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clinton be held responsible and then some? it is a fraught day of questioning. it will prove to be a long day of questioning. we're looking as the possibility of six to eight hours of this. to start our coverage, andrea mitchell among our army of correspondents and analysts on capitol hill. andrea, tell us overall now what to expect today. >> i think both sides are primed, brian, as you might expect to be cool, calm and deliberate. the one thing that hillary clinton behind that facade in that house in a war room that has been set up all week with her husband, with john podesta, her campaign chairman, david kendall, her attorney from williams and connolly, all of her advisers, past, present advisers from the state department, from the political world, cheryl mills, jennifer palmieri, all of these people
have been saying they know she has to be above the fray. leave it to others is the advice to point out the political motivations pro or con of this committee. as you know, the republicans have damaged themselves in recent days and weeks and let democrats on the committee pick up the kuj ul on that. she's supposed to be the secretary of state, but a cabinet secretary aggrieved by the loss but also arguing today that we cannot pull back our diplomats from the front lines, that chris stevens, the slain ambassador, would be the last person to want that, it was he pushing to go to benghazi to always become more engaged. at the same time, that does open her up to the obvious question, why did you not do more to protect chris stevens who you knew, appointed and cared about so much. also here is the obvious
question about her e-mails. initial live they have to show, trey gowdy and his group, they have to show they are interested in the original premise of this select committee, which is supposed to cross all boundaries of other committees that had oversight over the cia, the state department or any other branch of the government involved here. they have to show through this committee process they're interested what happened before, during and after benghazi, less so that she had on a private e-mail service. if they focus only on the e-mail service, they will show they're not bipartisan. >> regardless of the fact that there have been reports written on benghazi and this is the longest standing committee of its kind in history, because it's such a fraught time,
because a sound bite lasts forever and a moment of frustration can boil over at a very bad time for her politically, she is running for president after all, i guess everyone on both sides has drilled and drilled and drilled questions and answers for today. >> absolutely. this is a morning important preparation and more fraught with difficulties than the democratic debate was. her team knows this is the real test. she has to show she could be a credibility president of the united states, that she did not miss key signals. it probably will not be good enough to say as the independent investigation concluded, led by tom pickering and mullen who did interview her, it will not be
good enough to say she wasn't in command because the cry of patricia smith, the mother of one of those who died, she was in charge of the state department, how could she not have known? she has to have a better answer than i wasn't in charge of security, that was the marines, the cia. i was talking to intelligence officials about this, one of the real issues here will be the talking points. remember the talking point and susan rice? remember the history here. susan rice is not the secretary of state instead of john kerry arguably because of the way she answered the questions on sunday morning television five days after benghazi. a lot of careers were affected by this. and also mitt romney running for president incorrectly talked about the video in egypt and all that. so we're going to have a lot of political history here and the question is how are both side going to handle it. >> andrea will be with us throughout the day. chuck todd with us here in new
york. last time hillary clinton answered questions, it was at the end of her tenure as secretary of state. famously we've said over and over she had flown a million miles, she was exhausted. she was wearing corrective eye glasses for an injury and the enduring sound bite from that day was what difference does it make. because the idea of this was a spontaneous demonstration, a planned demonstration, today is a chance to replay that predicate, get the message right, show firmness and toughness and show she can outlast the questioners? >> politically all she has to do is survive today. house republicans have nothing to lose and everything to gain because there is this preconceived notion that, first of all, the country doesn't like house republicans, we know that, and there is the politicization of this committee has hurt them. but they have everything to
gain. if they show statesmanship and get really serious and focus the questions on the essential question you asked right at the beginning, could this attack have been prevented? if their entire line of questioning is essentially under that umbrella, they gain credibility and it will help them politically. for hillary clinton, she cannot look like a politician up there. if she doesn't get rattled, even if her answers are unfulfilling, she survives. where i think she's vulnerable goes back to the question. there were two things in her purview, security. the best questioning on trey goudy has been on the a.r.b. report, they had a similar one 20 years ago after those embassy attacks, the first essentially osama bin laden attacks on
americans back in east africa. it said we have an embassy security problem. and second, the libya policy that created the initial vacuum. could it have been prevented? >> yeah, well, if we had gone in and gotten rid of gadhafi and put in a proper force to stabilize the country, would benghazi have been that unsafe? >> traditionally u.s. marines have protected embassies -- >> it was not an, that's right, sore of-- sort of a consulate. also what was that facility v s vis-a-vis the cia? this is where the benghazi
committee loses credibility. david petraeus was in charge of that. he has not been in front of this committee. why not the head of africon? it does make it appear that all they care about is one person, hillary clinton. >> well, we're hear from her less than an hour from now. amid all of this you see the clinton racedense on the left, you see the hearing room on the right. we have to go across town in washington for some breaking news at this hour of all things. jim miklaszewski on duty with that. jim, what do you have? >> brian, u.s. sources tell nbc news that at least one, maybe more, american special operations forces suffered casualties in a rescue attempt
in northern iraq. now, according to officials, these u.s. special operations forces launched this effort, this mission, to rescue a number of kurdish forces that were being held by enemy forces, presumably isis, in northern iraq. according to the officials, during the exchange, at least one, maybe more american special ops were wounded and according to one source, there may in fact be at least one fatality. in regard to the mission itself, the mission was a success, the hostages were rescued. when asked why would the u.s. military being rescuing kurdish hostages, senior officials are saying that it was because it came at the request of the iraqi government and, quite frankly, the u.s. is the only one that has the necessary capability and assets to conduct such an
operation among all the coalition forces there fighting isis in iraq. again, at least one, perhaps more u.s. special operations forces wounded, perhaps one killed. we expect further information officially from the pentagon sometime later this morning. and, by the way, these would be the first american casualties in the u.s. effort to fight isis and support actually the iraqi government there in iraq. and when asked about whether this would constitute boots on the ground, they say no because it is not a permanent deployment of american troops on the ground. we know that they have conducted special operations attempts to rescue americans in syria, for example, and it would fall in that rescue mission category as opposed to a direct combat operation, brian. >> jim, great work. jim miklaszewski at the pentagon
with this morning's breaking news. that will be in the background of today. we'll come back to it as need be. i want to show you what we're looking at in northwest washington, a neighborhood loosely referred to as embassy row, not that far from where the vice president lives. this is the house selected by the clintons years ago as their d.c. base. the suv idling out front. we should see hillary clinton getting into that car for the ride up to capitol hill. in the hearing room i'm looking at another feed that shows the chairman of this select committee, trey gowdy of south carolina, he is already there and in place. and, chuck todd, here's another question that is actually raised
by jim miklaszewski's reporting. i talked to someone yesterday who say he flinches every time we talk about special forces operations, a, he doesn't think we should be talking about it at all and, b, it brings up that day in benghazi. it turns out that rescue mission was ten hours away. >> it goes to the decision. can you call it iraq war syndrome in this country politically. there was no appetite to have some sort of ground force. but the fact is you cannot on one hand try to either advocate for regime change or participate in regime change in the middle
east without helping -- without having a plan to stabilize the situation after the regime chang. look, i understand iraq is one thing but this is -- frankly, the reason why we're in the quagmire we're in in syria was because of how poorly libya worked. had the change in libya worked where it was more like an egypt situation that was a little more stabilized, i have a feeling we would have gone in and tried to topple assad. but the reason the president got cold feet is what happened in libya. why do we have these special forces missions? because we don't have an appetite to put real troops on the ground. again, i understand that politically. but you can't advocate some policies if you don't have a support network underneath. >> it is 6:13 a.m. in san francisco, but the machinery of
"hard ball" travels wherever its anchor travels. this morning that would be chris matthews very early in the city by the bay. chris, as they say, what will you be looking for from today. >> i traveled because of a certain spouse of mine having her stanford reunion this weekend. i was invited and i'm here, even if it is 6:00 in the morning. i think chuck is brilliant with this, putting the macro with the micro. that was the major warning about assad, what comes after him, what comes after mubarak, what comes after hussein, it's always been worse. trey gowdy is a smart guy. he's divided the question into three, before benghazi, during the hours when he was killed and afterwards the way it was spun. with the republicans and this is
a bit of a political assessment, have been very good at conflating. they took 9/11 and turned it into an excuse to go to iraq. they swift boated john kerry, which bothered a lot of people when he threw his medals on to the ground, which somehow turned into his failure to do his duty as a soldier. they will take what i think will be a discussion of the first tranche that calls for help from the embassy in tripoli from chris stevens and turn that into a real life tranche two, she let the u.n. ambassador die, let her friend die because she didn't
get him help. and they already did that with the third tranche by putting susan rice on instead of putting on hillary clinton. you're going to see a lot of questioning by gowdy about the first question, how well did we prepare even remote installations, 400 miles from the capital. and then reference the fact that susan rice went on and spun it that sunday, i think they're going to bleed into the character question. all this stuff is not very important until you get into picking the president until you get to trust, which is a hillary clinton weak point in the polls, that she somehow dropped the ball, didn't do what she could have done to save him. i think you'll see a lot of that
inferen inference, by saying she didn't respond before the tragedy. >> we're told the political team of the former first lady, former secretary of state, former senator hillary rodham clinton will arrive. we'll take a quick break. >> today many americans are asking, indeed i asked myself, how could this happen? how could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? this question reflects just how complicated and at times how confounding the world can be. why do so many people choose aleve?
