tv MSNBC Live With Tamron Hall MSNBC October 22, 2015 8:00am-9:01am PDT
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
conducting, madam secretary, more than 100 interviews, identify specific employee at the state department who denied these requests. it was deputy assistant secretary of the bureau of diplomatic security charlene lamb. and again, she did come before the oversight committee. the arb report was very critical of her. it was also critical of her two supervisors, principal deputy assistant secretary and the assistant secretary for diplomatic security. the oversight committee found the same answer as the arb. it found that this official denied these requests, and it found no evidence that you approved or denied them. the problem is that republicans just keep asking the same question over and over again and pretend they don't know the answer.
in 2013, the republican chairman of five house committees issued a report falsely accusing you personally of denying these requests in a cable over your signature. the next day, the next day the chairman of the oversight committee, darrell issa, went on national television and accused you of the same thing. can we play that clip, please? >> secretary of state was just wrong. she said she did not participate in this, and yet only a few months before the attack, she outright denied security in her signature in a cable april 2012. >> do you remember that allegation, madam secretary? >> i do. >> well, when "the washington
post" fact checker examined this claim, they gave it four pinocchios. they called it a whopper. it turns out that the republicans had a copy of that cable, but they didn't tell the american people that your so-called signature was just a stamp that appear on millions of cables from the state department every single year, is that right? >> that's correct. >> now, madam secretary, my goal has always been to gather facts and to defend the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. last year i asked our staff to compile an asked and answered database. and this particular issue was answered thoroughly. on monday we put out another report, and this issue was addressed yet again. but the republicans want to keep this attack going, so they are now trying to argue that we have new e-mails that raise new questions. the truth is that we have
reviewed these e-mails, and they don't contradict previous conclusions. they confirm them. they corroborate them. we've reviewed e-mails from ambassador stevens, and they show that he asked charlene lamb for more security. nothing we have obtained, not the new interviews or the new e-mails changes the basic facts we have known for three years. secretary clinton, let me ask one final question, and please take as much time as you want to answer this. there's no evidence to support republican claims that you personally rejected security requests, so some have argued that since you knew the danger was increasing in libya, you should have been in there making detailed decisions about whether this would be five, seven or even nine security officers at any given post. madam secretary, i know you have
answered over again. you might want to just elaborate and just -- i'll give you -- i have a minute and seven seconds. >> well, thank you, congressman. i think there has been some confusion, and i welcome the opportunity to try to clarify it to the best of my ability with respect, as you rightly point out, the claims that were made by the cables. i think you have explained the fact, which is that it's the longstanding tradition of the state department for cables from around the world to be sent to and sent from the state department under the signature, over the signature of the secretary of state. it's a stamp. it's just part of the tradition. there are millions of them, as you point out. they are sorted through and directed to the appropriate personnel. very few of them ever come to my attention. none of them with respect to security regarding benghazi did.
then the other point, which i thank you for raising so that perhaps i can speak to this one as well, there is, of course, information that we were obtaining about the increasingly dangerous environment in libya. across the country but in particular in eastern libya. and we were aware of that, and we were certainly taking that into account. there was no actionable intelligence on september 11th or even before that date about any kind of planned attack on our compound in benghazi. and there were a lot of debates apparently that went on within the security professionals about what to provide because they did have to prioritize. the accountability review board pointed that out.
the state department has historically and certainly before this terrible incident not had the amount of money that we thought would be necessary to do what was required to protect everyone. so of course there had to be priorities. and that was something that the security professionals dealt with. i think that both admiral mullen and ambassador pickering made it very clear that they thought that the high-threat post should move to a higher level of scrutiny, and we had immediately moved to do that. >> thank you. >> i thank the gentleman. the chair will now recognize the gentle lady from indiana, ms. brooks. >> good morning, secretary clinton. >> good morning. >> thank you for being here today. and drawing on what you just said that very few but no requests for benghazi came to your attention, i'd like to show you something.
