are we going to be looking for? What is the scope? And they could never say. That is the quintessentially definition of a fishing expedition when you don't even know what you're looking for.
BASH: Now, we did hear a couple of new things, namely - I don't think anybody at our shop had heard the fact that the secretary had e-mailed the Egyptian prime minister and - the day after the attack saying that she was sure that it was not based on the video. What does that tell you? SCHIFF: Well, what it tells you, if you look at the context, that day
she received intelligence that there hadn't been a protest, that it was an assault on the compound. The following day, though, she received intelligence, as did we, that there were protests at the consulate at the diplomatic facility and the assessment of the intelligence agencies thereafter until we got the video from the compound itself was that there was a protest.
[14:05:06] So if you look at the secretary's comments to the Egyptian prime minister, at the time she made those, that was the intel she had received. And we have that in documentary form. If you look at later when she knew more, she was able to say more. But that just tracked the flow of intelligence as we were getting it and as the secretary was getting it.
BASH: Mr. Schiff, thank you so much for coming over. I appreciate it.
And I'm actually going to turn now to our Republican - let you go eat your lunch.
Congressman Roskam, I'm not sure if you heard what Mr. Schiff was talking about, but effectively what he and Mr. Cummings, Elijah Cummings, (INAUDIBLE) told me earlier is that they are just convinced that this is a partisan move, particularly Elijah Cummings says that he's now more convinced than ever that this is about trying to torpedo Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
ROSKAM: I don't think that's true, and here's why. Trey Gowdy went to Elijah Cummings frequently in this process, right? Right when the process was constituted, when the committee was formed, and he made this offer in writing. He said, Elijah, you go and establish the timeframe for Secretary Clinton to come in. you know, it was obvious that she was going to be running for president. You choose a date that's convenient for her. You reach out to the Clinton campaign and set it up. And Gowdy said, the only thing that we ask is that we have 30 days after all the documents have been disclosed. I mean you know and I know that the State Department has been (ph) a complete disaster. We got e-mails even as late as 48 hours ago, that relates to Ambassador Stevens. So the reason that we're in this highly charged political season is because of the administration itself.
BASH: But, you know, when you hear Trey Gowdy at the very end, before the lunch break, really hammer away at the whole question of the e- mails that she got from a controversial political figure from the '90s, Sidney Blumenthal, it does beg the question, who cares? What does it matter? And except if it's about her and her political viability and her political future.
ROSKAM: Well, here's why it matters. Sidney Blumenthal, a political figure, as you pointed out, of some controversy, had more access to Secretary Clinton than the ambassador did. In other words, the ambassador was not able to e-mail her personally and yet Blumenthal sent her hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of e-mails on Libya. And it's significant because she was reading them, she was acting on them, she was forwarding them on and so she has made Sidney Blumenthal relevant. This is not just some character from the past. He has a past. But this is somebody who she herself has made relevant.
BASH: Mr. Roskam, thank you so much.
ROSKAM: Yes, thank you, Dana. Thank you.
BASH: Thanks. OK, thank you.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: All right, Dana, thanks very much.
They're getting ready for part two. There he is, the chairman of the select committee, Trey Gowdy, he's all - been in his seat there basically the whole time. It's been almost an hour since they broke up for lunch. They're getting ready, in the next few minutes, to resume the questioning of Hillary Clinton on what happened in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.
Much more of our special coverage right after this.
[14:12:16] BLITZER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the Benghazi Select Committee hearings. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
We've been listening to both Republicans and Democrats, they're getting ready to continue the questioning of the former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, on her handling of the deadly events of September 11, 2012.
On that day, the anniversary of 9/11, four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, were killed. Other Americans killed, Sean Smith, an information officer, Glen Doherty, a former Navy SEAL who was working as a security contractor, and Tyrone Woods, also a former Navy SEAL. They were killed when terrorists stormed the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi and then a separate CIA annex.
This time there were no outbursts, no direct outbursts during the course of the hearing. No banging on the fists on the table like we saw back in 2013, looking at video from 2013 when Hillary Clinton was testifying at that - that time. But the session, the first three and a half hours, did end on a very, very acrimonious note. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (R), BENGHAZI COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: Would the gentleman yield?
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), BENGHAZI COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I'll be happy to, but you - you need to make sure the entire record is correct, Mr. Cummings.
CUMMINGS: Yes, and that's the - and that's exactly what I want to do.
GOWDY: Well, then go ahead. CUMMINGS: Well, I'm going to tell you. I move that we put into the
record the entire transcript of Sidney Blumenthal. If we're going to release the e-mails, let's do the transcript -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I second -
CUMMINGS: That way the world can see it.
GOWDY: Well, we -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I second that motion.
GOWDY: We - we didn't - we didn't -
CUMMINGS: The motion has been seconded.
GOWDY: Well, we're not going to take that up at a hearing. We'll - we'll take that up in a business (ph) meeting (ph).
CUMMINGS: Mr. Chairman, I have consulted with parliamentarian and they have informed us that we have a right to a recorded vote on that - on that motion. We want - you know, you -
GOWDY: Well, I'll tell you what, let's do this.
CUMMINGS: You asked for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Well, that's what we want to have. Put - let the world see it.
GOWDY: Why is it that you only want Mr. Blumenthal's transcript released. Why don't you want the survivors -
CUMMINGS: I'd like to have all of them released.
GOWDY: The survivors, even their names, you want that?
CUMMINGS: Let me tell you something now -
GOWDY: Do you want that released?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, so there you get a flavor of how that first three and a half hour session ended. They're getting back in the room right now. Trey Gowdy, the chairman, Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat. It was pretty tough, Jake Tapper, at the very end right there, that bitter exchange that was going on between the two leaders of this select committee.
JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN'S "THE LEAD": Yes. And I think they both have points. I mean there should be as much information without compromising security, of course, in terms of survivors who are - who are private contractors or with the CIA. All the testimony should be released. We should - both the public and the media should get - should get their hands on it.
Some other interesting points that were made during this first part of the hearing had to do with Sidney Blumenthal. We were talking about the rabbit hole that they seem to get stuck in. But - but I think one of the larger points that they're trying to make, Republicans on the committee is, one, Ambassador Stevens did not have direct access to Secretary Clinton, but Sidney Blumenthal did. And Chairman Gowdy's obviously very disdainful of Secretary Clinton's friend, Sid Blumenthal. He, at one point, referred to Sidney Blumenthal's drivel, which the ambassador had to check out on occasion. So that's one of the things.
[14:15:17] And then, two, there seems to be this suggestion that Sidney Blumenthal had business interests in Libya and that, in some way, was shaping administration policy. I haven't seen any evidence for the second part of that, the policy part of it, although certainly Sidney Blumenthal did have business interests there. I don't again know what that specifically has to do with how we can improve security for our diplomats abroad in the future and also why the administration seemed to blame, even though there was counter veiling (ph) evidence, the attacks on a video instead of on terrorism.
BLITZER: The session is about to resume. You see the chairman there in the middle of the screen, Trey Gowdy. Hillary Clinton is now back in the - in the hearing room in the Longworth House office building. She's surrounded behind her with her legal advisors, some of her other senior advisers as well. We're told she'd been preparing for this session for days now, if not weeks, anticipating their questions.
And so far, Jake, she's been very, very calm and collected in the course of some pretty tough questioning.
TAPPER: Yes. And let's - let's remember that the whole point of congressional testimony, whether it's Democrats in the majority or Republicans, the whole point is, obviously, to have these big moments like a - like in courtroom dramas where somebody admits the truth or somebody loses their cool. That's often what is going - is gone for. That's often what members of Congress, Democrats or Republicans, are trying to get the witnesses to do.
And Secretary Clinton, so far, has been very measured. She has not taken the bait, although we have seen lots of squabbling between democrats and republicans and Chairman Gowdy VERY strongly at times taking umbrage with accusations from Democrats on the committee who are - they are, the Democrats are saying this is all a partisan witch hunt and Gowdy saying it's not true, we're trying to get to the truth, we're trying to find out what happened, pointing out that there is evidence that has come forward. Even if there have been seven or eight previous investigations, there is evidence that he and his committee have been able to find that previous committees have not been able to find, which is true, and to the credit of the committee in that respect. And yet still as of right now, the Republicans still have a lot of work to do to convince, I think, the public that these - at least according to polls, that these hearings are not based in partisan attempts to damage the woman who will likely be the Democratic presidential nominee.
BLITZER: The left part of your screen you see the chairman, Trey Gowdy, and the ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings. They're both standing and the other committee members seem to be seated now. I think they're just getting ready to begin part two of this hearing. This should go on for the next several hours, we're told. These Republicans have a lot more questions.
If we anticipate what the Democrats are going to do, they're going to be coming to Hillary Clinton's defense during the course of the next round of questioning. That's what happened during the first three and a half hours. I anticipate much more of the same during the second part. The chairman, I think, is getting ready to convene. Let's listen in.
GOWDY: The hearing will come back to order.
Madam Secretary, with your indulgence, we will take up one little house keeping matter.
The question is on the motion of the gentleman to include the document in the record. The Chair opposes the motion.
Those in favor of the motion may signify by -- so by saying aye.
Those opposed by no.
CUMMINGS(?): Roll call, Mr. Chairman.
CLERK: Mr. Chairman, I ask for a recorded vote.
GOWDY: A recorded vote has been -- has been requested.
Chairman's says -- the Chairman's vote -- what?
GOWDY: Yeah, I'm sorry. Secretary, call the roll.
CLERK: Mr. Westmoreland?
CLERK: Mr. Westmoreland votes no.
UNKNOWN: Mr. Who? I'm sorry. I couldn't hear.
CLERK: Sorry, Mr. Jordan.
CLERK: Mr. Jordan votes no. Mr. Roskam?.
CLERK: Mr. Roskam votes no. Mr. Pompeo?
CLERK: My. Pompeo votes no.
CLERK: Mrs. Roby votes no.
CLERK: Mrs. Brooks votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Cummings votes yes.
CLERK: Mr. Smith votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Schiff votes aye.
CLERK: Ms. Sanchez votes aye.