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we are back. in just about 40 minutes, things will get under way on capitol hill. trey gowdy is the chairman of the select committee. we're also about to talk to a member of the select committee, a member in the minority, congresswoman sanchez from california. congresswoman, some of the ground rules here, what's the
format, how many minutes each member, how many rounds and so on? >> we don't have a strict timeline of what will happen. there will be two-hour blocks of questioning. members will have individually about ten minutes apiece for questioning, and there will be several rounds. we don't know how many at this point. they're saying conservatively probably six hours of testimony, conceivably as many as nine or ten. it just depends. >> while you were talking, congresswoman, we're looking at this shot, bill clinton as if to stand on the front porch and wave good-bye as his wife goes off to work in this case a day's work in front of this committee, former president dressed casually, we see huma aidben, aid to hillary clinton. they'll start the trek up to capitol hill. presumably the former president
is going to watch on television. congresswoman, the now famous it's been called a boast to sean hannity on fox news by mr. mccarthy of california, did that lay bare the true underlying premise of this select committee? >> it was a stunning admission on behalf of the republican leadership, something that democrats feared and suspected that the day that the committee was empanelled and he confirmed it. it wasn't just mr. mccarthy making that stunning admission. other members, a former investigator who worked on the republican side all have confirmed that this is a politically motivated exercise chiefly to try to question hillary clinton's credibility and drive down her poll numbers in her race to be the president of the united states. >> there's been a lot of speculation as to what all of you members will do with your
allotments of time. will you use it to give a mini speech on the issues? will you use it to actually ask questions? democrats especially on expected to come back around and try to get the witness, hillary rodham clinton, back into an area they want. how do you reckon you'll use your time? >> first and foremost i'm hoping to use my time to push back on the many just outrage outs and patently false conspiracy theories that have been concocted by the republicans and allow the secretary to put those wild speculation and outright untruths to bed, to set the record straight and to explain exactly what is supported by the facts and the evidence and the testimony. there's been a lot made of new information that they have, but the fact of the matter is, none of it changes the conclusions of the eight different reports that have already been generated,
despite 17 long month, the longest in history of a select committee. there is no evidence that contradicts anything that has been contained in the prior eight reports. so there's nothing new here. there's just these continuing, you know, fantastic conspiracy theories. it's really just an effort to go after hillary clinton, to smear her and to try to bludgeon her credibility. >> do you think any good will come out of this at all? do you think this exercise will result in anything meaningful? >> i don't think. this has been thoroughly investigated. a lot of taxpayer money has already been spent to get to the bottom of what happened that evening and what can we do prospectively moving forward to ensure that our diplomatic core is safe. i don't think that there's anything new to be learned here. if there were, they would have called johnson petraeus, they would have asked for d.o.d. and
intelligence folks to come in for interviews. but instead they focused like a laser beam on hillary rodham clinton and i don't think that that's accidental. i think kevin mccarthy was very telling and i think republicans are now in the not enviable position of trying to, you know, salvage the credibility of the committee because we know now what it is. it's a political witch hunt. >> congresswoman linda sanchez, democrat of california, we'll see you during the questioning period later today. thank you, congresswoman, for being with us this morning. >> thank you for having me. >> which brings us to nicole wallace, former communications chief for the 43 white house, among other things. what did you make of that and what are you looking for from today's hearing? >> well, she's entitled to her opinions but i don't think that trey gowdy would have ever imagined at the inception of this that his committee would
have been so successfully smeared by someone who is not on the committee made. kevin mccarthy will not be asking questions. he made a comment of epic consequence by painting the committee as politically motivated. you've interviewed trey gowdy. there are no political motivations to this man in his entire career. he's a career prosecutor. he's the guy reading over every e-mail with a highlighter until his eyes go bad and he changes to stronger glasses. the fact they've been able to smear -- the fbi would not be investigating the server. the republicademocrats have to l
of not doing what the republicans are accused of doing, which is overreaching. >> mccarthy's comment, and he's a member of management after all, talked to the formation of the committee. he talked to -- >> he talked to the success of the committee. the question was what have you accomplished? and he said we brought her numbers down. but that want about the inception of the committee. the committee was conceived to investigate the death of four americans. >> well -- i'm sorry, the committee was conceived that speaker boehner needed to placate the government -- >> trey gowdy was put in charge of it -- >> because he was clean from the politics. >> and he has done nothing to dirty himself. kevin mccarthy has sullied -- >> the entire republican leadership because creating that committee in the wake of trying to solve a budget shutdown, they had to do that to placate the base.
so it was sort of a -- remember, john boehner argued again the crease of this. that's where they were initially wrong. there should have been a select committee on this within six months and it should have been a house senate select committee. this was that serious. that to me is the shame here that this is just the house republicans. this would have more credibility as one of the old fashioned -- look, when nicole and i were in high school, in junior high, we were watching the iran-contra hearings. there was something about that that felt large, it felt bigger and it was because it was bicameral and bipartisan. >> i agree. as long as we're going back in time, the selection of trey gowdy did bring to it the credibility it had until mccarthy made that comment. the democrats feel like they have a smoking gun in that comment. the truth is trey gowdy has gone
about his work as a prosecutor seeking facts. >> any good come out of today in. >> i think they both have a lot to prove. i think hillary clinton's chief political liability is that even when she's looking you in the eye and telling the truth, people sometimes wonder if she's parsing or if she's been overcounselled. people don't always believe her. she has to answer the questions honestly and not look like she's hiding something. that's her political flank she has to protect. the republicans have to be careful not to give the democrats any more ammunition. >> kelly, what can you add as far as atmospherics and what you've seen with your own two eyes so far this morning? >> reporter: brian, i'm often asked about why is this committee still working? i think it helpful to know a little bit behind the scenes. yes, there were several committees and each one has a different jurisdiction that worked on pieces of it but never really took it across the finish
line. as chuck set that political environment in which this committee was born because conservatives particularly had been animated about benghazi n since it happened, feeling questions hadn't been answered. so when they created the committee, they shifted the balance of membership so the republicans have more members. it seven republicans, five democrats to give it a bit more balance. one of the issues when i've been talking to members of the committee that they talk to is that the state department has been really under either just the weight of the job or slow to do it, whatever the reasons, to provide these e-mails ov oversometime. so the e-mails of ambassador stevens were just given to the committee over the past few weeks. it's taken so long because they haven't been able to get the document production out of the state department. important because the documents are a road map.