this pile represents the e-mails that you sent or received about libya in 2011, from february through december of 2011. this pile represents the e-mails you sent or received from early 2012 until the day of the attack. there's 795 e-mails in this pile. we've counted them. there are 67 e-mails in this pile in 2012. and i'm troubled by what i see here. and so my questions relate to these piles. in this pile in 2011, i see daily updates, sometimes hourly updates from your staff about benghazi and chris stevens. when i look at this pile in 2012, i only see a handful of e-mails to you from your senior
staff about benghazi, and i have several questions for you about this disparity because we know from talking to your senior advisers that they knew, and many of them are here today, seated behind you, they knew to send you important information, issues that were of importance to you, and i can only conclude, by your own records, that there was a lack of interest in libya in 2012. so let's first focus, though, on this pile and what was happening in libya in 2011. we had an ambassador to libya, ambassador krets, but you've told us -- and you told us in your opening you hand picked chris stevens to be your special representative in benghazi, and you sent him there. and by your own e-mails, most provided last february, a few provided just a few weeks ago, they show that in march of '11, so we're in march of '11, you had chris stevens join you in paris where you were meeting with the leader of the libyan revolution. and after paris, that is when,
as you talked about chris stevens, went into benghazi, i believe april 5 of 2011 on that greek cargo ship. how long was he expected to stay? what were chris stevens' orders from you about libya and about benghazi specifically? >> chris stevens was asked to go to benghazi to do reconnaissance, to try to figure out who were the leaders of the insurgency who were based in benghazi, what their goals were, what they understood would happen if they were successful. it was, as i said, the hard-nosed 21st century diplomacy that is rooted in the old-fashioned necessary work of building relationships and gathering information. >> how long was he anticipated to stay in benghazi? do you recall? >> there -- it was open-ended. we were, in discussing it with him, unsure as to how productive
it would be, whether it would be appropriate for him to stay for a long time or a short time. that was very much going to depend upon chris's own assessment. we knew we were sending someone who understood the area, who understood the language, who understood a lot of the personalities because of the historical study that he used to love to do. and we were going to be guided by what he decided. >> i'd like to draw your attention to an e-mail. it's an e-mail found at tab 1. it's an ops center e-mail that was forwarded to you from huma abedin on sunday, march 27th, that says at the bottom of the e-mail -- so the current game plan is for mr. stevens to move no later want to benghazi, but the bottom of the e-mail says the goal of this one-day trip is for him to lay the groundwork for a stay of up to 30 days.
so just to refresh that recollection, i believe initially the goal was to go in for 30 days. were you personally briefed on his security plan prior to him going into libya? because at that time, if i'm not mistaken, i'm sorry to interrupt, gadhafi's forces were still battling the rebels, correct? >> that's right. >> and so what were -- were you personally briefed before you sent mr. stevens into benghazi? >> i was personally told by the officials who were in the state department who were immediately above chris who were making the plans for him to go in that it was going to be expeditionary diplomacy. it was going to require him to make a lot of judgments on the ground about what he could accomplish and including where it would be safe for him to be and how long for him to stay,
and i think the initial decision was, you know, up to 30 days and reassess, but it could have been ten days. it could have been 60 days fe s depending upon what he found and what he reported back to us. >> and possibly what was determined about the danger of benghazi. who were those officials, secretary clinton? >> well, there were a number of officials that were working -- >> that were advising you on the security specifically. >> well, with respect to the security, this was a particular concern of the assistant secretary for the bureau in which chris worked. >> i'm sorry, what was that person's name? >> assistant secretary jeff feldman. >> thank you. >> and it was also a concern of the assistant secretary for diplomatic security as well as other officials within the state department. and i think it's fair to say, congresswoman, this was -- we all knew -- a risky undertaking. and it was something that was, as i said in my opening statement, more reminiscent of the way diplomacy was practiced back in the 19th century because
we didn't have the internet. we didn't have instantaneous communications. you would send diplomats and envoys into places and not hear from them for maybe months. this was obviously not of that kind, but it was not that different in degree from what we had done before, and it was a risky undertaking and one which chris volunteered for and was anxious to undertake. >> and it was so risky, i'd like to pull up another e-mail from the ops center that was forwarded to you from ms. abedin on sunday, april 10th, so he had been there about five days. and it indicates that the situation had worsened to the point where stevens is considering departing from benghazi. this is within five days of him going in. were you aware of that concern within the first five days that he had gone in, and did anyone share that with you and did zhar that with you? >> yes. we were aware because we were really counting on chris to guide us and give us the information from the ground.
we had no other sources. you know, there was no american outpost. there was no, you know, american military presence. eventually other americans representing different agencies were able to get into benghazi and begin to do the same work, but they, of course, couldn't do that work overtly, which is why we wanted a diplomat who could be publicly meeting with people to try to get the best assessment. but it was always going to be a constant risk. and we knew that. >> and so let me go back to the risk in 2011 because there was a lot of communication, again, once again, in your senior staff, from the state department to you or from you in 2011. and, in fact, that is when gadhafi fell. he fell in 2011. but then when we go to 2012, libya, benghazi, chris stevens, the staff there, they seemed to fall off your radar in 2012, and
the situation is getting much worse in 2012. it was getting much worse. and let me just share for you in your records that we have reviewed, there is not one e-mail to you or from you in 2012 when an explosive device went off at our compound in april. there's not a single e-mail in your records about that explosive device. so my question is, this was a very important mission in 2011. you sent chris stevens there, but yet when our compound is attacked in 2012, what kind of culture was created in the state department that your folks couldn't tell you in an e-mail about a bomb in april of 2012? >> well, congresswoman, i did not conduct most of the business that i did on behalf of our country on e-mail. i conducted it in meetings. i read massive amounts of memos, a great deal of classified
information. i made a lot of secure phone calls. i was in and out of the white house all the time. there were a lot of things that happened that i was aware of and that i was reacting to. if you were to be in my office in the state department, i didn't have a computer. i did not do the vast majority of my work on e-mail. and i bet there's a lot of sid blumenthal's e-mails from 2011, too. i don't want you to have a mistaken impression about what i did and how i did it. most of my work was not done on e-mails with my closest aides, with officials in the state department, officials in the rest of the government, as well as the white house and people around the world. >> and thank you for sharing that because i'm sure that it's not all done on e-mails, madam secretary, and there are meetings and there are discussions. and so then when our compound took a second attack on june 6th, when a bomb blew a wall through the compound then, no e-mails, no e-mails at all.