CLERK: Ms. Duckworth votes aye.
GOWDY: The clerk will report.
CLERK: And Mr. Gowdy.
CLERK: Mr. Gowdy votes no. Yeas five, no's eight.
GOWDY: And the motion is not agreed to. Madame Secretary...
CLERK: My apologies, sir. It was seven.
GOWDY: Motion's still not agreed to. Even South Carolina math can figure that out.
Madame Secretary, before we broke, there was a question asked that I thought was a fair question, which is why was I talking about Mr. Blumenthal's e-mails.
I do think that's a fair question. I think it's an equally it fair question to ask why you were reading Mr. Blumenthal's e-mails? I think both are fair. So, I want to go to June of 2012, which is an interesting time period to look at. It's started. Charlene Lamb was an employee of the State Department and she sent an e-mail, which you may be familiar with, tab 56, I'm not going to read it, but it's the tab 56, where she described Benghazi as a soft target, attacks on Americans not staffed adequately. It's a very haunting e-mail to read.
It was actually three months to the day when our four fellow citizens were killed. And that is on June the 7th, 2012. Also on June the 7th 2012, your deputy chief of staff, Mr. Jake Sullivan is e- mailing Ambassador Stevens, asking the ambassador to look at a memo Sidney Blumenthal sent you. And in fact, Mr. Sullivan writes for Ambassador Chris, checking in with you on this report, "any reactions?"
All right, that is on exactly the same day that I believe our ambassador papers were accepted in Libya. It's the day after an IED attack on our compound and Chris Stevens is being asked to read and react to an e-mail by Sidney Blumenthal from your deputy chief of staff.
Now, this is what he's writing on the 7th, this is after he's been turned down on a request for more security. This is our ambassador, "Appreciate you giving this proposal, even if the conclusion was not the favorable for us. We'd be interested in pursuing the other avenue you suggest, high threat trained agents. Best, Chris."
So, I have this contrast in my mind. A ambassador newly in place. It's a day after an attack on our facility. Your deputy chief of staff is sending him an e-mail from Sidney Blumenthal, asking him to take time to read and react to it. And then to the best of my recollection, that's forwarded to you.
So help us understand how Sidney Blumenthal had that kind of access to you, Madame Secretary, but ambassador did not.
CLINTON: Mr. Chairman, because I think that your question does help to clarify matters.
Chris Stevens e-mailed regularly with Jake Sullivan one of my closest aides in the State Department. He could have e-mailed to Mr. Sullivan knowing that it would have been immediately responded to on any issue that was of concern to him, and he did not raise issues about security on that day or other days. And I think it's important to recognize that when an ambassador is at
post overseas, especially as experienced a diplomat as Chris Stevens, he knows where to pull the levers, where to go for information, where to register concerns.
And I think he did exactly as one might have expected. He dealt with security issues through dealing with the security professionals who were the ones making the assessments. And I think that Ambassador Stevens understood completely that that is where the experts were, and that is where anything he requested or anything he was questioning should be directed.
GOWDY: Speaking of experts, who is Victoria Nuland?
CLINTON: A very experience diplomat. She served as our Ambassador to NATO, appointed by President George W. Bush. She served as one of the advisers as a Foreign Service Officer delegated to the White House for Vice President Cheney. She served as the spokesperson for the State Department during my tenure, and she is currently the Assistant Secretary for Europe under Secretary Kerry.
GOWDY: She wrote this to the Ambassador on June 13, 2012, that is a week after the facility was attacked. It is only a handful of days after he was turned down on a request -- specific request for more security.
"Chris, I know you have your hands full, but we'd like your advice about public massaging on the state of violence in Libya over the past 10 days."
So she's asking him for help with public massaging. Jake Sullivan (ph), which is the other half of the question that I don't think we got to. I -- I understand that Chris Stevens was a rule follower. I understand that. I've got no qualms. My question was, actually, not why Chris Stevens didn't contact you, but why did Jake Sullivan (ph) send Chris Stevens a Sidney Blumenthal e-mail to read and react to? On a day after the facility was attacked, the same day he was denied a request for more security. And instead of e-mail traffic back and forth about security, it's read and react to a Blumenthal e-mail.
CLINTON: Well, I think any ambassador, if one were sitting before the committee, would say that they handled a lot of incoming information and requests.
Some of it was about what was happening in-country, some of about it was about what was happening back in the United States. And Chris felt strongly that the United States needed to remain in and committed to Libya.
So he was concerned that there might be a -- a feeling on the part of some, either in the State Department or elsewhere in the Government, that we shouldn't be in Libya. And he was adamantly in favor of us staying in Libya.
So part of what the discussion with him and -- and Jake Sullivan (ph) and others was, you know, how do we best convey what the stakes the United States has in staying involved in Libya would be? And I thought that was, you know, very much in keeping with both his assessment and his experience.
GOWDY: Well, I appreciate your perspective, Madame Secretary.
Let me share with you my perspective. And if you need to take time to read a note, I'm happy to pause.
CLINTON: No, I'm just being reminded, which I think is important that remember, Chris spent the vast majority of his time in Tripoli, not in Benghazi. So a lot of what he was looking at is how you deal with not only those in authority positions in Libya, who were based in Tripoli at that time, but also representatives of other governments and the like.
And I think it is fair to say that anytime you're trying to figure out what's the best argument to make, especially if you're someone like Chris Stevens trying to put together and make the best argument about why the United States should remain committed to Libya and others, as well, he's going to engage in conversations about that.
GOWDY: Well, with respect, Madame Secretary, no matter what city he was in in Libya, having to stop and provide public massaging advice to your press shop, and having to read and respond to an e-mail sent by Sidney Blumenthal, it doesn't matter what town you're in. He needed security help.
He didn't need help messaging the violence. He needed help actually with the violence. You...
CLINTON: No... GOWDY: ... Have said several times this morning that you had people and processes in place. And I want to ask you about an e-mail that was sent to you by another one of your aids, Ms. Huma Abedin (ph). That would be Exhibit number 70 (ph) in your folder.
She e-mailed you that the Libyan people needed medicine, gasoline, diesel and milk. Do you know how long it took you to respond to that e-mail?
CLINTON: Well, I responded to it very quickly.
GOWDY: Yeah. 4 minutes.
My question, and I think it's a fair one, is the Libyan people had their needs responded to directly by you in 4 minutes. And there is no record of our security folks ever even making it to your inbox.
So if you had people and processes in place for security, did you not also have people and processes in place for medicine, gasoline, diesel, milk?
CLINTON: You know, Mr. chairman, I've said it before, I will say it again, I'll say it as many times as is necessary to respond.
Chris Stevens communicated regularly with the members of my staff. He did not raise security with the members of my staff. I communicated with him about certain issues. He did not raise security with me. He raised security with the security professionals.
Now, I know that's not the answer you want to hear because it's being asked in many different ways by committee members. But those are the facts, Mr. Chairman. Ambassadors in the field are engaged in many different tasks. They are basically our chief representative of the president of the United States, so they deal with everything from, you know, foreign aid to security to dealing with the personal requests for visas that come from people in the country they are assigned to.
And Chris Stevens had regular contact with members of my staff and he did not raise security issues. Now, some of it may have been because despite what was implied earlier, there was a good back and forth about security. And many of the requests that came from Embassy Tripoli, both for Tripoli and for Benghazi, were acted on affirmatively. Others were not.
That is what an ambassador, especially in a diplomat as experienced as Chris Stevens, would expect, that it would be unlikely to be able to get every one of your requests immediately answered positively.
So, yes, he had regular contact with my aides. He did not raise security with me. And the security questions and requests were handled by the security professionals.
GOWDY: Madam Secretary, with all due respect, those are two separate issues. Who Chris Stevens had access to is one issue. Who had access to you and for what is another issue, because you have said you had people and processes in place.
You also have people and processes in place for people who want to send you meaningless political advice. You also have people and processes in place for people who want to inquire about milk and diesel fuel and gasoline. You also have people and processes in place for people who want to provide insults towards folks you work with in the administration.
All of that made it directly into your in-box, Madam Secretary. That is my question. My question is: How did you decide when to invoke a people and process and who just got to come straight to you? Because it looked like certain things got straight to your in box, and the request for more security did not.
And while you're answering that, I want to inform and instruct why I'm asking it. You have mentioned the ARB on a number of occasions again today. This was not the first ARB. We had one after Kenya and Tanzania. And that ARB could not have been more specific. The secretary of state should personally review the security situation of our embassy facilities.
That ARB put the responsibility squarely on you. So with respect to that previous ARB recommendation, and in contrast, what did make your in box versus what did not, did you personally review our security situation as the previous ARB required?
CLINTON: Well, let me see if I can answer the many parts of your -- of your question, Mr. Chairman.
Yes, personal e-mail came to my personal account. Work-related e-mail did as well. And I also relied on a number of my aides and staff members, as well as experienced Foreign Service officers and civil servants who were similarly engaged in gathering information and sharing it.
And as I said and I will repeat, Chris Stevens communicated with a number of people that I worked with on a daily basis in the State Department. So far as I know, he did not raise any issue of security with any of those people. He raised it where he knew it would be properly addressed. If he had raised it with me, I would be here telling you he had. He did not.
And so I think it's important to try to separate out the various elements of your question, Mr. Chairman, and I will do my best to continue to try to answer your questions. But I have said before and I will repeat again, Sid Blumenthal was not my adviser official or unofficial about Libya. He was not involved in any of the meetings, conversations, other efforts to obtain information in order to act on it.
On occasion, I did forward what he sent me to make sure that it was in the mix. So if it was useful, it could be put to use. And I believe in response to the e-mail you pointed our originally from Ambassador Stevens, he actually said it rang true and it was worth looking into.
So I think it's important that we separate out the fact that Mr. Blumenthal was not my adviser. He was not an official of the United States government. He was not passing on official information. He, like a number of my friends who would hand me a newspaper article, would buttonhole me at a reception and say "what about this" or "what about that" -- were trying to be helpful. Some of it was. A lot of it wasn't.