i've also been told the base of the republican party may not be happy today because it will be more focused on fact issues and to try to tone down this political atmosphere in which this committee lives. the day will be judged by lots of different perspectives but that's some of the backdrop that puts this all together. >> someone else would say can you figure out the base of the republican party, can you give us a list, those that's sometimes the same with the democratic party, too. a break in our coverage. we'll come back after this. >> the fact is we have four dead americans. was it because of a protest or was it because four guys out for a walk one night decided to go
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we are back, minutes away from the select committee on benghazi. steve schmidt was the senior adviser to the mccain effort for president, in addition to his other political efforts for the gop and the aforementioned chris matthews, early morning hours in san francisco. chris, to you first. i've been asking this question of our guests. anything good going to come out of today? >> well, if you're a hillary supporter, and a lot of democrats are these days, you'll probably say a draw goes to the champ, as we say in boxing. if someone's trying to knock her down today and fails, she wins. so a draw goes to her. i think in terms of the battle of headlines what the
republicans have to do and gowdy is smart enough to know this, get something that comes out for the afternoon newspaper time that makes the point they were doing something important here. maybe it's something from the chris stevens e-mails, something that said he asked for more reinforcement, even at the benghazi outpost, something that shows they've got something to talk about. otherwise for them the danger is going to be it's like gertrude stein visiting oakland for the first time, i went there but there wasn't a there there. >> on chris stevens, i heard people say i never met the guy but i knew who he was. meaning that if you know that kind of career diplomat, career public servant, an earnest kind of straight-up guy, everything we read about stevens, he did not like an entrance, he did not
like a fuss, he liked riding his bike, he liked going to the suke, the open air market, at least once a week. that has to play into today's conversation somehow. >> i'm so glad you said that. like me, he was a peace corps volunteer. he took the values of the peace corps into the foreign service as so many men and women do when they follow their volunteer service with professional service for the country. they maintain the idea of we have to learn the local language, we have to speak to real people and get beyond the cookie pushing and standing behind people in striped suits, we've got to get out of there and find reality and connect with it. chris stevens was a gutsy guy. he was a good guy, a peace corps guy turned foreign service officer andity took risks. i don't want to get into him, and what blame he had, but you
take risks in the world. really almost a mile from the nearest cia station, there was no real troops around him. but, see, he knew all that. i think he said my vibes are good, i got a good sense of the situation. things happen, horrible things happen, especially in a country without a real government. i think we have to put all that in perspective. it not like fort apache and we're fighting indians. it's not a fort. it's a little building with people there trying to get certainly done in terms of building a country and keeping peace. i thisnk we have to keep that i mind, not as some military installation being defended improperly. >> back to the panel of this and the backdrop for today, how much
damage did mccarthy do in talking about the creation of this panel and how it has brought hillary clinton's polling numbers down? >> look, politics surrounds this hearing because hillary clinton is the front-runner for the democratic nomination for the presidency of the united states. you go back to the iraq war hearings, nancy pelosi boasted about the fact that the democrats had held 77 hearings on the iraq war. >> it had been a tool of the majority forever. >> the exception to hearings over the last generation has been this one under the leadership of chairman gowdy, who has been impeccably fair. you have that shocking moment where the ranking moment, elijah cummings sharon mills and hillary clinton's chief of staff and she's talking about the respect and fairness shown to her by the committee, there have been no leaks. the chief counsel is a retired
judge army advocate, former three-star general. this has been an impeccable investigation in terms of trying to get to findings of fact on the chairman's behalf. that doesn't mean that there aren't other republicans out across the washington, d.c. landscape who view this very much through the political appropriate, how much damage can be done to hillary clinton in terms of the focus of the investigation on her tenure, the foreign policy issues that surround libya, that surround syria at a broader level and then the related issues that came out of this hearing, which is the advent of an fbi investigation with regard to the e-mails. >> andrea mitchell in washington, you want to get in on this? >> reporter: i'll just say there has been criticism. i expect steve schmidt on all of his political conclusions and on trey gowdy's role as a prosecutor, but there have been
issues in that they have held these hearings and net yesterday called panetta and other security people -- >> or gates. >> or gates. they called sidney blumenthal, who wasn't in the state department and inappropriately one would say sending her e-mails. there are all of these issues, a a aidben. so it has undercut the committee's credibility with a lot of people. i think they did a real service, most people would say, by uncovering the fact that she had a private server. so that is one of the issues. i think if they really focus today as you and chuck todd and the others were saying earlier, if they focus on what happened
before, during and after benghazi, were there security failures, that this secretary of state should have, despite past denials should have been aware of and should have been following up on, that is their best line of inquiry today, to carry out their claim that they're not being political. >> we have 17 minutes to go before the announced gavel start to this hearing. chuck todd, our job today is to try too be a viewer's guide of what folks are going to see. i'm looking at the wide shot of that committee there and the only member seated it elijah cummings of maryland. talk about him as a member of congress and talk about how recently the kind of cover came off of his relationship with trey gowdy. elijah cummings is the ranking member. >> it's interesting on him. he's been on one hand -- he's also ranking on government and reform. he and jason chaffetz, he had a
terrible working relationship with darrell isa and a terrific relationship with -- and originally had a good working relationship with trey gowdy. as this committee has gotten more political and the outside pressure as steve described, i think what trey gowdy has tried to do versus what the republican party i think overall under the umbrella has done, i think it's now made cummings decide, no, i'm here now to no longer give -- i don't want my credibility used to give this committee credibility, so instead i've going to use my position i think to question the credibility of the motivation of this committee. you know, it's interesting, there's actually a political decision hanging over elijah cummings's head by the way.
he is pondering may run and if he runs, he'll be the front-runner and he's delayed a decision until after this day. you can't help but wonder how much is his performance today -- i was a little disconcerted about something -- >> hillary clinton arrives. >> linda sanchez, he said her job was she was going to push back on some of the republican questions. i don't think that's good for the democrats. i think the democrats ought to take their time to talk about the facts as well from secretary clinton, not to play political shield for her. i think that there's a fine line for them. i thought her answer on that to me meant she was putting her party before -- there's legitimate congressional questions that should be asked here. again, i go back to something -- i think it's a shame this is not a house/senate select committee, where there is a sense of a larger jurisdiction here.
the fact that this was created by republican leadership from the very beginning i think hurt the credibility of this committee. >> luke russert is outside. you can see the flashes going off near the doorway, luke. that would put hillary clinton near your location a moment ago. >> that's right, brian. hillary clinton just walked by, obviously heavy security around her, her trusted aide in tail. she walked by one of the entrances of the committee room. she's in a holding room off to the left with her team. this is as tense a media scrum as i've seen on capitol hill. hillary clinton took into questions. i asked what she hoped to accomplish today, she simply smiled and moved forward. i've seen the republican committee members arrive, the democrats are here. this should get started soon
enough. i want to reiterate that this is in terps of a capitol hill hearing is as big as you can get. the staffs have been out here for two, three hours talking to reporters, intense media scrum pushed back against the wall, hillary clinton now in this holding room. i'll be interested to see when she actually goes into the hearing room itself. i presume that will be in the next ten minutes or so, brian. >> luke russert, thanks. chuck todd, we had politics yesterday. joe biden got out of the race. had to be time to get it out before this, get it out under the wire. and let's state the obvious, as we wait to see hillary clinton through this phalanx of people. she's running for president and she's about to face a withering day of questions again on this topic, where a misstep is a land mine and a misstep would be very, very bad news. last time the enduring sound
bite, "what difference does it make," was that a misstep? >> in the context of the question i think it was a human moment. i think, you know, it is certainly the sound bite and it really depends on how you use that sound bite -- >> and how you view that -- >> how you view that sound bite. that is a subjective question that we'll let people who wear their ideology on their sleeve decide. today politically for her is about survival. by the way, biden, i did understand he had to make any decision before this hearing because it would look calculating if he waited until after the hearing and would look more calculating on his part. but there is a little less pressure on her today. had she run,-- he run, i think would have amped up the pressure. one thing about her, she is a
preparer. she prepared zingers for martin o'malley, one of the 1 percenters. she's as prepared as any witness would be. she's a preparer. i would be surprised if she s m stumbl stumbles. but her goal today is survival, not to make news. if she makes news, it's a bad day for her. >> steve, you've done debate prep. we know hillary clinton has been preparing for every conceivable question they could come up with. we also know that committee members have been preparing their mock questions in advance of today. and if it sounds stage managed or it's all decided in advance, we haven't combined those two, the questions and her answers. >> the hearings and specifically
at this scale are hugely dramatically events in washington, d.c. and they are highly scripted on all side. now, as a candidate for president, there's no bad questions, only we get a window hillary clinton's character, her stamina where we get to see her ability to remain calm, composed and visualize her maybe sometime in the not-so-distant future sitting behind that desk, getting the proverbial 3:00 a.m. phone call. how does she act under pressure? and so we get to see some of that today. one thing is we talk about these hearings this afternoon is you look at all of the polling. one of the dramatic shifts in the polls over the last six months has been this desire particularly on the republican side against experience, against something that's been tested, tried in favor of the new. and so to some degree, here we are in 2015.
