Clinton to testify to lawmakers on Benghazi probe
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. REUTERS Photo
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will publicly testify before Congress next week about findings of an investigation into the deadly attack on a US mission in Libya, a US lawmaker said Wednesday.
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said Clinton would appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on December 20 to discuss the conclusions of the State Department probe into the Benghazi attack.
Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American staff were killed in the September 11 assault on the US consulate by dozens of heavily armed militants. The attack has since been linked to elements with Al-Qaeda ties.
The committee will hold an open hearing that "will hear testimony from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the State Department's findings of the Accountability Review Board and how to prevent attacks from happening again at other frontline posts," Ros-Lehtinen, the committee chair, said in a statement.
The much-anticipated hearing will start at 1:00 pm (1800 GMT) and will be closely followed after Republicans accused President Barack Obama's administration of failing to provide proper security, and seeking to cover up the Al-Qaeda links.
Clinton is also due to testify later this month before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, although no date has been publicized.
The State Department review, headed by veteran US diplomat Thomas Pickering, was set up in the days after the attack. It is not yet known whether the report will be publicly released before the hearing.
Clinton is expected to step down near the beginning of Obama's second term in late January, and the Benghazi crisis has figured prominently in the effort to find her successor.
Susan Rice, the US envoy to the United Nations, is widely considered a front-runner for the top diplomatic post. But she has come under sharp criticism from Republican lawmakers for her comments shortly after the attack, when she said it had stemmed from a protest against an anti-Islam film.
Rice has since admitted that the intelligence community's talking points on which she based her remarks "were incorrect in a key respect: there was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi." Clinton has said she takes responsibility for what happened in Benghazi and called the attack her "worst time" during her four years as secretary of state.
"It's something that is certainly terrible," she told ABC News's Barbara Walters in an interview airing Wednesday.
"We take risks in the work we do. The people who do this work are often in very threatening environments, whether it's our military or our civilian people around the world. I have just the most extraordinary admiration for them."