but i am interested in knowing who were you meeting with? who were you huddling with? how were you informed about those things? because there is nothing in the e-mails that talks about two significant attacks on our compounds in 2012. there is a lot of information in 2011 about issues and security posture, and yet nothing in 2012. >> well, i'd be happy to explain. every morning when i arrived at the statement did, usually between 8:00 and 8:30, i had a personal one-on-one briefing from the representative of the central intelligence agency who shared with me the highest level of classified information that i was to be aware of on a daily basis. i then had a meeting with the top officials of the state department every day that i was in town. that's where a lot of information including threats and attacks on our facilities was shared. i also had a weekly meeting every monday with all of the
officials, the assistant secretaries and others, so that i could be brought up to date on any issue that they were concerned about. during the day i received hundreds of pages of memos, many of them classified, some of them so top secret that they were brought into my office in a locked briefcase that i had to read and immediately return to the courier. and i was constantly at the white house in the situation room meeting with the national security adviser and others. i would also be meeting with officials in the state department, foreign officials and others. so there was a lot going on during every day. i did not e-mail during the day. except on rare occasions when i was able to. but i didn't conduct the business that i did primarily on e-mail. that is not how i gathered information, assessed information, asked the hard questions of the people that i worked with. >> it appears that leaving benghazi with respect to all of that danger leaving benghazi was not an option in 2012, and i
yield back. >> well, if i -- if i could just quickly respond, there was never a recommendation from any intelligence official in our government, from any official in the state department, or from any other person with knowledge of our presence in benghazi to shut down benghazi even after the two attacks that the compound suffered. and perhaps, you know, you would wonder why, but i can tell you that it was thought that the mission in benghazi, in conjunction with the cia mission, was vital to our national interests. >> the gentle lady from indiana yields back. i briefly recognize mr. cummings and ms. duckworth. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i just want to clarify, when i was asking secretary clinton a question a moment ago, i mentioned an e-mail that had gone from ambassador chris stevens to deputy secretary lamb. what i meant to say was a cable. and i just wanted to make sure the record was clear. >> the record will reflect that.
ms. duckworth. >> thank you -- thank you, mr. chairman. secretary clinton, i'm pleased that you finally have the opportunity to be here. before i start my line of questioning, i just want to clarify with regards to the april to june 2012 incidents, i believe that the procedure that the state department had for these types of incidents was to actually hold what are called emergency action committee hearings on the ground immediately. and in fact, there were at least five records for june alone on the ground in both tripoli and benghazi, and that is the correct procedure for handling such instances, is that not correct? >> that's correct. >> thank you. secretary clinton, my focus and my job on this committee is to make sure that we never put brave americans like ambassador stevens, sean smith, tyrone woods and glen doherty ever on the ground again anywhere in the world without the protection
that they so rightly deserve. having flown combat missions myself and in some dangerous places, i understand the dedication of our men and women who choose to serve this country overseas. i have a special affinity for the diplomatic corps because these are folks who go in without the benefit of weapons, without the benefit of military might, armed only with america's values and diplomatic words and a handshake to forward our nation's interests globally. so i am absolutely determine to make sure that we safeguard, in the name of our men and women in the diplomatic corps wherever they are around the world. so the bottom line for me -- i'm a very mission-driven person -- the bottom line for me is with respect to examining what went wrong in benghazi is clear. let's learn from those mistakes, and let's figure out what we need to do to fix them. i've only been in congress not quite three years, almost three years. and in this time i've actually
served on two other committees in addition to this one that has looked at the benghazi attacks, both armed services and oversight and government reform. so i've had a chance to really look at all of these documents. one of the things that i saw, and i'd like you to discuss this with you, is that the department of state and the department of defense at the time seems to have not had the most ideal cooperation when it came to threat of security analysis. i do know, however, that over the past decade, they've established a tradition of working together on the ground in dangerous regions that has increased over time. however, as a member of the armed services committee, which also looked at the benghazi attacks, i'm concerned that the interagency cooperation between state and d.o.d. was not sufficient in the weeks and months leading up to the september 11th, 2012, attacks. for example, the joint contingency planning and training exercises, if we had
conducted any joint interagency planning and training exercises, this may have actually helped the state and d.o.d. to identify and fix existing vulnerabilities in the temporary mission facility in benghazi. moreover, regular communications between africom and the special mission in benghazi could have facilitated the prepositioning of military assets in a region where there were very real questions over the host country's ability to protect our diplomatic personnel. secretary clinton, within the weeks of the terrorist attacks in benghazi happening, following that, i understand you partnered with the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to establish and deploy five interagency security assessment teams to assess our security posture and needs, at least the 19 high-threat posts in 13 different countries. in fact, deputy secretary testified before the house foreign affairs committee in