and yet again, we have a congressional hearing built around a clinton controversy. and the degree to which the american people look at this and say do we want to do this for four years? do we want to do this for another eight years into the future? does that weigh on her negatively from a political perspective? and i think that's one of the underlying currents that plays out here today as well. >> chris matthews, you still with us in san francisco? >> yeah, i think there's another factor here we've not mentioned in all these minutes and that's that she's a woman candidate for president and you might call her a front-runner at this point certainly in her own party. and i think the glass ceiling is there above her head, and she's the one to crack it. i think that's a very important part. we've got a history with anita hill in these hearings, how she performs will be very important to professional women out there watching this and politicians generally. they're going to see her -- she'll be there hounded by a bunch of guys. so we're going to see this thing, and we have to look at the gender perspective. i watch a lot of television,
brian. my favorite show is "the good wife," and i look at julianna margulies and people like tea leoni and the madam secretary. we're getting schooled in the possibilities of women taking the major positions in power in this country at the very, very top. condoleezza race, madeleine albright and now moving into the presidency. i think we'll see hillary clinton here for a lot of women at her age especially are going to be looking at her as their heroine. and so i know there's this fatigue about clinton fatigue, it's so real. but countering that is history. and i think that is a big part of even today. >> chris, i was watching your show last night. you and your guests were angered at something the clinton camp did or said politically after joe biden got out. >> yeah. >> of the race. you called it a flanking move. >> well, what happened was before it we were getting a lot of this forbidding language like if he runs, this is an assault on women because he would be undercutting her among moderate democrats and perhaps endangering her chance to inwith
the nomination. and that was really cutting -- a man shouldn't be doing that. all of a sudden the minute biden pulled out, it became -- james carville made the point that oh, we wish he had been in the race. well, that was a switcheroo. i thought that went from if he would have gone in, he would have been the villain. he would have been a good sparring partner. i thought that was a little too much fun for the clinton people. >> and yet politics, all of it, the presidential politics is going to be sitting there in this hearing room today. >> yes. >> as the unnamed committee member. so chris, one more time on the rules. we have several rounds of questions. we have majority, minority, ten minutes each, all the way through. and then we repeat that four times. >> yeah. you know, it's not going to be bobby kennedy against jimmy hoffa here. the way -- i wish they would do it in the old way where chief
counsel would just ram the thing through. we have to alternate in time. there are house rules about minority opportunities. and so it will go back and forth. some will go completely off course. we don't know how coordinated or how choreographed the republican majority of seven members will be in keeping a line of argument that makes some kind of sense. for example, as i said trey gowdy said they'll look at three different areas. what happened in the dangerous hours when the tragedy struck and what could have been done and wasn't done, perhaps. and then afterwards how it was spun on "meet the press" and the programs on the subsequent sunday. if it wanders in and out of those three areas, it will get hard to follow. so we'll end up with bites. i do think one thing. mandy grunwald who is a brilliant person in helping candidates including hillary clinton do well on television, they're going to try to create, i think, a video to trump that video we showed a few moments ago when she said what different does it make? that has been deleterious to the
clinton campaign. that hurts because that will be used in ads. i think there will be a moment, i think, i hope for the country that we hear a counterpoint to that from hillary clinton where she says that she tried to save her friend. she made every phone call she could make. she called everyone in authority. it was a drastic moment calling for drastic steps. she took everyone she could think of, and she failed, and she admits that, but she tried so hard. i think this is about character today. and i think she has to put the best part of her character on display. >> we're also going to hear a lot about cables, i would presume, cables from overseas postings into the home office at the state department, cables requesting if not more security, certainly a second look at security, cables saying they don't think they have a full contingent. and the former secretary of state is on the record as saying the state department receives 1.4 million cables a year. as she put it, all of them are
addressed to me at the top, meaning when she was secretary of state. and there is no way you could see them all. they're not -- no one pretends that the cables actually go to the secretary of state presumably except for those of very highest importance. this is a live look at the hallway outside the hearing room. and what's going on now from our eavesdropper, luke russert, is that hillary clinton was taken into a holding room, and into that holding room, trey gowdy has now gone to presumably greet her, and they will walk if not together, one after the other into the hearing room. we'll see them go back into the hearing room, and it's often customary for the witness to go up and shake hands with the panel. andrea mitchell, what is the
first thing you'll be looking for as we get under way this morning? >> reporter: hillary clinton had put out -- her team had put out some guidelines of what she was going to say in her opening statement. but i've talked to them this morning, and she is likely not to read from her text. i think she is going to try to speak more or less extemporaneously. and i wouldn't be surprised now that we know that some family members of the four americans who were killed are expected to be in that room, if she would make some reference to them. so we would expect that she would express her sorrow as to what happened. what i think you'll also see is a very, very carefully structured statement from clinton about the importance of diplomacy and of being on the front lines, as we say. what she does not know is what they have uncovered in those chris stevens e-mails that have just been released by the state department to the committee in the last couple of days. some only yesterday. several hundred only yesterday.
so if there is some, you know, land mine of chris stevens saying can't you help, you know, why haven't you sent more help? does the secretary know what's going on here? that's the kind of thing that they have to be alerted to. >> and that would be the closest thing to a kind of surprise witness today would be a -- >> reporter: exactly. >> it would be a surprise piece of evidence. and normal courtroom rules don't apply. so during discovery, you would share something like that with the defense? >> reporter: not necessarily. not some of these e-mails that came out in the last couple of days. you would think that they would, but there's a lot that they have been getting directly to the committee. and i'm not sure at all that it has gone through her lawyers. so i think there are some surprises that could come. and also, you know, there's been that awful, according to people on both sides of the aisle, pretty awful attack ad that came from the stop hillary political action committee which aired
during the -- four times during the democratic debate. awful i say because it was so painful to the families. at least three of the four families criticized it directly because it had the pictures of the dead americans, the gravestone of chris stevens, and had their voices basically saying, through a voice-over, you know, why didn't you do more to help me? that's the kind of attack ad that is the subtext here. there's also a movie. the michael bay movie that's about to come out which basically, many say, critics say, takes a very hard line about what hillary clinton did or did not do and whether the state department let these people, the security guards included, you know, left them completely exposed. so she's got a lot of noise out there that she's got to counteract. >> yeah, this is clearly the number one negative she is dealing with. as she runs for president. here's what we're looking at. there's one view of this down the hall, and then we can show
you the hearing room, as you might have seen when andrea was talking. trey gowdy, the chairman, has taken his seat. we're a minute away now from the posted time to be gavelled under way. all cameras are aimed, including every who brought a device to today's hearing, all cameras are aimed at that doorway. and we should see this in two parts. she'll be walking down that hall, and then turning into the hearing room and presumably we'll be getting under way. the flashes indicate what you see there. former secretary of state is now entering the hearing room. she should come into sight any moment. let's listen into this.
