US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify in House and Senate hearings on the findings of a probe into the Benghazi consulate attack. Clinton will likely be grilled over foreign security issues and US intelligence on the attack.
Although no date has been confirmed for the publication of the report, it is expected to be released next week. Upon its release, hearings will be held to discuss the findings and assess if Washington’s reaction to security threats to US diplomats in Libya was adequate.
Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen confirmed that Secretary of State Clinton would attend the hearing by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
“I look forward to discussing with the Secretary what corrective measures has the Department undertaken to address problems identified in the months following the Benghazi attack, including security of our posts, threat assessments, host government responsibilities, and coordination with other U.S. security agencies,” Ros-Lehtinen told reporters.
Clinton “has committed to testify before the committee before the end of the session” of Congress, announced Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Republicans have attacked the Obama Administration on repeated occasions for its handling of the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three aides. Much conjecture has surrounded the attack, with debate raging in the US prior to the November presidential elections over whether the attack could have been avoided.
In the days following the September 11 Benghazi attack, the Obama Administration said the attack involved extremists hijacking a spontaneous protest in the city, one that mirrored a demonstration in Cairo against the US-made anti-Islam video ‘The Innocence of the Muslims.’
Republicans criticized the White House’s version of events, alleging the administration covered up the protest’s links to al-Qaeda to protect Obama in the run-up to the November 6 presidential elections. President Obama had previously claimed that al-Qaeda’s power had diminished.
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs has said it “held several hearings and classified briefings with private sector experts, the Government Accountability Office, and officials from the Departments of State and Defense and from the intelligence community as part of its oversight responsibilities.”
The September attack on the US diplomatic post was the first time a US ambassador had been killed in the line of duty since 1979. Attackers used heavy artillery to lay siege to the compound in a five-hour shoot out. The attack came amid an upsurge of violent protest across the Muslim world, riding a wave of public outrage over ‘Innocence of the Muslims.’
Egyptian authorities have reportedly detained a suspect believed to have carried out a deadly attack on a UN mission in Libya. The suspect was identified as Muhammad Jamal Abu Ahmad, an alleged former member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Former CIA chief David Petraeus, who handed in his resignation in November over an extramarital affair, gave a closed testimony on Benghazi to the House Homeland Security Committee after relinquishing his post. Committee chair Peter King alleged there were discrepancies in Petraeus’ testimony in comparison to his first assessment of the attack. Petraeus also initially said the protest was an outgrowth from protests against the anti-Islam video, only to go back on this assessment, intimating it was an attack by extremist groups.
The US has dramatically reduced its diplomatic mission in Benghazi, withdrawing many of its staff.