december of 2012 that the state department and d.o.d.isat initiative created a road map for addressing emerging security challenges. why did you partner with the department of defense to conduct such a high-priority review, and was it effective in addressing the shortfalls in benghazi and applying it for other locations? >> congresswoman, thank you very much, and thanks for your service and particularly your knowledge about these issues rising from your own military service and the service on the committees here in the house. it's very challenging to get military assets into countries that don't want them there. and, in fact, that has been a constant issue that we have worked between the state department and the department of defense. the libyans made it very clear from the very beginning they did not want any american military
or any foreign military at all in their country. and what i concluded is that we needed to have these assessments because even if we couldn't post our own military in the country, we needed to have a faster reaction. for you, i certainly agree 100% with the findings of the armed services committee here in the house and other investigations, our military did everything they could. they turned over every rock. they tried to deploy, as best they could, to try to get to benghazi. it was beyond the geographic range. they didn't have assets nearby because we don't have a lot of installations and military personnel that are in that immediate region. so following what happened in benghazi, the chairman of the joint chiefs, general dempsey and i, agreed to send out mixed teams of our diplomatic security
and their top security experts from the defense department to get a better idea of the 19 high-threat posts. and that's exactly what we did. and it gave us some guidance to try to have better planning ahead of time. i know admiral mullen testified that it would be beyond the scope of our military to be able to provide immediate reaction to 270 posts. but that's why we tried to narrow down. and, of course, we do get help from our military in war zones. the military's been incredibly supportive of our embassy in kabul and our embassy in baghdad. but we have a lot of hot spots now and very dangerous places that are not in military conflict areas where we have american military presence. so we wanted to figure out how we could get more quickly a fast reaction team to try to help prevent what happened in benghazi. >> thank you.
so this isat process that the joint teams of d.o.d. and state that goes out initially looked at the 19 posts. that's great that they come back with a report. it's kind of like, you know, the seven reports to this. and now we have another committee. we can keep having committees to look into benghazi, but if we never act on them, it doesn't help our men and women on the ground. and that's what i'm focused on. so what i want to know is with these isats, so they came back with their recommendations to you. have they been resourced? are they institutionalized? what has been done with this process so that it's not a snap shot in time in reaction to benghazi attack, and i want to make sure that, you know, at the very least, we're continuing the cooperation or at least there's some sort of institutionalization of the review process to make sure that if it's not those 19 posts, if the shift now is there's 20 posts or some other posts, what has been done to make sure it's institutionalized? >> well, that was one of the changes that i instituted before
i left, and i'm confident that secretary kerry and his counterpart, secretary carter at the defense department, are continuing that because i think it was very useful. certainly it was useful for our security professionals and our diplomats to be partnered in that way with the defense department. you know, historically, the only presence at some of our facilities has been marines. and as you know well, marines were there not for the purpose of personnel protection. they were there to destroy classified material and equipment. and so part of the challenge that we have faced in some of these hotspot dangerous areas is how we get more of a presence. and after benghazi, we were able to get marines deployed to tripoli. so this is a constant effort between the state department and the defense department. but it's my strong belief that
the isat process has been and should be institutionalized, and we should keep learning from it. >> i'd like to touch on the quadrennial reviews. again, coming from armed services. even as a young platoon leader out in a platoon, we got and read the defense quadrennial review, which is a review that happens on a periodic basis that gives an individual soldier an idea of what the defense department is trying to do. and i understand you initiated something similar in the state department. and this goes to -- there's been discussion already about the culture at the state department especially when it comes to security. i find that the department of defense quadrennial defense review is very good at instilling culture throughout the department. >> mm-hmm. >> can you talk a little bit about how and why you decided to do the review for the state department? was it useful? is it useful? is it getting out there? is it a waste of time and we
shouldn't be wasting money on it and we should be doing something else? >> well, i hope it's not the latter. i learned about the quadrennial defense review serving on the armed services committee in the senate during my time there. i agree with you completely, congresswoman. it's a very successful road map as to where we should be going, and i'm impressed that as a platoon leader, it was something that you took into account. so when i came to the state department, there had never been anything like this done. there was no road map. and the state department, usaid, would come up and fight for the money that they could get out of congress no matter who was in charge of the congress every single year. it's 1% of the entire budget, and it was very difficult to explain effectively what it is we were trying to achieve, so i did institute the first-ever quadrennial diplomacy and development review. and one of the key questions that we were addressing is what is this balance between risk and
reward when it comes to our diplomats and our development professionals? because the first thing i heard when i got to the state department was a litany of complaints from a lot of our most experienced diplomats that they were being hamstrung. that the security requirements were so intense that they were basically unable to do their jobs. and, of course, then from the security professionals who were all part of this what we called a qddr, they were saying we don't want you to go beyond the fence. we can't protect you in all of these dangerous circumstances. how you balance that -- and it is a constant balancing of risk and reward in terms of what we hope our diplomats and development professionals can do. so it's been done twice now. secretary kerry, in his tenure, has done the second qddr, and i hope it becomes as important and as much of a road map as the qdr has for our defense department and our military services.