the committee will come to order. the chair notes the presence of a quorum. good morning. good morning, madam secretary. welcome to each of you. this is a public hearing of the benghazi select committee. just a couple of quick matters before we start. madam secretary, there are predetermined breaks, but i want to make it absolutely clear, we can take a break for any reason or for no reason. if you or anyone will just simply alert me, then we will take a break, and it can be for any reason or for no reason. to our guests, we are happy to have you here. the witness deserves to hear the questions, and the members deserve to hear the answers. so proper decorum must be observed at all times. no reaction to questions or answers. no disruptions. some committees take an incremental approach to decorum. i do not. this is your one and only notice. madam secretary, the ranking member and i will give opening statements, and then you will be recognized for your opening
statement, and then after that the members will alternate from one side to the other. and because you have already been sworn, we will go straight to your opening. so i will now recognize myself and then recognize mr. cummings and then you, madam secretary. chris stevens, sean smith, glen doherty and tyrone woods served this country with courage and with honor. and they were killed under circumstances that most of us could never imagine. terrorists pour through the front gate of an american facility, attacking people and property with machine guns, mortars and fire. it is important that we remember how these four men died. it is equally important that we remember how these four men lived and why.
they were more than four images on a television screen. they were husbands and fathers and sons and brothers and family and friends. they were americans who believed in service and sacrifice. many people speak wistfully of a better world but do little about it. these four went out and actually tried to make it better. and it cost them their lives. so we know what they gave us. what do we owe them? justice for those that killed them? we owe their families our everlasting gratitude, respect. we owe them and each other the truth. the truth about why we were in libya. the truth about what we were doing in libya. the truth about the escalating violence in libya before we were attacked and these four men were killed. the truth about requests for additional security.
the truth about requests for additional personnel. the truth about requests for additional equipment. the truth about where and why our military was positioned as it was on the anniversary of 9/11. the truth about what was happening and being discussed in washington while our people were under attack. the truth about what led to the attacks and the truth about what our government told the american people after the attacks. why were there so many requests for more security personnel and equipment, and why were those requests denied in washington? why did the state department compound and facility not even come close to meeting proper security specifications? what policies in spite of the escalating violence? who in washington was aware of the escalating violence? what precautions, if any, were taken on the anniversary of
9/11? what happened in washington after the first attack, and what was our response to that attack? what did the military do or not do? what did our leaders? washington do or not do and when? why was the american public given such divergent accounts of what caused these attacks? and why is it so hard to get information from the very government these four men represented, served and sacrificed for? even after an accountability review board and a half dozen congressional investigations, these and other questions still lingered, and these questions lingered because previous investigations were not thorough. these questions lingered because those previous investigations were narrow in scope and either incapable or unwilling to access the facts and evidence necessary to answer all relevant questions. so the house of representatives including some democrats, i
hasten to add, asked this committee to write the final definitive accounting of what happened in benghazi. this committee is the first committee to review more than 50,000 pages of documents because we insisted that they be produced. this committee is the first committee to demand access to more eyewitnesses because serious investigations talked to as many eyewitnesses as possible. this committee is the first committee to thoroughly and individually interview scores of other witnesses, many of them for the first time. this committee is the first committee to review thousands of pages of documents from top state department personnel. this committee is the first committee to demand access to relevant documents from the cia, the fbi, the department of defense, and even the white house. this committee is the first committee to demand access to the e-mails to and from ambassador chris stevens.
how could an investigation possibly be considered serious without reviewing the e-mails of the person most knowledgeable about libya? this committee is the first committee, the only committee, to uncover the fact that secretary clinton exclusively used personal e-mail on her own personal server for official business and kept the public record including e-mails about benghazi and libya in her own custody and control for almost two years after she left office. you will hear a lot today about the accountability review board. secretary clinton has mentioned it more than 70 times in her previous testimony before congress. but when you hear about the arb, you should also know the state department leadership hand-picked the members of the arb. the arb never interviewed secretary clinton. the arb never reviewed her e-mails. and secretary clinton's top adviser was allowed to review and suggest changes to the arb before the public ever saw it.
there's no transcript of arb interviews, so it's impossible to know whether all relevant questions were asked and answered. and because there's no transcript, it is also impossible to cite the arb interviews with any particularity at all. that is not independent. that is not accountability. that is not a serious investigation. you will hear there were previous congressional investigations into benghazi, and that is true. and it should make you wonder why those investigations failed to interview so many witnesses and access so many documents. if those previous congressional investigations were really serious and thorough, how did they miss ambassador stevens' e-mails? if those previous investigations were serious and thorough, how did they miss secretary clinton's e-mails? if those congressional investigations really were serious and thorough, why did they fail to interview dozens of
key state department witnesses including agents on the ground who experienced the attacks firsthand? just last month, three years after benghazi, top aides finally returned documents to the state department. a month ago, this committee received 1500 new pages of secretary clinton's e-mails related to libya and benghazi. three years after the attacks. and a little over two weeks ago this committee received nearly 1400 pages of ambassador stevens' e-mails, three years after the attacks. it is impossible to conduct a serious fact-centric investigation without access to the documents from the former secretary of state. the ambassador who knew more about libya than anyone else and testimony from witnesses who survived the attacks. madam secretary, i understand there are people, frankly, in both parties who have suggested that this investigation is about you. let me assure you it is not, and
let me assure you why it is not. this investigation is about four people who were killed representing our country on foreign soil. it is about what happened before, during and after the attacks that killed them. it is about what this country owes to those who risk their lives to serve it, and it is about the fundamental obligation of government to tell the truth always to the people that it purports to represent. madam secretary, not a single member of this committee signed up to investigation you or your e-mail. we signed up to investigate and therefore honor the lives of four people that we sent into a dangerous country to represent us. and to do everything we can to
prevent it from happening to others. our committee has interviewed half a hundred witnesses. not a single one of them has been named clinton until today. you were the secretary of state for this country at all relevant times. so of course, the committee is going to want to talk to you. you are an important witness. you are one important witness among half a hundred important witnesses. and i do understand you wanted to come sooner than today. so let me be clear why that did not happen. you had an unusual e-mail arrangement which meant the state department could not produce your e-mails to us. you made exclusive use of personal e-mail and a personal server. and when you left the state department, you kept the public record to yourself for almost two years. and it was you and your attorneys who decided what to return and what to delete.
those decisions were your decisions, not our decisions. it was only in march of this year we learned of this e-mail arrangement. and since we learned of this e-mail arrangement, we have interviewed dozens of witnesses, only one of whom was solely related to your e-mail arrangement. and that was the shortest interview of all because that witness invoked his fifth amendment privilege against incrimination. making sure the public record is complete is what serious investigations do, so it was important and remains important that this committee have access to all of ambassador stevens' e-mails, the e-mails of other senior leaders and witnesses, and it is important to gain access to all of your e-mails, madam secretary. your e-mails are no less or no more important than the e-mails of anyone else. it just took us a little bit longer to get them, and it
garnered a little more attention in the process. i want you to take note during this hearing how many times congressional democrats call on this administration to make long-awaited documents available to us. they won't. take note of how many witnesses congressional democrats ask us to schedule for interview. they won't. we would be much closer to finding out what happened in writing the final definitive report if democrats on this committee had helped us just a little bit pursue the facts. but if the democrats on this committee had their way, dozens of witnesses never would have been interviewed. your public record would still be private. thousands of documents never would have been accessed, and we wouldn't have the e-mails of our own ambassador. that may be smart politics, but it is a lousy way to run a serious investigation. there are certain
characteristics that make our country unique in the annals of history. we are the greatest experiment in self-governance the world has ever known. and part of that self-governance comes self-scrutiny, even of the highest officials. our country is strong enough to handle the truth, and our fellow citizens expect us to pursue the truth wherever the facts take us. so this committee is going to do what we pledged to do and what should have been done, frankly, a long time ago, which is interview all relevant witnesses, examine all relevant evidence, and access all relevant documents. and we're going to pursue the truth in a manner worthy of the memory of the four people who lost their lives and worthy of the respect of our fellow citizens. and we are going to write that final definitive accounting of what happened in benghazi. and we would like to do it with your hope and the help of our
democrat colleagues, but make no mistake, we are going to do it, nonetheless, because understanding what happened in benghazi goes to the heart of who we are as a country and the promises we make to those that we send into harm's way. they deserve the truth. they deserve the whole truth. they deserve nothing but the truth. the people we work for deserve the truth. the friends and family of the four who lost their lives deserve the truth. we're going to find the truth. because there is no statute of limitations on the truth. with that, i would recognize my friend from maryland. >> the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth. madam secretary, i want to thank you very much for being here today to testify before congress on this very important issue. this is your third time. this week our chairman, mr. gowdy, was interviewed in a lengthy media profile. during his interview, he complained that he was -- and i quote -- he has an impossible job. that's what the chairman said, impossible job. he said it is impossible to conduct a serious fact-centric investigation in such a, quote, political environment. i have great respect for the chairman, but on this score, he is absolutely wrong.