GOWDY: The chair will not recognize the gentlelady from California, Ms. Sanchez. SANCHEZ: Thank you.
Secretary Clinton, I listened very carefully when Chairman Gowdy was questioning you in the first round of questioning. I have to say I was kind of surprised. We waited more than a year to finally get you up here to testify. We spent almost $5 million and we interviewed about 54 witnesses.
And when the chairman finally got his chance to question you, he asked you -- he quibbled, actually -- over the definition of the word "unsolicited." As if that wasn't bad enough, then he doubled-down on this idea that Sidney Blumenthal was your primary adviser on Libya, a claim that we heard The Washington Post awarded four Pinocchios.
He said on Sunday on national television that he had zero interest in the Clinton Foundation and other topics, but then he just spent his full time, the full questioning time in the first round asking you about the Clinton Foundation, media matters, and other topics that don't really have anything to do with the attack that occurred in Benghazi. And my own sense of incredulity was really, really -- is this why we've asked you to come to testify about that?
The overwhelming sense that I get from the Republican side of the aisle is they seem to be arguing somehow that Sidney Blumenthal had access to you, while Ambassador Stevens did not. Do you -- do you think that that's an accurate statement?
CLINTON: Of course not, Congresswoman. You know, you didn't need my e-mail address to get my attention. In fact, most of the work I did, as I said this morning, had nothing to do with my e-mails. It had to do with the kind of meetings and materials that were provided to me through those who were responsible for making decisions on a whole range of issues.
And as I just told the chairman, if Ambassador Stevens had grave concerns that he wanted raised with me, he certainly knew how to do that.
SANCHEZ: He could speak to your office or your staff?
SANCHEZ: Or you directly on the telephone?
SANCHEZ: Did he ever ask you for your personal e-mail address and you turned him down (inaudible)?
CLINTON: No, he did not.
SANCHEZ: The other thing that I'm hearing from the other side of the aisle is they're arguing that there was this, you know, security was, you know, it was sort of decomposing in eastern Libya. And that no security improvements were ever made to the Benghazi outpost. That's not a true statement, is it? CLINTON: No, it is not.
SANCHEZ: In fact, there were many security enhancements that were asked for that were actually made, although there were others that were -- other requests that were made that were not fulfilled. Is that correct?
CLINTON: That's correct.
SANCHEZ: OK. The other line of questioning that sort of surprises me is that over the course of this investigation, Republicans have repeatedly asked why the U.S. was still in Benghazi on the night of the attacks. During the select committee's first hearing, which was more than a year ago, the chairman posed the following question: "We know the risk of being in Benghazi. Can you tell us what our policy was in Libya that overcame those risks? In other words, why were we there?"
And the Accountability Review Board had already answered that question. It explained that Benghazi was the largest city and historical power center in eastern Libya. It further went on to say although the rebel-led Transitional National Council declared that Tripoli would continue to be the capital of post-Gadhafi Libya, many of the influential players in the TNC remained based in Benghazi.
And the ARB went on to explain that Ambassador Stevens advocated for a U.S. presence in Benghazi and his status as the leading U.S. government advocate on Libya policy and his expertise on Benghazi in particular caused Washington to give unusual deference to his judgments.
Secretary Clinton, do you agree? Was Ambassador Stevens a leading expert on Libya policy? And did you also give his opinions a lot of weight and respect?
CLINTON: Yes, I did, Congresswoman.
SANCHEZ: Do you recall Ambassador Stevens advocating from the ground up for continued U.S. presence specifically in Benghazi?
CLINTON: Yes, he did.
SANCHEZ: In fact, Ambassador Stevens's e-mails, many of which this committee has had for more than a year, confirm what you've just stated.
Mr. Chairman, I would ask unanimous consent to enter this document into the record, and it's being passed out to the members of the committee.
GOWDY: Without objection.
SANCHEZ: Secretary Clinton, I understand this e-mail is not one that you have seen before as it was not addressed or sent to you, is that correct?
CLINTON: That's correct.
SANCHEZ: In the e-mail before you, then-Special Envoy Stevens wrote this proposal for continued presence in Benghazi at Embassy Tripoli -- as Embassy Tripoli was reopened following the fall of Gadhafi. He suggested two potential models. Option A was a slimmed- down compound and Option B was a virtual presence with zero full-time State Department staff in Benghazi.
Special Envoy Stevens sent this e-mail to Gene Cretz, then the ambassador to Libya, his deputy chief of mission and the director of the Office of Mahgreb Affairs. At the time, these career diplomats had a combined 83 years of foreign service experience. Would the recommendation of this team be given a fair amount of weight within the Department?
CLINTON: Yes, it would.
SANCHEZ: And is that the way that it should work that the views of experienced diplomats should count in decision making?
CLINTON: They certainly did to me, and I think that should be the practice. SANCHEZ: In the same e-mail, Special Envoy Stevens states, quote, "my
personal recommendation would be Option A," which was the option for a slimmed-down compound. He then notes a few of his key rationales for wanting to stay. In an earlier September 6th, 2011 e- mail advocating for a continued Benghazi presence, Special Envoy Stevens provided more reasons including the opportunity to, quote, "monitor political trends and public sentiment regarding the new Libya. The revolution began in eastern Libya and the view of these 2 million inhabitants will certainly influence events going forward."
Secretary Clinton, do you agree with Ambassador Stevens' view that there were important reasons to have a presence in Benghazi despite the risks?
CLINTON: Yes, I do.
SANCHEZ: Other documents show that Ambassador Stevens continued to advocate for a continued U.S. presence once he became ambassador to Libya. In fact, at the end of August, just two week before the attacks, he was working on a proposal for a permanent presence. As that proposal explained, quote, "a permanent branch office in Benghazi to provide a permanent platform to protect U.S. national security interests in the region and to promote a stronger healthier and more vibrant bilateral relationship with the new, free and democratic Libya."
While Ambassador Stevens took seriously the significant security incidents in Benghazi that occurred in June, he never decided that the risk outweighed the benefit and he never recommended closing the post in Benghazi. He worked with his counterparts to try to manage that risk as best they could.
In its report, the Benghazi Accountability Review Board found, quote, "the total elimination of risk is a non starter for U.S. diplomacy given the need for the U.S. government to be present in places where stability and security are often most profoundly lacking and host government support is sometimes minimal to nonexistent."
Secretary Clinton, this is such a difficult issue, the balancing of interests. From your perspective as a former senator and secretary of State, how do you best ensure that we are striking the right balance going forward?
CLINTON: Well, Congresswoman, thank you for that question because I do think that's what we should be talking about, and several of you have posed similar questions.
I think you do start with the best expert and experienced advice that you can get from across our government. And as you rightly point out, Chris Stevens never recommended that we close Benghazi, he advocated for keeping Benghazi open. And as you rightly referred to this e-mail for a particular configuration that would fulfill the needs of our country being represented there.
Obviously, you have to constantly do this balancing act that I referred to earlier today, and most times we get it right. In fact, the vast majority of times, we get it right. With Benghazi, the CIA did not have any plans to close their facility. The opinion of those with the greatest understanding of our mission, our diplomatic mission in Benghazi was exactly the same, that we should not close down, we should not leave Benghazi. And it's, you know, obviously something that you have to be constantly evaluating in all of these difficult unstable spots around the world.
But I appreciate your bringing to the committee's attention the -- you know, the strong opinion of the man who knew the most and was on the ground and who understood what we were trying to achieve in Benghazi, Ambassador Stevens.
SANCHEZ: And was it your understanding that he certainly understood the risk of being there?
CLINTON: He definitely understood the risks, yes.
SANCHEZ: Thank you. I yield back.
GOWDY: The gentlelady yields back. The chair will now recognize the gentlelady from Indiana, Ms. Brooks.
BROOKS: Secretary Clinton, I'd like to ask you a bit about your decision making and the discussions you had as it related to how long the Benghazi mission itself was going to last.
I'm putting up a map just because most of us really don't know much about Libya, don't know much about the geography of Libya. And as we've talked about these various communities, I don't think most people really realized. So I want to share with you that -- we know from my last round that Chris Stevens went into Benghazi in April of 2011, and I want to talk to you about what happened the rest of that year. And just because there was a lot going on, I thought it would be helpful to have this map.
So by mid-July, our government formally recognized the TNC as the official government of Libya, replacing the Gadhafi regime. And TNC was based in Benghazi at that time. And in August, after the Gadhafi government fell, Gadhafi went over into -- he left Tripoli where Gadhafi been headquartered, and he went into hiding in Sirte.
Now once that happened, the TNC moved their Benghazi headquarters over to Tripoli, and then in September, we re-opened our embassy in Tripoli and Ambassador Cretz returned; he had been evacuated previously. And Chris Stevens stayed in Benghazi. Does that sound like an accurate summary of the summer of 2011?
CLINTON: It does sound accurate, except I'm not sure exactly the duration of Ambassador Stevens' presence in Benghazi during those months.
BROOKS: Well, that leads to my next question. What was your plan for the mission in the fall of 2011 and going forward? What were the discussions you had and who did you have those discussions with about the mission of Benghazi going forward in 2011? CLINTON: Well, as you may have heard, Congresswoman, the e-mail that
Congresswoman Sanchez introduced into the record was from the fall of 2011. And there was quite a discussion going on between officials in the State Department, in the intelligence community, in both Washington and Libya about the path forward.
The Transitional National Council had been based in Benghazi, and there was a dispute even within the Libyans themselves as to whether they would split the government, whether the government would be located predominantly but not exclusively in Tripoli or as some were hoping predominantly but not exclusively in Benghazi. So this was all a very live subject that was being debated both in Libya and with respect to what our response would be in Washington.
So we, at Chris Stevens' strong urging and that of other of our experienced diplomats, wanted to maintain a presence in Benghazi in some form. We re-opened our embassy in Tripoli which had been the historical capital certainly under Gadhafi. But this was a constant discussion about what we should do when and where, and I think that's why this e-mail from Chris Stevens about his recommendations is so informative.
BROOKS: Well, thank you and I'll get to that in just a moment. But I have to ask you, I assume that your chief of staff Cheryl Mills was intimately involved in these discussions with you and with your top staff. She's one of your staff as you were referring to them, is that right?