>> thank you. i'm out of time, mr. chairman. >> i thank the gentle lady from illinois. the chair will now recognize the gentle lady from alabama, ms. roby. >> good morning. >> good morning. >> secretary clinton, my colleagues have focused on your relationship with the ambassador chris stevens and why you sent him into benghazi in 2011 as part of your broader libya initiative. but it's not so clear from everything that we've reviewed that you had a vision in benghazi going forward into 2012 and beyond. it appears that there was confusion and uncertainty within your own department about libya, and quite frankly, secretary clinton, it appears that you were a large cause of that uncertainty. and we've seen all the day-to-day updates and concern early in 2011. and i heard what you said to my colleague mrs. brooks, and i'll get to that in a minute. but showing that libya and for
that matter benghazi belonged to you in 2011, it was yours, so to speak. and there your own records that we have, we saw a drop in your interest in libya and benghazi in 2012. not only do the records show your drop in interest in benghazi, it was even noticed by your own staff. i want to point this out -- say this because i want to point you to an e-mail in early february 2012 between two staffers at your libya desk that says you didn't know whether we still even had a presence in benghazi. let's not use my words. let's use theirs. this can be found at tab 31. the e-mail says, and it's dated february 9, 2012, one writes to the other about an encounter that she had with you. quote, also the secretary asked last week if we still have a
presence in benghazi. i think she would be upset to hear yes, we do, but because we don't have enough security, they are on lockdown, end quote. and i say that this is very troubling to me because it raises several issues that i'd like to ask you about. i'm struck by the first part. quote, the secretary asked last week if we still have a presence in benghazi. now, you pointed out to mrs. brooks in her last line of questioning, based upon the e-mail stacks here, that you engaged in a lot of conversations and briefings. so i'm assuming that this conversation with this member of your staff took place in one of those briefings, but then she sent this e-mail asking about this. so how can this be that two of your staffers are e-mailing about whether or not you even foou that we had a presence in benghazi in 2012 with all your
interest in libya in 2011 including your trip in october of 2011 and that months later we come to find out that you didn't even know if we had a presence there? >> well, i can't comment on what has been reported. of course i knew we had a presence in benghazi. i knew that we were evaluating what that presence should be, how long it should continue, and i knew exactly what we were doing in libya. and i think it's important since you have some very legitimate questions about what we were doing. you know, the united states played a major role in the first election that the libyan people had in 51 years. it was a successful election by every count, and they voted for moderates. they voted for the kind of people they wanted to govern them. we had a very successful effort that the united states supported, getting rid of gadhafi's remaining chemical weapons, which we led and
supported the united states and others in being able to do. we were combatting the proliferation of weapons. that's one of the reasons why there was a cia presence in benghazi because we were trying to figure out how to get those weapons out of the wrong hands and get them collected in a way and destroyed. and in fact, we began reducing those heavy weapons stocks. we were, you know, working on providing transition assistance to the libyans. i met with the libyans. i telephoned with the libyans. i saw the libyans all during this period. and it was hard because a lot of them knew what they wanted, but they didn't know how to get from where they were to that goal. and we did an enormous amount of work. my two deputies, tom nides and bill burns went to libya. other officials in the state department went to libya. so there was a constant continuing effort that i led to try to see what we could do to
help. now, one of the problems we faced is that the libyans did not really feel that they could welcome a peacekeeping mission. they couldn't welcome foreign troops to their soil. that made it really difficult. and it didn't have to be american twooproops. it could have been troops from anywhere in the world under a u.n. mandate that might have helped them begin to secure their country. >> secretary, if i may, i hear what you're saying, but this e-mail says something very, very different. >> you know, i can't speak to that. i can just tell you what i was doing and i was doing a lot. >> sure, but this was your staff. >> what were the -- >> if they had this conversation with you, why they would make it up. but i want to move on. this e-mail, you know, makes me wonder about the vision for benghazi because they're asking if -- they're saying that you asked if we still had a presence. but if you, you though, we look at the second part of the e-mail, quote, and i think she would be upset to hear yes, we
do. >> congresswoman, i'm sorry. i have no -- no recollection of or no knowledge of. >> please turn to tab 31 because it's right there. >> i trust that you have read it, but i also tell that you we had a presence in benghazi. we had members of the administration and congress visiting benghazi, so of course i knew we had a presence in benghazi. i can't speak to what someone either heard or misheard. but i think what's important -- and i understand the underlying point of your question is what were we doing about libya? >> right. >> africa dater gadhafi fell, a that's what i'm trying to explain about what we were doing. >> yes, ma'am. i want to get to the second part of the e-mail that suggests that we were in lockdown that you would have been upset to hear yes, but that we were in lockdown. and you said on numerous occasions including in your opening statement on point number one, you know, america must lead, and we must represent in dangerous places.