in fact, it has been done by his own republican colleagues in the house on this very issue, benghazi. the republican chairman of the house intelligence committee conducted an extensive, bipartisan, two-year investigation and issued a detailed report. the senate intelligence committee and the senate homeland security committee also conducted a bipartisan investigation. those bipartisan efforts respected and honored the memories of the four brave americans who gave their lives in benghazi. ambassador chris stevens, sean smith, tyrone woods, and glen doherty. the problem is that the republican caucus did not like the answers they got from those
investigations, so they set up this select committee with no rules, no deadline, and an unlimited budget. and they set them loose, madam secretary, because you're running for president. clearly it is possible to conduct a serious bipartisan investigation. what is impossible is for any reasonable person to continue denying that republicans are squandering millions of taxpayer dollars on this abusive effort to derail secretary clinton's presidential campaign. in the chairman's interview, he tried to defend against this criticism by attempting to cast himself as a victim. and he complained about attacks on the credibility of the select
committee. his argument would be more compelling if republicans weren't leading the charge. as we all know, representative kevin mccarthy, speaker boehner's second in command, and the chairman's close friend, admitted that they established the select committee to drive down secretary clinton's poll numbers. democrats didn't say that. the second in command in the house said that, a republican. republican congressman richard hanna said the select committee was, quote, designed -- designed to go after secretary clinton. and one of the chairman's own hand-picked investigators, a self-proclaimed conservative republican, charged that he was fired in part for not going along with these plans to, quote, hyperfocus on hillary
clinton, end of quote. these stark admissions reflect exactly what we have seen inside the select committee for the past year. let's just take a look at the facts. since january, republicans have canceled every single hearing on our schedule for the entire year except for this one, secretary clinton. they also canceled numerous interviews that they had planned with the defense department and the cia officials. instead of doing that, they said they were going -- what they were going to do, republicans zeroed in on secretary clinton. her sweepeechwriters, her i.t. staffers, and her campaign officials. this is what the republicans did. not the democrats. when speaker boehner established this select committee, he justified it by arguing that it would, quote, cross
jurisdictional lines. i assume he meant we would focus on more than just secretary of state. but madam secretary, you're sitting there by yourself. the secretary of defense is not on your left. the director of the cia is not on your right. that's because republicans abandoned their own plans to question those top officials. so instead of being cross-jurisdictional, republicans just crossed them off the list. last weekend, the chairman told the republican colleagues to shut up and stop talking about the select committee. what i want to know is this. and this is a key question. why tell the republicans to shut up when they are telling the truth but not when they are attacking secretary clinton with
reckless accusations that are dem demonstratably false? carly fiorina has said that secretary clinton has blood on her hands. mike huckabee accused her of ignoring the warning calls from dying americans in benghazi. senator ryan paul said benghazi was a 3:00 a.m. phone call that she never picked up. and senator lindsey graham tweeted, "where the hell were you on the night of the benghazi attack?" everyone on this panel knows these accusations are baseless. from our own investigation and all of those before it. yet, republican members of this select committee remain silent. on monday, the democrats issued
a report showing that none of the 54 witnesses the committee interviewed substantiated these wild republican claims. secretary clinton did not order the military to stand down, and she neither approved nor denied requests for additional security. i ask that our report be included in the official record of today's hearing, mr. chairman. >> without objection. >> what is so telling is that we issued virtually the same report a year ago, the same report. when we first joined the select committee, i asked my staff to put together a complete report and database setting forth the questions that have been asked about the attacks and all of the answers that were provided in the eight previous investigations. i ask that this report also be
included in the record, mr. chairman. >> without objection. >> the problem is that rather than accepting these facts, republicans continue to spend new conspiracy theories that are just as outlandish and inaccurate. for example, the chairman recently tried to argue that sidney blumenthal was secretary clinton's primary adviser on libya. and this past sunday, representative pompeo claimed on national television that secretary clinton relied on sidney blumenthal for most -- for most of her intelligence on libya. earlier this week, "the washington post" fact checker awarded this claim four pinocch pinocchios, its worst rating. here's the bottom line. the select committee has spent 17 months and $4.7 million of
taxpayer money. we've held four hearings and conducted 54 interviews and depositions. yes, we have received some new e-mails from secretary clinton, ambassador stevens and others. and yes, we have conducted some new interviews. but these documents and interviews do not show any nefarious activity. in fact, it's just the opposite. the new information we have obtained confirms and corroborates the core facts we already knew from eight previous investigations. they provide more detail, but they do not change the basic conclusions. it is time, it is time now for the republicans to end this taxpayer-fund taxpayer-funded fishing expedition. we need to come together and shift from politics to policy.
that's what the american people want. shifting from politics to policy. we need to finally make good on our promises to the families. and the families only asked us to do three things. one, do not make this a political football. two, find the facts. three, do everything in your power to make sure that this does not happen again. and so we need to start focusing on what we here in congress can do to improve the safety and security of our diplomatic corps in the future. and with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> madam secretary, you are recognized for your opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ranking member cummings, members of this committee, the terrorist attacks on our diplomatic compound and later at the cia post in benghazi, libya, on september 11th, 2012, took the
lives of four brave americans. ambassador chris stevens, sean smith, glen doherty, and tyrone woods. i'm here to honor the service of those four men. the courage of the diplomatic security agency and the cia officers who risked their lives that night and the work their leagues do every single day all over the world. i knew and admired chris stevens. he was one of our nation's most accomplished diplomats. chris's mother liked to say that he had sand in his shoes because he was always moving, always working, especially in the middle east that he came to know so well. when the revolution broke out in
libya, we named chris as our envoy to the opposition. there was no easy way to get him into benghazi to begin gather g ing information and meeting those libyans who were rising up against the murderous dictator gadhafi, but he found a way to get himself there on a greek cargo ship, just like a 19th century american envoy. but his work was very much 21st century hard-nosed diplomacy. it is a testament to the relationships that he built in libya that on the day following the awareness of his death, tens of thousands of libyans poured into the streets in benghazi.
they held signs reading "thugs don't represent benghazi or islam." "sorry, people of america. this is not the behavior of our islam or our prophet." "chris stevens, a friend to all libyans." although i didn't have the privilege of meeting sean smith personally, he was a valued member of our state department family. an air force veteran, he was an information management officer who had served in pretoria, baghdad, montreal, and the hague. tyrone woods and glen doherty worked for the cia. they were killed by mortar fire at the cia's outpost in
benghazi, a short distance from the diplomatic compound. they were both former navy s.e.a.l.s and trained paramedics with distinguished records of service including in iraq and afghanistan. as secretary of state, i had the honor to lead and the responsibility to support nearly 70,000 diplomats and development experts across the globe. losing any one of them, as we did in iraq, afghanistan, mexico, haiti, and libya, during my tenure was deeply painful for our entire state department and usaid family. i was the one who asked chris to go to libya as our envoy.