CLINTON: Well, she covered a broad range of issues. I'm sure she was involved in some of the discussions, but she had many other responsibilities, so I can't say all of them.
BROOKS: I'd like to refer to you an update on Tripoli operations provided to Cheryl Mills on September 14th. And at the top of that two-page memo, assumptions for Benghazi in September were gradual winding down of operations over the next six months, transition to Tripoli only -- transition to Tripoli only by January 2012, no consulate. No consulate meant no consulate in Benghazi. This was in September.
Would that be fair and accurate? And would you -- were you in that briefing with Ms. Mills, or did she brief you about the fact that in September the gameplan was to shut down Benghazi?
CLINTON: Well, I think you have to look at that in context, Congresswoman. There was not an active plan for a consulate in Benghazi at any point during this period. That is not what the compound in Benghazi was. It was a temporary facility placed there to help us make a determination as to what we would need going forward in Benghazi...
BROOKS: Excuse me, madam secretary.
CLINTON: There was a strong argument that Chris Stevens and others made that they hoped eventually there might be a consulate, but there was never an agreement to have a consulate. BROOKS: And, in fact, it had been deemed a consulate, it would have
had a different level of security, is that correct, than a temporary mission compound, is that accurate?
CLINTON: Well, we have...
BROOKS: Is that accurate, that consulates have certain levels of security. There are standards, there are protocols. When it is a consulate, it gets a certain level of security.
CLINTON: That is the hoped-for outcome. That is not what happens in the beginning in many places, especially the hot spots and the conflict areas where a consulate is stood up.
BROOKS: Can you talk with me about the decision, then -- there is a briefing with respect to -- after the closing, rather, of the consulate in Benghazi by January of 2012. We know it didn't close. It did not close. You went to Tripoli in October of 2011. Ambassador Cretz was still there. How about Chris Stevens? Did Chris Stevens come over from Benghazi to see you when you went for the big trip in October '11?
CLINTON: I don't recall. I don't recall if he did or not. This was -- this -- this was about Ambassador Cretz, and Ambassador Cretz was the person that we were meeting with at that time.
BROOKS: What was your purpose for meeting with Ambassador Cretz if Chris Stevens was your expert in Libya?
CLINTON: Ambassador Cretz was an expert as well. Ambassador Cretz was our ambassador. You remember, as I mentioned to you before, he had been our ambassador, and then because he reported very accurately about what he observed regarding Gadhafi and Gadhafi's henchmen, when Wikileaks disclosed internal U.S. government cables and Gene Cretz's cables were publicized talking very critically about Gadhafi he was then subjected to threats and then we took him out. We did not close the embassy at that time.
So, he had returned to finish out his time and we were in the process of moving him to another assignment and nominating Chris Stevens to replace him.
BROOKS: But you didn't, during that one trip to Libya, you didn't talk to Chris Stevens, best of your recollection at that time?
CLINTON: While I was in Libya, I don't recall that. Of course we consulted with him in respect to planning the trip, as to who we would meet with, what we would ask for.
We were trying very hard to get people in positions of authority at that time in Libya to let us work with them on everything from border security to collecting weapons and trying to disarm the militias. We had a lot of business we were doing with them.
BROOKS: So going back to Miss Sanchez's e-mail with respect from John Stevens to Miss Polysheck (ph), it talks about Option A, as you've pointed out, slimming down the compound, and so he weighed in on -- in October he was weighing in on whether or not the compound should stay open.
But I'd like to direct your attention to an e-mail that's at tab four, dated December 15th from Chris Stevens.
And I might add for the record, we do not, still to this day, have all of Chris Stevens e-mails. We received 1,300 more this week. We received most of them last week. We don't have the universe yet of Ambassador Stevens e-mails.
But he e-mailed to a reporting officer who we know was in Benghazi still. He wrote, "Interesting. Has security improved in Benghazi in recent weeks? Also curious what you guys decided to do regarding future of the compound. He was in Washington, D.C., or back in the States during that time, and in December Ambassador Stevens, your soon-to-be ambassador, didn't know what was going to happen with the compound in Benghazi, how is that possible?
CLINTON: Well, Congresswoman, one of the great attributes that Chris Stevens had was a really good sense of humor. And I just see him smiling as he's typing this. Because it is clearly in response to the e-mail down below talking about picking up a few, quote, "fire- sale items" from the Brits...
BROOKS: Sure. Those -- those fire side items, by the way, fire sale items are barricades.
CLINTON: That's right.
BROOKS: They are additional...
CLINTON: That's right.
BROOKS: ... Requests for security...
CLINTON: That's right.
BROOKS: ... For the compound. That's what that fire sale was, because we weren't providing enough physical security for the compound, isn't that right?
So they're picking up a fire sale because other consulates are pulling out, other countries are pulling out.
CLINTON: Well, I thought it showed their entrepreneurial spirit, Congresswoman...
CLINTON: ... And I applaud -- I applaud them for doing so.
We did respond to a number of the security requests, the physical security requests. The posters that were up earlier this morning were only about the number of Diplomatic Security personnel (ph). You're talking about physical -- physical barriers, physical additions
to the compound. There were quite a few of those that were undertaken.
BROOKS: But how is it that Mr. Stevens did not know in December whether or not the compound was going to remain open?
BROOKS: Or do you -- or do you think that was a joke he was making?
CLINTON: Well, I think that if it -- if it were not an example of his sense of humor, it was also as part of the ongoing discussion about Mission Benghazi's future, which he went to great lengths to describe what he thought should be done.
You know, a lot of it was trying to decide, could we afford it? Could we maintain it? What did we need to have there?
So, yes, there was an ongoing discussion. And I think he knew he was going to be in line to go to Tripoli, and he wanted to know exactly what the decision was going to be about the compound.
He had weighed in, not only in that e-mail, but in numerous discussions with his colleagues back at the State Department.
BROOKS: And finally, Secretary Clinton, we know that the compound, the Benghazi Mission, was extended for yet another year. Because that same month your Benghazi point person here in Washington, Jeff Feldman (ph), sent a memo wanting to extend Benghazi through 2012, and he sent it to Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy (ph) who approved it.
Another high-level official who, by the way, for the record, State Department has given us none of Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy's (ph) e-mails yet -- same with Jeffrey Feldman (ph). Very high-level officials within the State Department.
Are you familiar with that memo sent on December 27th entitled Future of Operations in Benghazi, Libya (ph). Are you familiar with that memo? And if so, did Assistant Secretary Feldman (ph) discuss that memo with you at the time, and discuss extending the mission in Benghazi in December of '11?
CLINTON: I'm familiar that there was an ongoing discussion about the future of the mission in Benghazi...
BROOKS: A discussion between whom -- whom, ma'am? Who were all of the relevant officials in the State Department?
Help me with understanding...
CLINTON: Well, Jeff Feldman (ph) was one of them.
BROOKS: Ok. Who else?
CLINTON: Obviously, Chris Stevens was one of them. But there were many others who had information and expertise to add to it. And there was a recommendation that Benghazi be continued through 2012 as part of the continuing evaluation of whether or what we wanted to have on a more permanent basis in Benghazi.
BROOKS: And do you recall, were you in those discussions? Were you specifically in those meetings?
You've shared that you didn't move a lot by e-mail, that you had more meetings than briefings. Were you in those meetings about extending Benghazi through the end of the year?
CLINTON: There were certainly meetings in which I was advised about the process being undertaken as to determine whether Benghazi should be extended.
So, yes, I was aware of the process that was ongoing, and I was kept up to date about it.
BROOKS: And were there any minutes or any briefings...
GOWDY: General -- the -- the General Lady's time has expired.
CUMMINGS(?): Way over.
GOWDY: The Chair will now recognize a gentleman (ph) from Washington, Mr. Smith.
SMITH: I just want to clarify a couple of points.
First of all, Ambassador Stevens had access to you.
CLINTON: Yes, he did.
SMITH: In fact, we were -- we were here -- former -- I forget, I don't have the name in front of me, but ambassador in Russia said that, you know, he -- always had access to you, always had constant communication with you, never had your e-mail address.
CLINTON: That's right.
SMITH: I would hope that ambassadors would have more direct and immediate lines of communication, and Ambassador Stevens certainly did.
SMITH: And also, did Ambassador Stevens ever advocate either leaving Libya or abandoning Benghazi?
CLINTON: To the contrary, Congressman, he was a very strong advocate for staying in Libya, including in Benghazi.
SMITH: And I think, you know, what -- what we've learned here is, well, nothing, frankly, that we didn't know already. The security situation in Libya was dangerous...
SMITH: ... Without question. Would you say that Ambassador Stevens was unaware of any aspect of that?
CLINTON: No, I would not. I think he was very aware.
SMITH: So he knew the security situation in Libya quite well.
CLINTON: That's right.
SMITH: And yet -- and again, I want to be clear on this. In his communications with you, and he had many, even if he didn't have your e-mail address, did he ever say, you know, did he raise the security issue directly with you?
CLINTON: No, he did not.
SMITH: And, you know, being questioned, I mean, obviously, he chose to go to Benghazi. He, as you have described earlier, as gosh, all across the world today, diplomats are weighing the risks and the benefits in a lot of dangerous places. And he -- he had to do that. And he chose to go to Benghazi.
CLINTON: He did. And Congressman, ambassadors in the countries they are representing the United States in, do not as a practice ask permission from the State Department to travel in the country where they are stationed.
SMITH: And as well, they should not. They need to be in charge of their country.
I'd also point out, you know, on the question of e-mails, and which ones you've received and haven't received, you know, unfortunately, the State Department, which has been spending an enormous of time producing documents for this committee, cannot produce thousands of e- mails at the drop of a hat. And the committee chose to prioritize your e-mails, but also Ms. Abedin's e-mails, Cheryl Mills's e-mails, basically Sidney Blumenthal's e-mails to you -- they chose to prioritize those e-mails over the others. So the State Department is trying to get this information, but it is a question of the priorities of the committee.