quote, they can't do their jobs for us in bunkers. and essentially, what we know is that there weren't the required number of security on the ground in order for the individual to even move about the country to provide you with what you have reiterated on numerous occasions as being very important at that time, which is political reporting. >> could you tell me who is -- who are the names on this e-mail that you're talking about? >> sure. i can turn to tab 31. you have a book in front of you. it is alice abdalla and -- i'm going to pronounce it wrong -- evgenia sataras. >> i'm not in any way contradicting what they heard or what they heard somebody say. >> can you tell me who they were if they were not on your staff? >> they were not on my -- they were in the state department along with thousands of other people. they were not part of the
secretary's staff. but i get what you're saying, congresswoman, and i want to focus on this because i think it's a fair and important question. the facility in benghazi was a temporary facility. there had been no decision made as to whether or not it would be permanent. it was not even a consulate. you know, our embassy was in tripoli. obviously, much of the work that we were doing was going through the embassy. there was a -- there was a very vigorous discussion on the part of people who were responsible for making a recommendation about benghazi as to what form of consulate, what form of facility it should be. chris stevens believed that it should be a formal consulate. but that was something that had to be worked out, and there had not yet been a decision at the time that the attack took place. so it was not a permanent facility. and, you know, there were a number of questions that people were asking about whether it
could or should be. >> i want to drill down on the security issue, but i also want to say it's frustrating for us here on this panel asking these questions to hear you in your opening statement talk about the responsibility you took for all 70-plus thousand employees, but yet i read you an e-mail that is a conversation between two of those employees, and it seems as though you're just kind of brushing it off as not having any knowledge. >> no i'm just saying i have no recollection of it, and it doesn't correspond the facts on a regular basis. >> if we could talk about security, i've got a few seconds left, in 2011, during the revolution, then-envoy stevens had ten agents with him on the ground in benghazi. and then we know in 2012 where the security situation had deteriorated even further. there were only three agents assigned to benghazi. again, can't even move anybody
off of the facility to do the necessary political reporting. my question is, you know, why did you not acknowledge, because of your interest in 2011, the importance of having those security officers there to do what was so important to you which was the political reporting then in 2011, '10, and when an ambassador was there three and he brought two of his own the night of the attack, but there was only three there at any given time. if you could address that, again, i'm running a little short on time. >> well, he did have five with him on september 11th. >> well, he brought two, right? he brought two with them. there were three there. >> right. >> and there were supposed to be five there. >> but the point was they were personal security. so they were there to secure him. so yes, he did bring two, and when he got there, he had five. >> can you address the discrepancy? >> the day before on september 10th, he went into benghazi.