i was the one who recommended him to be our ambassador to the president. after the attacks, i stood next to president obama as marines carried his casket and those of the other three americans off the plane at andrews air force base. i took responsibility. and as part of that, before i left office, i launched reforms to better protect our people in the field and help reduce the chance of another tragedy happening in the future. what happened in benghazi has been scrutinized by a nonpartisan, hard-hitting accountability review board, seven prior congressional investigations, multiple news organizations, and, of course, our law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
so today i would like to share three observations about how we can learn from this tragedy and move forward as a nation. first, america must lead in a dangerous world, and our diplomats must continue representing us in dangerous places. the state department sends people to more than 270 posts in 170 countries around the world. chris stevens understood that diplomats must operate in many places where our soldiers do not. where there are no other boots on the ground, and safety is far from guaranteed. in fact, he volunteered for just those assignments. he also understood we will never prevent every act of terrorism or achieve perfect security and
that we inevitably must accept a level of risk to protect our country and advance our interests and values. and make no mistake, the risks are real. terrorists have killed more than 65 american diplomatic personnel since the 1970s and more than 100 contractors and locally employed staff. since 2001, there have been more than 100 attacks on u.s. diplomatic facilities around the world. but if you ask our most experienced ambassadors, they'll tell you, they can't do their jobs for us from bunkers. it would compound the tragedy of benghazi if chris stevens' death and the death of the other three americans ended up undermining
the work to which he and they devoted their lives. we have learned the hard way when america is absent, especially from unstable places, there are consequences. extremism takes root. aggressors seek to fill the vacuum. and security everywhere is threatened including here at home. that's why chris was in benghazi. it's why he had served previously in syria, egypt, saudi arabia, and jerusalem during the second intefadeh. nobody knew the dangers of libya better. a weak government, extremist groups, rampant instability. but chris chose to go to benghazi because he understood america had to be represented there at that pivotal time.
he knew that eastern libya was where the revolution had begun and that unrest there could derail the country's fragile transition to democracy. and if extremists gained a foothold, they would have the chance to destabilize the entire region including egypt and tunisia. he also knew how urgent it was to ensure that the weapons gadhafi had left strewn across the country, including shoulder-fired missiles that could knock an airplane out of the sky, did not fall into the wrong hands. the nearest israeli airport is just a day's drive from the libyan border. above all, chris understood that most people in libya or anywhere reject the extremist's argument
that violence could ever be a path to dignity or justice. that's what those thousands of libyans were saying after they learned of his death. and he understood there was no substitute for going beyond the embassy walls and doing the hard work of building relationships. retreat from the world is not an option. america cannot shrink from our responsibility to lead. that doesn't mean we should ever return to the go-it-alone foreign policy of the past, a foreign policy that puts boots on the ground as a first choice rather than a last resort. quite the opposite. we need creative, confident leadership that harnesses all of america's strengths and values, leadership that integrates and balances the tools of diplomacy,
development and defense. and at the heart of that effort must be dedicated professionals like chris stevens and his leagues who put their lives on the line for a country, our country, because they believed, as i do, that america is the greatest force for peace and progress the world has ever known. my second observation is this. we have a responsibility to provide our diplomats with the resources and support they need to do their jobs as safely and effectively as possible. after previous deadly attacks, leaders from both parties and both branches of government came together to determine what went wrong and how to fix it for the future. that's what happened during the reagan administration.
when hezbollah attacked our embassy and killed 63 people including 17 americans. and then in a later attack, attacked our marine barracks and killed so many more. those two attacks in beirut resulted in the deaths of 258 americans. it's what happened during the clinton administration when al qaeda am booed our embassies in kenya and tanzania, killing more than 200 people, wounding more than 2,000 people, and killing 12 americans. and it's what happened during the bush administration after 9/11. part of america's strength is we learn, we adapt, and we get
stronger. after the benghazi attacks, i asked ambassador thomas pickering, one of our most distinguished and longest-serving diplomats, along with admiral mike mullen, the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff appointed by president george w. bush, to lead an accountability review board. this is an institution that the congress set up after the terrible attacks in beirut. there have been 18 previous accountability review boards. only two have ever made any of their findings public. one following the attacks on our embassies in east africa and the one following the attack on benghazi. the accountability review board did not pull a single punch. they found systemic problems and management deficiencies in two
state department bureaus. and the review board recommended 29 specific improvements. i pledged that by the time i left office, every one would be on the way to implementation, and they were. more marines were slated for deployment to high-threat embassies. additional diplomatic security agents were being hired and trained. and secretary kerry has continued this work. but there is more to do. and no administration can do it alone. congress has to be our partner, as it has been after previous tragedies. for example, the accountability review board and subsequent investigations have recommended improved training for our officers before they deploy to the field. but efforts to establish a modern joint training center are being held up by congress.
the men and women who serve our country deserve better. finally, there is one more observation i'd like to share. i traveled to 112 countries as secretary of state. every time i did, i felt great pride and honor, representing the country that i love. we need leadership at home to match our leadership abroad, leadership that puts national security ahead of politics and ideology. our nation has a long history of bipartisan cooperation on foreign policy and national security. not that we always agree. far from it. but we do come together when it counts. as secretary of state, i worked with the republican chairman of the senate foreign relations committee to pass a landmark
nuclear arms control treaty with russia. i worked with the republican leader, senator mitch mcconnell, to open up burma, now myanmar, to democratic change. i know it's possible to find common ground because i have done it. we should debate on the basis of fact, not fear. we should resist denigrating the patriotism or loyalty of those with whom we disagree. so i'm here, despite all the previous investigations and all the talk about partisan agendas, i'm here to honor those we lost and to do what i can to aid those who serve us still. my challenge to you, members of this committee, is the same challenge i put to myself. let's be worthy of the trust the american people have bestowed upon us. they expect us to lead, to learn
the right lessons, to rise above partisanship, and to reach for statesmanship. that's what i tried to do every day as secretary of state, and it's what i hope we will all strive for here today and into the future. thank you. >> thank you, madam secretary. i did not cut off your opening at all. nor would i think about doing so because the subject matter is critically important, and you deserve to be heard. i would just simply note that -- and i don't plan on cutting off any of your answers. our members have questions that we believe are worthy of being answered. so i would just simply note that we do plan to ask all of the questions, and whatever precision and concis sch schlco be much appreciated. and with that, mr. roscum.
>> your adviser wrote a tick tock on libya memo, and this was the day before the rebels took tripoli. he titles it, quote, secretary clinton's leadership on libya in which he describes you as, quote, a critical voice and, quote, the public face of the u.s. effort in libya and instrumental in tightening the noose around gadhafi and his regime, but that didn't come easy, did it, because you face considerable opposition, and i can pause while you're reading your notes from your staff. >> [ inaudible ] one thing at a time, congressman. thanks. >> that didn't come easy, did it, that leadership role and that public face and so forth that i just mentioned? >> [ inaudible ] congressman, i know this is an issue that the committee has raised, and it really boils down to why were we in libya? why did the united states join
with our nato and european allies, join with our arab partners to protect the people of libya against the murderous planning of gadhafi? why we play a role alongside our partners in doing so? there were a number of reasons for that. and i think it is important to remind the american people where we were at the time when the people of libya like people across the region rose up demanding freedom and democracy, a chance to chart their own futures. and gadhafi -- gadhafi threatened them with genocide, with hunting them down like cockroaches. and we were then approached by with great intensity our closest allies in europe. people who felt very strongly, the french and the british, but others as well, that they could not stand idly by and permit
that to happen so close to their shores with the unintended consequences that they worried about. and they asked for the united states to help. we did not immediately say yes. we did an enormous amount of due diligence in meeting with not only our european and arab partners but also with those who were heading up what was called the transitional national council. and we had experienced diplomats who were digging deep into what was happening in libya and what the possibilities were before we agreed to provide very specific limited help to the european and arab efforts. we did not put one american soldier on the ground. we did not have one casualty. and in fact, i think by many measures, the cooperation between nato and arab forces was quite remarkable and something that we want to learn more lessons from. >> electrsecretary clinton, you meeting with opposition within
the state department from very senior career diplomats, in fact. and they were saying that it was going to produce a net negative for u.s. military intervention. for example, on march 9th, 2011 e-mail discussing what has become known as the libya options memo, ambassador steven maul, the then secretary of the state department and one of the top career diplomats said this. in the case of our diplomatic history when we've provided material or tactical military support for people seeking to drive their leaders from power, no matter how just their cause, it's tended to produce net negatives for our interests over the long term in those countries. now, we'll come back to that in a minute. but you overruled those career diplomats. i mean, they report to you, and you're the chief diplomat of the united states. go ahead and read the note if you need to. >> i have to -- i have to -- >> i'm not done with my question.