Which brings me to the last point I'll make, and I won't take the full 10 minutes here, you know. There are a lot of accusations that have been made back and forth about things that have been said that were or were not true. I think the one thing that was said in this hearing that is clearly the farthest from the truth is that this is not a prosecution.
If you listen to the other side, this is unquestionably exactly that -- a prosecution. I mean, I'd ask viewers to just go back and listen to Chairman Gowdy's questioning of you before the first break and tell me that that's not a prosecution. And I think, again, I don't know if shame, embarrassment, whatever word you wish to choose, it shouldn't be a prosecution. You know, we have the, you know, former secretary of state here. We should be genuinely trying to inquire about how we can gather more information.
Now, the only interesting facts that seem to be brought up always reference back to the ARB, which just points up the fact that the information that we need -- and again, I really want to emphasize this was a serious, serious matter for the United States. A loss of four Americans is something we need to take incredibly seriously and investigate and we did.
And the information that we found out, as you pointed out, was not always flattering. There's no question that mistakes were made and we hopefully learn from them. But that was investigated. So what is the purpose of this committee?
And, you know, when you look at the e-mails they request; when you look at the questioning, the purpose of this committee is to prosecute you. And there will be time enough for that in the next year, you know, and people will do it. We don't need to spend $4.7 million in 17 months to simply prosecute you (inaudible).
Look, the security situation was well known in Libya. The security situation in Pakistan is well known. I visited the embassy in Yemen in 2009 about a month after someone had shot a rocket- propelled (inaudible) through the front door. The security situation there is incredibly serious, as well as it is in a whole lot of other places. And those are difficult decisions.
But the effort here today seems to be that somehow you personally decided not to do your job in Libya. OK? You were the -- apparently the advocate of the policy in Libya, apparently passionate about it, but not passionate enough to care about the security situation in Libya.
And, you know, Chris Stevens was incredibly passionate about Libya; wanted to make that country work. Now, it has proven very, very difficult. Do we want to go back to Moammar Gadhafi in charge? I don't think so. And just -- sorry to make a policy point, as long as I have a few minutes. You know, it's interesting to juxtapose Libya with Syria because, you know, just as many of my Republican colleagues are ripping apart the Obama administration and all those involved for choosing to remove Gadhafi, they are ripping apart the Obama administration, all the current officials, for choosing not to get involved in Syria.
What that points up, frankly, is the difficulty of the job that you had. And I thank you for taking it. I'm not sure I would be so bold. It is a very, very dangerous world, bad things are going to happen. And what we are witnessing today is if bad things happen, you know, you will be dragged out over months and months and months in this partisan atmosphere.
And that is very, very unfortunate. This needed to be investigated. I mean, you know, 9/11, we didn't investigate 9/11, you know, 9/11 2001, just to specify, with the length and depth that we have chose to investigate this.
So again, I come back to the central point, to the central problem with this committee. It is a prosecution. It is a partisan exercise. It is not trying to investigate and find out the truth. And again, we are now -- a little quick math here -- five hours into it; count the break, maybe four hours into it. We have learned nothing substantively new about what happened in Benghazi. Very serious things happened. They were investigated. They were reported. Mistakes were made. They were reported. But this committee in all that time and effort has unearthed nothing. Instead, they want to prosecute you and rip apart your every word, your every e-mail; two staffers five levels down from you who said something bad about you.
I mean, my goodness, I hope I don't ever have to undergo that kind of scrutiny. I would not survive it. And I don't think many would.
So, you know, I -- I hope in the hours that we have left to do this that we will try to circle back to learning something new, to figuring out how we can best strike that balance that you described, of being present in the world, but also trying to keep our people safe. Throughout the history of the country, I -- my aunt was actually a Foreign Service officer way back when. And, you know, you know, we have lost many diplomats, and she tells me about it all the time.
And, you know, it's a difficult balance. If we can get back to that, if we can learn something new about what happened in Benghazi, I think that -- that might be helpful. But right now, this committee is not doing a service to the four people who died or their families, or to preventing any of these future incidents from happening.
So, I thank you for your testimony. I thank you for your leadership and your willingness to do a very, very difficult job.
And with that, I yield the remainder of my time to the ranking member, Mr. Cummings.
CUMMINGS: Madam Secretary, a few million hours ago, we were talking about the diplomatic security folks on the night of the incident. And you looked like -- it appeared that you wanted to say a little bit more about that and what they, speaking of that -- the incident. Would you like to elaborate?
CLINTON: Thank you, Congressman. You know, I don't want anything that is said to me or about me to take away from the heroic efforts that the diplomatic security officers exhibited. The five men who were with Chris and Sean Smith risked their lives repeatedly and were themselves under grave threat.
I wanted to point out that even when we try to get it right, which we do try, sometimes there are unintended consequences and there is an example out of this tragedy. Coming out of previous assessments of attacks on facilities, we now have safe havens, safe rooms in facilities, particularly residences. The diplomatic security officers were able to get both Chris and Sean into that safe room.
Of course, the idea behind the safe room, why security experts advocated for them, was to protect our -- our civilians, our diplomats from attacks like the one that was occurring. The attackers used diesel fuel to set the compound on fire. And the safe room was anything but safe. I'm sure the committee members know that neither Chris Stevens nor Sean Smith died from injuries directly inflicted by the attackers. They both died of smoke inhalation.
And one of the recommendations in this ARB report is that when we have safe havens, we need to have equipment that will enable people that are safe within them to withstand what happened in Benghazi. The lead diplomatic security officer who was with both the ambassador and Sean Smith endeavored to lead them to safety through a wall of black smoke.
He wanted to get them out of the compound interior up to the roof, where they could be out of the fire, and also out of the attackers' assault.
He, himself, nearly died of smoke inhalation. When he looked around to make sure that both Sean and Chris were with him, he couldn't find them. Rather than proceeding and saving himself, which would be a natural human instinct, he turned back into that black diesel smoke desperately trying to find Chris and Sean.
He did find Sean, and Sean had succumbed to smoke inhalation, and the Diplomatic Security Officer managed to take Sean out of the building. He could not find Chris Stevens.
One of the horrors of the -- hours after the attack -- was our failure to be able to find where the Ambassador was.
We hoped against hope that he had somehow gotten himself out of the compound and that was -- he was alive somewhere, maybe in the back. And additional efforts by the Diplomatic Security officers, and then eventually by the CIA reinforcements that arrived to find his body, or to find him, hopefully, were unsuccessful. And they had to withdraw because of the continuing attack back to the CIA Annex before we knew what had happened to the Ambassador.
We were desperate, and we were trying to call everybody we knew in Benghazi, in Libya -- get additional help.
What appears to have happened at some point later, is that Libyans found Ambassador Stevens, and they carried him to the hospital in Benghazi. And Libyan doctors labored nearly two hours to try to resuscitate him.
And I -- I mention all of this because I want, not just the Committee members (ph), but any viewers in the public to understand that this was the fog of war. That the Diplomatic Security officers, and then later the CIA officers responded with heroism, professionalism as they had been trained to do.
We thought things would be safe once they took refuge in the CIA Annex, and, as we know, even though that was a highly fortified, much more secure facility than our Diplomatic Compound, and one that we had nothing to do with in the State Department, it turned out also to be a target for the militants, which is where the two CIA contractors, Mr. Woods and Mr. Doherty, died.
But in looking at all of the information, the Accountability Review Board and, particularly, Admiral Mullen -- who was focused on what happened, what the security personnel did that night -- came out agreeing that they were heroic and they did all they could do to try to save their colleagues' lives.
GOWDY: The gentleman yields back.
Madam Secretary, I appreciate you going through their heroism. I really do.
It is -- it is moving to hear from -- and -- and, frankly, it infuriates me to hear folks to my left, who don't raise a single whisper about spending $50 million to train five ISIS fighters. But, god forbid, we spend one-tenth of that to give some answers to the family members sitting on the -- on the first row.
So, I appreciate you discussing their heroism while some of my colleagues discuss money.
With that, Mr. Pompeo.
POMPEO: I -- I -- I'd actually add for that (ph). I think, you know, Mr. Smith gave a soliloquy. I think it was elegant, but, more importantly, I think it was representative of the behavior of the Democrats on this panel since May of 2014.
Not one finger, not one question for a witness.
They say they want to get at the truth, but the truth of the matter is, they spent most of their time today -- anybody can rewind the tape and find this -- they spent most of their time today attacking members of this committee and this process, and, I regret that. I think that's a violation of their duty to the country and, most importantly, their duty to the families.
I want to go back to a couple things I talked to you about a bit before, Madam Secretary.
So -- Ambassador Stevens didn't have your e-mail. Is that correct? Your personal e-mail?
CLINTON: I'm sorry, what did you ask me?
POMPEO: Ambassador Stevens did not have your personal e-mail address, we've established that.
CLINTON: Yes, that's right.
POMPEO: Did he have your cell phone number?
CLINTON: No, but he had the 24-hour number of the State Operations in the State Department that can reach me 24/7.
POMPEO: Yes, ma'am. Did he have the fax number? CLINTON: He had the fax number of the State Department.
POMPEO: Did he have you home address? CLINTON: No, I don't think any ambassador has ever asked me for that.
POMPEO: Did he ever stop by your house?
CLINTON: No, he did not, Congressman.
POMPEO: Mr. Blumenthal had each of those and did each of those things. This man upon who provided you so much information on Libya had access to you in ways that were very different than the access that a very Senior Diplomat had to your -- to you and your person.
I'd -- I'd ask -- I had a picture up here a bit ago of a man named Wissam Bin Hamid (ph).
You said you didn't recognize who he was.
Were you ever briefed that he was present at the compound the night that Ambassador Stevens was killed?
CLINTON: We're trying to track down the basis of your question, Congressman. We have no information at this time.
POMPEO: My question is a yes-or-no question, it's pretty simple.
CLINTON: I don't -- I don't have any information that I can provide to you, yes or no, because I know nothing about this question.
POMPEO: So -- so -- the question is were you briefed? And the answer is?
CLINTON: We don't know anything about it, so how could I have been briefed about something we know nothing about?