he went to a luncheon with leading civic leaders, business leaders in benghazi. so he felt very comfortable. it was his decision. ambassadors do not have to seek permission from the state department to travel around the country that they are assigned to. he decided to go to benghazi. by taking two security officers with him and having three there, he had the requisite five that had been the subject of discussion between the embassy and the state department security professionals. i'm not going to in any way suggest that he or the embassy got everything they requested. we know that they didn't from the accountability review board, from investigations that were done by the congress. we know that there were a lot of discussions about what was needed, particularly in
benghazi, and that the day that he died, he had five security officers. a lot of security professionals who have reviewed this matter, even those who are critical, that the state department did not do enough have said that the kind of attack that took place would have been very difficult to repel. that's what we have to learn from, congresswoman. you know, there are many -- there are many lessons going back to beirut, going back to tehran and the takeover of our embassy and going all the way through these years. and sometimes we learn lessons and we actually act and we do the best we can, and there's a perfect terrible example of that with respect to what happened in benghazi. >> certainly. and my time has expired, and we'll certainly never know what the outcome would have been if there had been more agents there that night. >> well, that's not what the professionals -- that's not what the experts in security have
concluded. if you read the accountability review board -- >> i have read it, secretary, and it said that security was grossly inadequate. >> well, it said that there were deficiencies within two bureaus in the state department which we have moved to correct. and it also pointed out that the diplomatic security officers who were there acted heroically. there was not one single question about what they did, and they were overrun. and it was unfortunate that the agreement we had with the cia annex and when those brave men showed up, that it was also not enough. >> certainly. and we'll discuss this more. i have to yield back. >> the chair will now recognize the gentleman from washington. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you, madam secretary, for being here. just to clarify, you knew we had a presence. >> of course i knew. i knew, congressman. of course. >> and in going back to an earlier question, you were also
aware of those two attacks on our compounds even though you didn't e-mail about it. >> yes, i was aware. >> and that, i think, you know, sort of points out, after 17 months and $4.7 million as the ranking member pointed out in his opening statements and then as we've seen today, you know, this committee is simply not doing its job. and i don't really think it should have been formed in the first place, but what we've heard here is, first of all, the obsession with e-mail, the idea that two fairly junior-level staffers might not have gotten something wrong and what they heard or the information in an e-mail might, in fact, not be accurate are certainly not things that should be news to anybody. but it is the obsession with the e-mails that takes us off of what should have been the task of this committee. i also find it interesting that ms. roby's final comments were to quote the arb report. yes, the arb report, i think, was very good. i think we absolutely had to have it, and i think it was
appropriate for the committee and congress to do the investigations that they did. but all of that begs the question as to why we've spent the $4.7 million that we have spent on this. and even in the chairman's opening remarks, it was primarily a defense of the committee's existence. not any new information, not here's what we, in those 17 months and $4.7 million, have figured out that is through and different. nothing. in fact, we've heard nothing. even in today's hearing. not a single solitary thing that hasn't already been discussed repeatedly. so we've learned absolutely nothing. yes, we've uncovered a trove of new information. in this age, i don't think there's ever an end to the e-mails. we could probably go on for another two years, and we'd find more. but the question is, have we found anything substantively that tells us something different about what happened in benghazi? and the answer to that question is no.
and look, i didn't think this committee should have been formed in the first place. but if it was going to be formed, the least we could do would be to actually focus on the four brave americans who were killed, why they were killed, and focus on benghazi. and we have not. i mean, mr. raskom's question, he wanted to debate why we got into benghazi in the first place. that's debatable, and i think you will argue that quite well, but that's not about the attack on benghazi. that's not about what we could have done in benghazi to better protect them. so again, i think we've seen that this committee is focused on you. and, you know, i'm the ranking member of the armed services committee. i don't see the department of defense here. i don't see the cia here. there were many, many other agencies involved in this, and yet yours has been the one that they have obsessively focused on. you know, i think that's a shame for a whole lot of reasons, but
for one thing, you know, this committee, as it's been in the news in the last several weeks, has been yet one more step in denigrating this institution. and i happen to think this institution needs more support, not less. so i wish we would stop doing that. and i, you know, he mentioned beirut and that was the first thought that occurred to me when this happened is a democratic congress at the time did a fair and quick investigation of what was an unspeakable tragedy, two separate suicide bombings four months apart and there was clearly inadequate security, but the focus there was not on partisanship, not on embarrassing the reagan administration, but on actually figuring out what happened and how we can better protect americans. now, i want to talk and ask questions about what i think is the central issue and that is how do we have that presence in the world that you described in what is an increasingly dangerous world, because as i
have traveled to pakistan and afghanistan, yemen and other places, i am consistently amazed by the willingness of our diplomatic corps to put their lives at risk. and i wonder how do you balance that very difficult decision? because frankly, what i've heard more often from the diplomatic corps is that they chafe at the restrictions. i mean, i remember vividly being in peshawar which is -- i didn't like the ride from the airport to the embassy, which was ten minutes, and we were there for i don't know, a few hours and then out. the state department personnel, they lived there and went out amongst the community. how do you try and strike that balance of, you know, being present and at the same time, meeting the security obligations and then most importantly, who drives that decision? because it seems to me in most instances, it is driven by the diplomatic corps there. if they take risks, it's because they have decided to do it.