i'm just giving you the courtesy of reading your notes. >> that's all right. >> all right. they were -- they were pushing back, but you overcame those objections, but then you had another big obstacle, didn't you, and that was the white house itself. there were senior voices within the white house that were opposed to military action. vice president biden, department of defense, secretary gates, the national security council and so forth. but you persuaded president obama to intervene militarily, isn't that right? >> well, congressman, i think it's important to point out there were many in the state department who believed it was very much in america's interests and in furtherance of our values to protect the libyan people, to join with our european allies and our arab partners. the ambassador who had to be withdrawn from libya because of direct attack -- direct threats to his physical safety but who knew libya very well. ambassador krets was a strong
advocate for doing what we could to assist the europeans and the arabs. i think it's fair to say there were concerns, and there were varying opinions about what to do, how to do it, and the like. at the end of the day, this was the president's decision. and all of us fed in our views. i did not favor it until i had done, as i said, the due diligence, speaking with not just people within our government and within the governments of all of the other nations who were urging us to assist them, but also meeting in person with the gentleman who had assumed a lead role in the transitional national council. so it is, of course, fair to say this was a difficult decision. i wouldn't sit here and say otherwise. and there were varying points of view about it. but at the end of the day, in large measure, because of the strong appeals from our european allies, the arab league passing a resolution urging that the
united states and nato join with them, those were unprecedented requests. and we did decide, in recommending to the president, that there was a way to do it. the president, i think, very clearly had a limited instruction about how to proceed. and the first planes that flew were french planes. and i think what the united states provided was some of our unique capacity. but the bulk of the work militarily was done by europeans and arabs. >> well i think you're underselling yourself. you got the state department on board. you convinced the president. you overcame the objections of vice president biden and secretary of defense gates, the national security council, and you had another obstacle, then, and that was the united nations. and you were able to persuade the russians, of all things, to abstain, and had you not been successful in arguing that
abstention, the security council resolution 1973 wouldn't have passed because the russians had a veto. so you overcame that obstacle as well, isn't that right? >> well, congressman, it is right that after doing my due diligence and reviewing the various options and the potential consequences of pursuing each of them, i was in favor of the united states joining with our european allies and our arab partners, and i also was in favor of obtaining u.n. security council support because i thought that would provide greater legitimacy. in that, of course, our ambassador to the u.n. was very influential and successful in making the case to her colleagues. but this was at the behest of and at the direction was president once he was presented with the varying arguments. >> and you presented -- >> congressman, i have been in a number of situation room discussions. i remember very well the very intense conversation over whether or not to launch the
navy s.e.a.l.s against the compound we thought in afghanistan about osama bin laden. eventually the president makes the decision. i supported doing what we could to support our european and arab partners in their effort on a humanitarian basis, a strategic basis to prevent gadhafi from launching and carrying out massachusetts kemass massacres. >> there was another obstacle, and that was the arabs themselves. jake sullivan said this. i think you should call. it will be a painful ten minutes, but you will be the one who delivered arab support, and that's a jake sullivan e-mail of march 17th to you, asking you to call the secretary-general of the arab -- of the arab league. so to put this in totality, you were able to overcome opposition within the state department.
you were able to persuade the president. you were able to persuade the united nations and the international community. you made the call to the arabs and brought them home. you saw it. you drove it. you articulated it, and you persuaded people. did i get that wrong? >> well, congressman, i was the secretary of state. my job was to conduct the diplomacy, and the diplomacy consisted of a long series of meetings and phone calls both here in our country and abroad to take the measure of what people were saying and whether they meant it. we had heard sometimes before from countries saying, well, the united states should go do this. and when we'd say, well, what will you do in support of us? there was not much coming forth. this time if they wanted us to support them in what they saw as an action vital to their respective national security interests, i wanted to be sure that they were going to bear the
bulk of the load. and in fact, they did. what the united states did, as i've said, was use our unique capacities. as i recall, if you want it in monetary terms, slightly over a billion dollars or less than what we spent in iraq in one day is what the united states committed in support of our allies. you know, we asked our allies to do a lot for us, congressman. they had asked for us to help them. >> let me reclaim my time because it's expiring. actually, you summed it up best when you e-mailed your senior staff and you said of this interchange, you said it's good to remind ourselves and the rest of the world that this couldn't have happened without us. and you were right, secretary clinton. our libya policy couldn't have happened without you because you were its chief architect. and i said we're going to go back to ambassador maul's warning about using military for regime change. and he said long-term things weren't going to work out very well. and he was right. after your plan, things in libya today are a disaster. i yield back.
>> well, we'll have more time, i'm sure, to talk about this because that's not a view that i will abscribe to. >> i recognize the gentleman from maryland. >> thank you very much. madam secretary, again, i want to thank you for being here. i want to start with the number one question that republicans claim has not been answered in eight previous investigations. yesterday the chairman wrote an op-ed, and he said this is his top unanswered question about benghazi. and it is, and i quote, why are people in libya and benghazi made so many requests for additional security personnel and equipment, and why those requests were denied? i'm going to give you a chance to answer that in a minute. secretary clinton, as you know, this exact question has been asked many times and answered many times. let's start with the
accountability review board. now, you, a moment ago, you talked about admiral mullen, but you also appointed another very distinguished gentleman, ambassador pickering. of course, admiral mullen served under republican administrati s administrations, and ambassador pickering, who i have a phenomenal amount of respect for, served 40 years, as you know, as part of our diplomatic corps. he served under george h.w. bush. and he also served as u.n. ambassador under -- he also served under reagan. now, i'm just wondering, let me go back to that question, why are people in libya and benghazi made so many requests, and then i want you to comment -- it
seems to be an implication that the arb, the accountability review board, was not independent. and i think the chairman said they were hand picked by you. of course that's done by law. but i'm just -- would you comment on those two things, please. >> yes. i'd be happy to. you know, as i said in my opening statement, i take responsibility for what happened in benghazi. i felt a responsibility for all 70,000 people working at the state department and usaid. i take that very seriously. as i said with respect to security requests in benghazi back when i testified in january of 2013, those requests and issues related to security were rightly handled by the security professionals in the department. i did not see them. i did not approve them. i did not deny them. ambassador pickering and admiral
mullen make this case very clearly in their testimony before your committee and in their public comments. these issues would not ordinarily come before the secretary of state, and they did not in this case. as secretary, i was committed to taking aggressive measures to ensure our personnels and fa ilt ises were as safe as possible. and certainly when the nonpartisan critical report from the accountability review board came forward, i took it very seriously, and that's why i embraced all of their recommendations and created a new position within the diplomatic security bureau specifically to evaluate high-risk posts. i think it's important also to mention, congressman, that the
diplomatic security professionals who were reviewing these requests along with those who are serving in war zones and hot spots around the world have great expertise and experience in keeping people safe. if you go on kodell's, they are the ones who plan your trip to keep you safe. they certainly did that for me. but most importantly, that's what they do every day for everybody who serves our country as a diplomat or a development professional. and i was not going to second-guess them. i was not going to substitute my judgment, which is not based on experience that they have in keeping people safe for theirs. and the changes that were recommended by the accountability review board are ones that we thought made sense and began quickly to implement. >> now, the arb, after