POMPEO: Great, thank you. Are all ARBs created equal?
CLINTON: Well, there have been 19, including the one that we impaneled after Benghazi. They've all been led by distinguished Americans. They've all been set up in accordance with the -- the laws and rules that the Congress established when they created the legislation to establish ARBs.
So, I assume, in those respects, they are created equal.
POMPEO: Yes, ma'am. You know, I'm asking -- I asked a simple -- a pretty simple yes-or-no question, I guess. And I'm happy to let you expand, and I'm happy to bring breakfast in, but when I ask a yes-or- no question it's -- it'd sure be helpful if we could get to the answer. This is a pretty -- it wasn't a trick question at all.
Are the recommendations of each ARB worthy of equal treatment?
CLINTON: Well, they are certainly worthy of follow-up by the Department, and I believe that they have been. POMPEO: There was an ARB -- please, if you would put up the poster,
please. There was an ARB in 1998. You -- you said this before in your testimony.
200 folks were killed. Here's what its recommendation said, it said "Special Mission Security Posture that was inadequate for Benghazi, and was..." Excuse me, this is from the most recent one. I want to know if you agree with this. "... Special Mission Security Posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place."
Do you agree with the statement from the current ARB?
CLINTON: I accepted the recommendations of the current ARB.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, my question is if you agree with it?
CLINTON: I don't think that's a relevant question, Congressman. I think the question is, I accepted their recommendations, and obviously their recommendations were based on their very thorough investigation and analysis. So, clearly I endorsed the entire board's work.
POMPEO: In January 2014, Senator Feinstein -- noted conservative -- said in her report, "The incidents at the TMF and CIA were likely preventable." Do you agree with that statement from Senator Feinstein's report?
CLINTON: Well, I would like to think that anything of that magnitude and the loss of life could have, in some way, been preventable.
I think that what the ARB recommended were steps to try to enhance our ability to prevent future attacks.
POMPEO: Let's go back -- I want to go back. Now I have the right poster up. I apologize for that.
In 1998 here's what the ARB said. It said, "The Secretary of State should personally review the security situation of Embassy Chanceries (ph) and other official premises, closing those which are highly vulnerable and threatened."
You've told us all day today that you don't think you should have been involved, quoting again from the ARB, personally reviewing security. How do you square that?
CLINTON: Well, there are a couple of important points to make about this, Congressman.
First, I made a number of decisions to close Embassy Chanceries (ph) and other official premises based on security.
I closed the Embassy in Tripoli. I had to evacuate all of the Americans out of Libya. We had to, you know, lease ferries that came from Malta. We closed embassies and other facilities when we had a strong consensus recommendation that it was necessary to do. So, that is -- that is a statement of secretarial responsibility. Now, with respect to looking at every security request, how high should the wall be, whether there should be barricades placed on the east or the west side, that is handled by the security professionals.
So, clearly, I closed embassies. I recommended that embassies and other facilities be closed. So I understand what that point is.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, this is a yes-or-no question, do you think you complied with what the ARB in 1998 said, and personally reviewed the security at Benghazi?
CLINTON: Well, that's -- that is not what -- my understanding of the 1998 ARB.
POMPEO: It's just words, Madam Secretary, they're right there.
CLINTON: And I just answered. I personally reviewed security situations of chanceries and other official facilities that were recommended because they were highly vulnerable and threatened to be closed. And we closed some. Some we were able to reopen, which is kind of part of the process.
With respect to the 1998 ARB recommendations, by the time I became secretary, having succeeded two secretaries who served during very dangerous and threatening times, there was an assessment made -- that I certainly was briefed into -- that we had to look at how best to professionalize the security and the expert advice that we were receiving.
That was exactly what I did, and I went further than that. I created a new position, a deputy secretary for resources and management. I also had recommended after our ARB the deputy assistant secretary for high threats.
So, this was a constant discussion about how to make us secure. But not whether or not the secretary of state should decide on the height of the barricades. I think that's where we may not be fully understanding one another, Congressman.
POMPEO: I think we under...
CLINTON: Of course...
POMPEO: ...I think we understand each other perfectly.
CLINTON: ...specific questions about closing embassy chanceries and other official premises that were vulnerable and threatened, of course, they came to me. I had to make the decision.
Deciding whether the wall would be 10 feet, 12 feet, whether there would be three security agents or five, that was the province, as it should have been, of the professionals.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, Here's another one from the 1998 ARB. Quote, "first and foremost, the secretary should take a personal and active role in carrying out the responsibility -- ensuring the security of the U.S. diplomatic personnel abroad." Do you believe you complied with that requirement from the 1998 ARB?
CLINTON: Yes, I do. I believe that I had established a -- a process, and I -- you know, I said earlier today, State Department and our security professionals have to be 100 percent right.
And I think that, you know, what happened in Benghazi was a tragedy and something that, you know, we all want to prevent from ever happening again. But there were many, many situations, many security issues that we had to deal with during the four years that I was secretary of state.
And I did leave what I hope will be a very important additional position, namely the deputy for high-threat posts, that now will focus solely on what are considered the highest-threat places in the -- in the world for our personnel.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, I hope you can understand the difference between creating a deputy under assistant secretary and America's senior diplomat getting involved in personal security.
The amount of resources can be moved, the speed at -- with which they will move, rested only in your hands.
CLINTON: Well, I just respectfully disagree...
POMPEO: I've led organizations myself.
CLINTON: ...with that, Congressman. It's been my experience that you want to find people who are dedicated 100 percent to security.
You don't want a secretary or anyone dipping in and out, maybe making decisions based on factors other than what the professionals decide. At least that is my very strong opinion.
POMPEO: Yes, ma'am, leaders lead.
I want to -- I've just got a few seconds. In all of the materials that have been produced to us today, I have not yet found the document that was prepared at your request for post-Gadhafi planning. Did you have such a document prepared prior to the time that Mr. Gadhafi was removed?
CLINTON: We had a number of documents. We had a -- a long list of areas that we were working on and the process for following up on those areas.
I don't know if it was one document or a dozen documents, but we had a lot of work that was ongoing, both at the state department and at USAID.
POMPEO: And did you ask for those documents to be prepared? Do you know if you had a team working on that, or if it was something that was happening of its own accord?
CLINTON: We -- we had a number of people who were working on that. There were -- as I said, I sent both of my deputies out to Libya to meet with the Libyans.
You know, we can do all the planning we want in Washington, but it's very important to ask the Libyans both what they want and what they expect from us. And so we had an ongoing dialogue that lasted over many months.
POMPEO: Yes, ma'am, I agree with that. We'll get a chance to talk about that in a bit. I yield back.
GOWDY: Gentleman yields back. The chair will now recognize the gentlelady from Illinois, Miss Duckworth.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Secretary Clinton, I'm -- apologize. My line of questioning will probably be a little bit boring because I'm going to get in -- into some details that actually have to deal with security and how we can better safeguard America's diplomats now and onwards.
From, you know -- I have to say that the ARB conducted by Admiral Mullen, a man of great military pedigree and -- and -- and long service to this nation -- quite honorable, brave service -- as well as Ambassador Pickering, I thought, was well conducted and well thought out.
And, in fact, don't just take my word for it. I'm a pretty low- ranking member of the House, but -- but McKeon, the Republican chairman -- longtime Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, also, you know -- and never once in our committee hearing did I hear him malign the work that was done in that ARB as we on our committee also looked into what happened.
So I want to look at some of the findings from -- from that ARB. And -- and I want specifically to examine the failures of the Blue Mountain Libya security guards and the February 13 (sic) militia on that exact day, September 11, 2012.
My understanding is, in Benghazi, neither the host country's militia forces nor the state department's private local guards were capable of defending our personnel. These poorly trained forces either did not show up, they retreated in the face of danger or simply lacked the necessary tools to fight back effectively.
I want to learn the lessons of Benghazi and hold everyone accountable, not just the State Department, but every agency involved, as well as Congress, ourselves, and this committee itself. For implementing significant comprehensive reforms that will prevent future tragedies.
So, you know, looking at the work that I've done on Armed Services Committee and on oversight government reform, I've been consistently concerned with the cost and consequences of federal contract mismanagement. Costs the American taxpayers a lot of dollars.
So I want to look at the State Department's policy of awarding local guard contracts using an -- a very inflexible contract vehicle known as the Lowest Priced Technically Acceptable, or LPTA, vehicle. I think that should have red -- raised red flags here in Congress.
When life and limb are at risk, such as when buying body armor for our troops overseas or barriers for our embassies, I don't know that Lowest Priced Technically Acceptable is the right vehicle.
So, can you discuss a little bit, why is it that the State Department appears to have awarded local guard contracts in Libya using this contracting method?
CLINTON: Congresswoman, I think that's another very important question. I -- I think the State Department, like much of the rest of the government, often feels under pressure to go to the lowest price, whether or not that lowest price is the best contract.
And we had a lot of challenges, not just in Libya, but in many places around the world, trying to work to find the right contractors to provide static security for a lot of our posts and facilities, to find more kinetic contractors who could be the front line of defense, since we -- as we discussed earlier, we're stationed in so many places where there were not American military that could be called and quickly respond.
So I would like very much, and perhaps there could be a working group with Armed Services and Foreign Affairs and others to look to see whether we couldn't get a little more flexibility into this decision making.
Because the -- the February 17th militia was viewed by the CIA, which had vetted it, as well as by our diplomats, as a reliable source for kinetic support. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't. And the static support proved to be not very useful at all on that night.
So I think you're -- you're really raising an important issue about how to get more flexibility into the contracting, because we're not gonna be able to bring American military forces to every place where we are in a high-threat post, either because the military can't afford to do that for us, or because the host country won't invite us in.
And the other problem, as you pointed out, is that if the host country doesn't have any real resources, it's hard to know how much they can produce. That night, I was calling the president of Libya and demanding that he find any friendly militia, any friendly anybody, to show up and to support us.
When our reinforcements, the security reinforcements from Tripoli landed, a militia showed up and in fact kept them there until they had a big enough group to accompany them to the CIA annex. So it's a very unpredictable and even erratic process. And it starts with in many instances the lowest price. And I don't think that's always the best way to get a contract for security.