they're there. they know the security situation certainly better than the secretary and better than most everybody else. but what is the proper way to strike that balance going forward to protect our personnel and still fulfill their mission? >> congressman, i think that is the most important question and i would certainly welcome congressional discussion and debate about this, because it's what we tried to do going back to congresswoman duckworth's question. what we tried to begin to do in the quadrennial diplomacy and development review, the first one that was ever done, because that's exactly what we were facing. we have had diplomats and development professionals in war zones now for a number of years. we have had them in places that are incredibly unstable and dangerous because of ongoing conflicts. it is i think the bias of the diplomacy corps that they be there, because that's what they
signed up for and they know that if america is not represented, then we leave a vacuum and we lose our eyes and our ears about what people are thinking and doing. it is certainly the hardest part of the job in many of our agencies and departments today, and it was for me in the state department. that's why i relied on the security professionals, because by the time i got there in 2009, the diplomatic security professionals had been taking care of american diplomats in iraq, in afghanistan, in pakistan, for years, and they had learned a lot of lessons and they were forced to make tough decisions all the time. you mentioned peshawar. one of, clearly the high threat posts that the united states maintains a presence in, but when you think that since 2001,
we have had 100 of our facilities attacked. if we were to shut them all down, if we were to pull out from all of them, we would be blinding ourselves so it's a constant balancing act. what are the risks and what are the rewards for opening, maintaining and/or closing a site. i don't know that there's any hard and fast rule that we can adopt. we just have to get better at making that assessment, congressman, and your question really goes to the heart of it. when you were as a member of congress in peshawar, you were guarded by our diplomatic security professionals. they had to assess was it safe enough for a member of congress to come, how do we get him from the airport to the embassy. it won't surprise you to hear we've had attacks there as so many other places around the world, and that is a heavy responsibility and the diplomatic security professionals get it right 999
times out of 1,000, and it's deeply distressing to them when anything goes wrong. we have lost non-americans with some of these attacks on facilities. we have lost our locally employed staff. they never want to see any successful attack so they have to be -- they have to be right 100% of the time. the terrorists only have to be right once. and you know, that's why this is really at the core of what i tried to do before even i got the accountability review board going back to the qddr to come up with a better way of trying to make those assessments. >> madam secretary, if i may, just two final points. so the bottom line is benghazi on 9-11-2012 was not the only dangerous place in the world where our security personnel were and where these difficult decisions had to be made. >> right. >> the other point i want to make before my time expires, this was 2012 so we were only a couple years into this, but
secretary of defense ash carter just i think yesterday wrote an editorial in "the wall street journal" about the impact of five years of budget uncertainty on the dod's ability to function. for five years we have gone through crs, threatened government shutdowns, one actual government shutdown, and constant budget uncertainty. now, my area is the department of defense. i know how it's impacted them. they basically from one week to the next barely know what they can spend money on. one of the criticisms is you should have spent more money. if you don't have a budget or appropriations bill, how does that complicate your job as secretary in trying to figure out what money you can spend? >> well, it makes it very difficult, congressman. and this is a subject that we talked about all the time. how do you plan. how do you know, you know, you have so many diplomatic security officers in so many dangerous places. how do you know what you're going to have to be able to
deploy and where are you going to have to make the choices. that's why the prioritization which shouldn't have to be in my view the responsibility of the officials in the state department or the defense department to try to guess what makes the most sense. we should have a much more orderly process for our budget and i will say again, as secretary of state, the kind of dysfunction and failure to make decisions that we have been living with in our government hurts us. it hurts us in the obvious ways like where you're going to deploy forces if you're in dod or where are you going to send security if you're in the department of state, but it hurts us as the great country that we are being viewed from abroad as unable to handle our own business, and so it has a lot of consequences. and it's something that i wish that we could get over and have our arguments about policy, have our arguments about substance,
but get back to regular order where we have the greatest nation in the world with a budget that then they can plan against as opposed to the uncertainty that has stalked us now for so long. >> thank you, madam secretary. the bottom line is congress needs to do its job. >> right. i agree with that. >> the gentleman yields back. i will be happy to get a copy of my opening statement for the gentleman from washington so he can refresh his recollection on all the things our committee found that your previous committee missed and with that i will go to the gentleman from georgia. mr. westmoreland. >> thank you. madam secretary, i talk a little slower than everybody else -- >> i lived in arkansas a long time. i don't need an interpreter, congressman. >> so some of the questions i'm asking you can just get us a yes or no answer, that would be great. but i do want you to give us a full answer. mr. smith from washington mentioned that there was no new facts brought out in some of these interviews. i want to just say that i think he was at one interview for one
hour. i have been at a bunch of those and there is a lot of new facts that's come out. one of the things that he said, that you knew about these two incidents that had been mentioned previously. it's not a matter if you knew about them. it's a matter of what you did about them. to us, the answer to that is nothing. now, you say you were briefed by the cia every morning that you were in washington, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> did they ever mention to you assistant acting director morell wrote in his book that there were scores of intelligence pieces describing in detail how the situation in libya was becoming more and more dangerous. did you ever read any of these pieces? >> yes. as i have previously stated, we
were certainly aware that the situation across libya was becoming more dangerous and that there were particular concerns about eastern libya. >> did you read the piece that was libya, al qaeda establishing sanctuary? >> i'm aware that that was certainly among the information provided to me. >> there was another particular piece that was talked about after the ied attack that al qaeda expands in libya. were you familiar with that? >> i can't speak to specific pieces, congressman, but i was well aware of the concerns we all had about the setting up of jihadist training camps and other activities in libya, particularly in eastern libya. >> you were briefed and i think the cia between january and