DUCKWORTH: I happen to agree with you. And I think, actually, the LPTA that I'm talking about, that actually sets very inflexible standards for specifically the Department of State. It's actually a law passed by Congress in 1990. So when you talk about maybe some sort of a working group, Congress needs to do our part and maybe amend a 35-year-old law that actually forced the State Department to go with the lowest price.
Secretary Clinton, can you address what actions Congress can fix problems that have to do with host country-instituted stringent policies, given the use of private security guards? My understanding is that the country of Libya, the host nation in this case, did not allow your security contractors to carry firearms; that the Blue Mountain Guards -- I think the Blue Mountain Guards were not allowed to carry firearms. Is that right?
CLINTON: Yes, the Blue Mountain was not. Certainly, our diplomatic security officers were. The militia members who were supposed to be providing kinetic help for us were. So it was only the static guards that were not.
Now, I will say that, you know, some of those guards did stand their ground. They were basically run over. Several of them were injured the night of the attack. So I don't want to cast aspersions on all of them and the service they provided. But it was not adequate for what we needed then or really at any time.
DUCKWORTH: Are we facing that same type of restrictions in other nations as well, in other hot spots? We talked earlier about the 19 missions that are out there, with this type of issues with the LPTA and contracting, and as well as the host nation requirement?
CLINTON: Yes, we do. You know, the host nation gets to call a lot of the shots. Under the Vienna Convention, the host nation is responsible for providing security for diplomatic posts. But when a host nation is either unwilling to do so, as we do have in some places where we are present, or unable to do so -- because I do think with the Libyans, there was a desire to be helpful, but not a capacity to produce what we needed.
We have to really work hard to get the kind of support that is required. And, you know, in some cases we've been able to work out arrangements with the host country. Some we have just defied them and tried to be very quiet about what we were doing. In others, you know, we are prohibited. So it's a constant -- again, it goes back to that balancing of risk and reward that we're always doing.
DUCKWORTH: Going back to the ARB conducted by Admiral Mullen and Ambassador Pickering, how many of their recommendations did you as secretary of state accept?
CLINTON: I accepted all of them. They made 29 recommendations, Congresswoman. I accepted all 29 of them and began to implement them before I left the State Department. And I note that Secretary Kerry has continued that work. DUCKWORTH: Do you recommend for future secretaries and for this committee and other members of Congress some sort of a formal review process as we go onwards? I don't want there to be a review process that is triggered by death of Americans. This goes back to my earlier question about institutionalization of this process so that we make sure that our men and women in embassies right now are safe and that they're safe tomorrow and a year from now and 10 years from now.
What -- what needs to be done so that we can make sure that our four heroic dead did not lay down their lives in vain?
CLINTON: Well, Congresswoman, before the attacks in Benghazi, the Congress never fully funded the security requests that the administration sent to Congress. Following Benghazi, that has improved, but there are still areas where I think greater -- greater funding and responsiveness would be helpful.
It was unfortunate that we didn't get all the resources that might have enabled us to do more in all the high-threat posts before Benghazi, but I appreciate what the Congress has done since. The one specific recommendation that I would like to see the Congress act on expeditiously is the training facility that would be set up in order to train diplomatic security officers specifically for these high- threat situations.
And I think this is overdue. I know that on a bipartisan basis, representatives from Virginia, which is the state where the site that has been identified is found, have urged in a recent op-ed that the Congress act on this. I would certainly echo that as well.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you.
GOWDY: I thank the gentlelady.
Madam Secretary, they've called votes, but we're going to try to get in Mr. Roskam, and I'm going to recognize Ms. Brooks for 10 seconds before Mr. Roskam.
BROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And just to clarify for the record, I made a statement previously that we had received none of Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy's e- mails. We have received some through production of other individuals' e- mails. We have not received a full production of Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy's e-mails.
So I just wanted to clarify we do have some, but it is through other e-mail production.
Thank you. Yield back.
GOWDY: Yes, ma'am.
The gentleman from Illinois. ROSKAM: Thanks.
Secretary Clinton, can I just direct your attention to the screen. You're familiar with that clip -- we came, we saw, he died. Is that the Clinton doctrine?
CLINTON: No, that was an expression of relief that the military mission undertaken by NATO and our other partners had achieved its end. And therefore, no more American, European or Arab lives would be at stake in trying to prevent Gadhafi from wreaking havoc on Libyans or causing more problems to the region and beyond. ROSKAM: I want to direct your attention, and maybe direct the group's attention right now to something that -- that hasn't really been discussed. There's been this explicit criticism of Republicans being partisans today. But I want to direct your attention to what is actually going on with you and your team, many of whom are here today with you.
So Jake Sullivan, one of your close advisers that you just told us about, put together the tick-tock on Libya memo, and that was a memo that was all about you. It put together 22 different accomplishments and you were the central figure in all 22 of those accomplishments.
And I've got to tell you, it's really well put together. He uses language of action and initiative and leadership. Let me just give you a couple of these: HRC, that's you, obviously, announces, directs, appoints special envoy, travels to G-8, secures Russian abstention, secures transition of command and control, travel to Berlin, Rome, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul.
He's basically laying the foundation that the Libya policy is your policy. Essentially, he's making the argument that it's your baby. And you are clearly familiar with this timeline because in e- mail exchanges with your senior staff, you were not happy about it. And the part that you weren't happy about wasn't that you were the focal point, it's that it didn't include enough.
So you said, this is your e-mail, "What bothers me is that the policy office prepared the timeline, but it doesn't include much of what I did." Another time, you said, "The timeline is totally inadequate, which bothers me about our recordkeeping," and I'll come back to that in a minute, Madam Secretary. "For example, I was in Paris on 3:19 (ph) when the attack started; it's not on the timeline; what else is missing; go over as soon as possible."
Now, this timeline was put together, according to your senior staff, explicitly for an article that came out in The Washington Post entitled, "Clinton's Key Role In Libya Conflict." In fact, according to your staff, quote, "The comprehensive tick-tock memo Jake had put together was done in large part for the Warrick piece." It was a piece written by Joby Warrick at The Washington Post. And again, according to your staff, "the great detail Joby had came entirely from Jake." That's Jake Sullivan. "Joby didn't do any independent research." That's according to your staff. Now, this article is one of these articles that you read a couple of times -- it's -- if it's about you. Here are some excerpts, Washington Post, "A foreign policy success for the Obama administration and its most famous cabinet minister, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton." Or this. She went to Paris, there were no instructions from the White House on whether to support strong action in Libya, said a senior State Department official, yet within three days, the official said Clinton began to see a way forward. I think my -- my personal favorite is this. Clinton ignoring the advice of State Department lawyers, convinced Obama to grant full diplomatic recognition to the rebels.
Now, you and your team were pleased with the work that you did and the risks that you took, the leadership that you took. A Couple -- you know, a couple of hours ago, you told you told me, hey, I'm the diplomat here, I'm driving the policy. And isn't it true that you'd been thinking about getting political credit actually for months on this?
CLINTON: No. We were -- we were --
ROSKAM: Well, if that's your answer, let me draw your attention, Madam Secretary --
CLINTON: But, Congressman, let me please if I could.
ROSKAM: All right. Fair enough.
CLINTON: We were trying to make sure that what was written, because it's not always accurate in case you all haven't noticed in your own careers, what was written about a very important foreign policy effort by this administration was accurate.
This was all in response, as I understand it, to a reporter trying to ask questions and us providing the best possible information we could. In fact, trying to make sure that we ourselves had a good time line and that our record keeping was accurate. I think that is not an uncommon experience here in Washington. Somebody calls you up, says I'm writing a story. What can you tell us and you tell them.
ROSKAM: Well, Secretary Clinton, that's not all that was going on, though, isn't that right? Because you knew this was good for you. Because this is what you were writing in August, August of 2011. This is right after Tripoli fell.
You wrote, what about the idea of my flying to Martha's Vineyard to see the president for 30 minutes and then making a statement with him alone. Or you asked your staff how to convince the White House that this would be good for the president -- and these are your words, Madam Secretary -- it's a great opportunity to describe all that we've been doing before the French try to take all the credit.
In fact, your staff told you that they thought it would be a political boost for the president showing that he was huddling with you instead of being on vacation. And so you asked your chief of staff, Cheryl -- or Jake Sullivan asked your chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, to call Denis McDonough, now the president's chief of staff, to put together a full-court press -- I'll wait while you read Jake's note.
CLINTON: Thank you. Because I don't --
ROSKAM: Here's my question.
CLINTON: I'm waiting for a question.
ROSKAM: Well, go ahead. You finish reading and I'll start talking.
CLINTON: Well, one thing I wanted which -- since I don't have -- since I don't have what you're reading in front of me, Congressman --
ROSKAM: Here, it's tab 12.
CLINTON: Well, that has now been handed to me, and it's clear I wanted to make sure Chris Stevens, Jeff Feltman, DOD got credit. I wrote that. You did not quote that. Well, let's --
ROSKAM: This is all about the state of mind at that particular point. You were thinking about credit for you, isn't that right?
CLINTON: No, that's not. I wanted those who were part of this policy to be given recognition, and I also wanted to be sure that we had the president and the White House coordinating with us.
It was a very gutsy decision for the president to make, Congressman. It was not by any means an easy call, as I alluded earlier this morning. I was in that Situation Room many, many times watching the president have to balance competing interests, competing opinions trying to make a decision.
When he made the decision that the United States would support NATO and support the Arabs, there was no guarantee about how it would turn out. And I personally believe he deserved a lot of credit, as did Chris Stevens, Jeff Feltman, the Department of Defense and others.
We had a daily phone call, a daily secure phone call, that often included the president, included, you know, the generals' response -- the generals and the admirals responsible for our mission, included our top diplomats. This was a very important and challenging effort that we undertook in large measure to support our NATO allies. So I wanted everybody who had any role in it to be acknowledged.
ROSKAM: Well, and then on August 2011, you received an e-mail from Sidney Blumenthal, that's tab 11, in which he wrote this to you -- this is a historic moment, and you will be credited for realizing it when Gadhafi himself is finally removed. You should, of course, make a public statement before the cameras wherever you are, even in the driveway of your vacation home. You must go on camera. That was Blumenthal's admonishment to you.
CLINTON: And I don't recall doing that, just in case you're going to ask me.
ROSKAM: Yeah. But, I mean, look, the timing -- you forwarded Blumenthal's suggestion to Jake Sullivan and you were focused on how dramatic it would be. You were working to make this the story of the day, isn't that right? This is your e-mail to Jake, this is tab 11. This is your words, Madam Secretary.
Sid makes a good case for what I should say, but it's premised on being said after Gadhafi goes which will make it more dramatic. That's my hesitancy since I'm not sure how many chances I'll get.
So two months before the end of the Gadhafi regime and you're already planning on how to make your statement dramatic to maximize political gains, isn't that right?
CLINTON: Congressman, I think that what we were trying to do was to keep the American people informed about this policy. It was, as you recall, somewhat controversial. Now, there were Republicans as well as Democrats who advocated for it and there were Republicans as well as Democrats who were concerned about it. So I think as secretary of State, I did have an obligation at some point to be part of the public discussion about what had occurred. And I see nothing at all unusual about trying to figure out when would be the best time to do that.
ROSKAM: Isn't it true that your staff heard from the White House after the Warrick (ph) piece in the Washington Post that they were concerned, that is, the White House, of the amount of credit that you were getting as opposed to the amount of credit the president was getting. That's true, isn't it, Madam Secretary?
CLINTON: Look, the president's deserves the lion's share of the credit. He --
ROSKAM: Then why is the White House uptight that you were taking the credit?
CLINTON: I was often being asked that. The president had a lot of other stuff other going on. He was trying to, you know, rescue the economy, a lot of other things happening. So from my perspective the president deserves the credit. He's the one that made the decision. I was honored to be part of the team that advised him in and insofar as I was able to explain what we did and the import of it was, I was ready to do so.
ROSKAM: So when Jake Sullivan, tab 11, e-mails you and said that you wanted -- you should publicize this in all of your television appearances, they wanted to, quote, "have you lay down something definitive almost like the Clinton doctrine." That wasn't the Obama doctrine, is that right, Madam Secretary?
CLINTON: Well, I think what --
ROSKAM: This was the Clinton doctrine.
CLINTON: Well, look. I think that the effort we made, the way we put together the coalition, the way I put together the coalition that imposed sanctions on Iran, I think that there's a lot to talk about. I talked about smart power. You're talking about what I believe. I believe we have to use every tool at our disposal.
Lead with diplomacy, support with development, and when necessary, as a last resort, not a first choice, defense. So yes. Is that what I believe? It is what I believe. And I think that, you know, Libya was to some extent an example of that.
ROSKAM: And you were the author of the Libya policy. You were the one that drove it. was your baby. It was an attempt to use smart power and that's what you tried to do, isn't that right?
CLINTON: It certainly was something that I came to believe was in the interests of the United States to join with our NATO allies and our Arab partners in doing. The decision, as all decisions in any administration, was made by the president. So the president deserves the historic credit. What role I played, I'm very grateful to have had that chance, and I'm, you know, very convinced that it was the right thing to do.
ROSKAM: Well, you just recited the Clinton doctrine to us, and let me tell you what I think the Clinton doctrine is. I think it's where an opportunity is seized to turn progress in Libya into a political win for Hillary Rodham Clinton, and at the precise moment when things look good, take a victory lap, like on all the Sunday shows three times that year before Gadhafi was killed, and then turn your attention to other things. I yield back.
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, that is only a political statement which you well understand, and I don't understand why that has anything to do with what we are supposed to be talking about today.
GOWDY: Madam Secretary, votes have been called. So we will go vote and be in recess. And we will be back as quickly as we can.
[15:49:49] BLITZER: All Right. So round two now over. There you see the secretary of state, she is still, I guess, collecting her thoughts after this second round. They are having a little exchange over there with Peter Roskam, the Republican congressman from Illinois. It looked like a debate unfolding of whether or not the U.S. strategy which Hillary Clinton was one of the architects of getting rid of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya was worth it when all is said and done and after he was removed should she take a victory lap of sorts doing Sunday talk shows.
Let's bring in Gloria Borger as we look what's going on.
Gloria, round two. I don't know if we learned a whole lot right now, but it was more of the same what we saw in round one. Republicans going after her, the Democratic members of the committee defending her.
[15:50:33] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And Hillary having to defend herself. I mean, you just mentioned that exchange with the congressman. In which he tried to portray her staff as promoting her as the sort of savior of Libya for her own political future. And she said, you know, that's political. I don't understand why this has anything to do with what happened that night in Benghazi.
And I think we've heard this, you know, over and over again, Wolf, the thing that I found the most effective during this part of the session was Hillary Clinton actually talking about what it was like that evening here in Washington as they tried to figure out what was happening with Chris Stevens. And she described it as the fog of war. And she talked about how the professionals responded with amazing amount of heroism. But that was just one little moment because the rest of it was more of this kind of political by play with people saying why did Sydney Blumenthal have your personal email whereas Chris Stevens didn't have your personal email? Why were you listening to him as opposed to other people? And try to sort of portray this caricature, I think, of somebody that listens to Sydney Blumenthal as opposed to her senior national security advisers, et cetera, et cetera.
I think there is a debate to be had as we were talking about Libya policy and what happened in Libya and whether the administration's policy was right or wrong. But to sort of say that everything she did including giving Sydney Blumenthal her email address shows a lack of her overall judgment. It seems to be kind of a bridge too far.
BLITZER: We've had about five hours of testimony so far, Jeffrey Toobin, five hours of Q&A with Hillary Clinton. What have you learned as far as what happened that tragic day in Benghazi? What have you learned today that you didn't know?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Not a lot. I do think Gloria was right. There was that very dramatic moment in the last hour or so when Hillary Clinton talked about what it was like in Washington as they tried to figure out what actually had gone on and whether their colleagues had survived.
I thought the last exchange with the congressman from Illinois, Roksam, was -- I thought of Kevin McCarthy out there somewhere thinking, well, you know, I was right all along. Because this was a purely political attack on Hillary Clinton which may be an appropriate attack. They were -- he was saying, you know, you were just using the self-promotion. You were just trying to get publicity for yourself. That may be an interesting point for the campaign. But the idea that that has anything to do with Benghazi or the death of these four Americans really seems like a big stretch. So that seemed to me a distilled moment of what these hearings may ultimately really be about.
BLITZER: I want to bring in our political commentators. S.E. Cupp and Paul Begala as well. I will ask you the same question. S.E., you've been listening carefully five hours of Q&A so far with the secretary of state. Have we got a lot more information about Benghazi and what happened?
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think a couple things. We learned that she made that phone call to the prime minister of -- the person of Egypt.
BLITZER: Prime minister.
CUPP: Prime minister of Egypt, that night -- or the next morning and told them that they believed it was a terrorist attack. But I think, you know, people will hear what they want in these hearings. I actually thought that last line of questioning from Congressman Roskam was fairly effective. The idea that, you know, Clinton or the Obama administration or the state department at large was more concerned with politics both during the events as they were unfolding in the immediate aftermath and then subsequently year later I think is actually a legitimate line of inquiry. And, you know, certainly her detractors will think that he did a good job of making that distinction very clear.
To another extent though, I think the Benghazi cake is baked. If you were following this, you have made your mind up about what Benghazi means. You either decided it is a political witch hunt, or you've decided there are valid questions that she has yet to answer and we still need some more accountability. If you're not following this, I mean, I'm not sure that this is the thing that is going to change your mind about the election.
[15:55:21] BORGER: But is this hearing asking those valid questions?
CUPP: You know, I agree --
Well, it seems Republicans are trying to get at some of those questions. It seems like Democrats are more interested in absolving her of any responsibility and completely dismissing this as an unnecessary investigation, which I actually think does them a huge disservice.
TOOBIN: She has been answering questions for five hours today. She asked questions before. What question -- you say there are questions that need to be answered.
TOOBIN: What question has neglected to be asked so far?
CUPP: I mean, well, it's not that it's neglected to be asked. Jake alluded to this earlier. The question of why weren't these multiple security requests received, as she claims why weren't there, and why were they later in fact denied? Those are I think the most legitimate questions that we still don't have many answers to. She repeatedly points to the arm recommendations of how to prevent that from happening next time, but I don't think we have answers to why those requests were denied.
BLITZER: Let's bring Paul Begala into this conversation.
Paul, you are a Democrat. You work in support Hillary Clinton. You have a super Pac that you're actively involved in helping her. One of the most important points though that did come through in the course of the Q&A with Hillary Clinton was that the story that was put out after the September 11th, 2012, attack within a few days. Susan Rice was on the Sunday talk shows saying it was that anti-Mohammed video that inspired a crowd to go out and kill these four Americans, when Hillary Clinton that night told her family and her friends in that private email it was a terror attack by some sort of Al-Qaeda related group.
And the argument that these Republicans were making is they put that story out there because it was a month or so before the election, President Obama was about to get re-elected. They didn't know he would get re-elected, they didn't want to say Al-Qaeda was back in play.
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Which is nonsense. I can tell you as a political person when you have the incumbent president who just killed Osama bin Laden, frankly he could have prospered by greater terrorist threat. And the fact different messages coming out means there wasn't a conspiracy. If it was a conspiracy everybody would have said the same lie, right? And believe me, having worked in government the fog of war is almost always the most plausible explanation here (INAUDIBLE) than they had some conspiracy to lie. There was no conspiracy. There were some big mistakes and that's been well documented. But this partisan stuff is really not working for the Republicans.
BLITZER: All right, guys. Standby. We have a lot more. There's much more of this hearing coming up. They're in a break right now. The members of the house they're voting on the house floor. That's why you see the room there pretty empty. We're going to pick up our coverage. After a very quick break Jake Tapper and "the LEAD" will pick up our coverage. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "the SITUATION ROOM."
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to "the LEAD." I'm Jake Tapper.