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tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  October 22, 2015 9:00am-10:01am PDT

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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 september of 2012 had over 4500 pages of intelligence.
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were you aware of how many pages of intelligence and i know you had a specific division, i guess, of the state department under you that was called intelligence and research. did they keep you up to speed on all these 400 cables or different things that they were getting? did they keep you up to speed on that that you were aware of them? >> congressman, i can't speak to specific reports but i can certainly agree with you that i was briefed and aware of the increasingly dangerous upsurge in militant activity in libya. >> so what did you do to make sure that our men and women over there were protected, knowing how much the threat had grown, especially in benghazi, because a lot of people say that really,
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in the summer of 2012, the security in benghazi was worse than it was during the revolution. >> well, congressman, with respect to not only the specific incidents that you referenced earlier, but the overall concerns about benghazi, i think i have stated previously there was never any recommendation by anyone, the intelligence community, the defense department, the state department, officials responsible for libya, to leave benghazi, even after the two incidents that you mentioned, because in part, as i responded to congressman smith, we had so many attacks on facilities that as i said, went back to 2001, that certainly also happened in other parts of the world while i was there. each was evaluated and there was not a recommendation.
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furthermore, there was not even on the morning of september 11th, while chris stevens and sean smith were at the compound, chris had spoken with intelligence experts, there was no credible actionable threat known to our intelligence community against our compound. >> reclaiming my time, you said that the ambassador was pulled out of tripoli because of threats on his life. >> there were threats from people associated with gadhafi after the publication of cables he had written that were made public by wikileaks. >> you say you were aware of the two attacks at the mission facility in benghazi. mr. morell in his book states that there was 20 attacks on that facility. are you familiar with the other 18?
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>> there were two that we thought rose to the level of being serious. and -- >> were you familiar with the other 18? >> i'm not aware of 18 others. and i would point out, and i'm sure that former deputy director morell made this point when he was testifying, the cia stayed in libya. the cia had a much bigger presence than the state department, despite the overall decline in stability. some might argue actually because of the overall decline in stability, it was thought to be even more important for the cia to stay there and they also did not believe that their facility would be the subject of a deadly attack, either, because i think sometimes, you know, sometimes the discussion gets pulled together when really, we had chris and sean dying at the state department compound which
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we were discussing, and we had our other two deaths of tyrone woods and glenn dougherty at the cia annex -- >> reclaiming my time for just a minute. i do appreciate that but if you talk to the cia contractors that were at the annex and you ask them how they were armed and equipped, and then if you would or could talk to the diplomatic security agents that were at the facility, i think you will see that there was a big, big difference in the equipment that they had to protect themselves. but you knew of the two what you call major incidents but you don't recollect the other 18 that mr. morell says happened. how many instances would it have taken you to say hey, we need to look at the security over there? would it have been three major instances? 30 instances? 40 instances? 50 instances?
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how many instances would you have been made aware of that would have made you say hey, i don't care what anybody else says, we're going to protect our people, chris stevens is a good friend of mine, we're going to look after him? how many would it have taken? >> congressman, of course i made it abundantly clear that we had to do everything we could to protect our people. what i did not and do not believe any secretary should do was to substitute my judgment from thousands of miles away for the judgment of the security professionals who made the decisions about what kind of security would be provided. i know that sounds somewhat hard to understand, but you know, we have a process and the experts who i have the greatest confidence in and who had been through so many difficult positions because practically all of them had rotated through
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afghanistan, pakistan, iraq, yemen, other places, they were the ones making the assessment. no one ever came to me and said we should shut down our compound in benghazi. >> i'm not saying shut it down. i'm saying protect it. >> well -- >> i'm not saying shut it down. i'm just saying protect it. >> right. >> when you say security professionals, i'm not trying to be disparaging with anybody, but i don't know who those folks were, but -- >> well, they were people who risked their lives to try to save -- >> -- professional when it came to protecting people. let me say this. you said the mission that you gave ambassador stevens was to go in to investigate the situation. if you're going to investigate a situation, it would seem to me like you would have to get out into the country to investigate that. i don't know if you're aware of it or not, but there were not
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even enough diplomatic security for him to leave the compound without asking the cia operatives to assist them. were you aware of that? >> well, we had an agreement with the cia to help supplement security and to come to the aid -- it was a mutual agreement. >> was that a written agreement? >> no. it was not a written agreement. but we are posted with the cia in many places in the country -- in the world, and it's important to have a good working relationship and we did, and unfortunately, despite all the weapons and despite the fortification to cia contractors died at the cia annex that night. >> just to follow up on one thing about ambassador stevens. you got a lot of e-mails from sidney blumenthal and you say that mr. blumenthal was a friend of yours. and he had your personal e-mail
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address. you say chris stevens was a friend of yours. he asked numerous times for extra protection. now, if i had been mr. stevens and i think anybody out there, anybody watching this, would agree if i had been mr. stevens, and i had had a relationship with you, and i had requested 20 or more times for additional security to protect not only my life but the people that were there with me, i would have gotten in touch with you some way. i would have let you know that i was in danger and the situation had deteriorated to a point i needed you to do something. did he have your personal e-mail? >> congressman, i do not believe that he had my personal e-mail. he had the e-mail and he had the direct line to everybody that he had worked with for years.
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he had been posted with officials in the state department. they had gone through difficult challenging dangerous assignments together. he was in constant contact with people. yes, he and the people working for him asked for more security. some of those requests were approved. others were not. we are obviously looking to learn what more we could do, because it was not only about benghazi, it was also about the embassy in tripoli, and i think it's fair to say that chris asked for what he and his people requested because he thought that it would be helpful, but he never said to anybody in the state department, you know what, we just can't keep doing this, we just can't stay there. he was in constant contact with people on my staff, other officials in the state department, and you know, i did
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have an opportunity to talk with him about the substance of the policy, but with respect to security, he took those requests where they belonged. he took them to the security professionals and i have to add, congressman, the diplomatic security professionals are among the best in the world. i would put them up against anybody. and i just cannot allow any comment to be in the record in any way criticizing or disparaging them. they have kept americans safe in two wars and in a lot of other really terrible situations over the last many years. i trusted them with my life. you trust them with yours when you're on codels. they deserve better and they deserve all the support that the congress can give them because they are doing a really hard job very well. >> ma'am, all i can say is that they missed something here and we lost four americans. >> the time has expired. the chair recognizes the
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gentleman from kansas, mr. pompeo. >> madam secretary, you referred to the qddr a couple times as being important to diplomatic security, is that right? >> it provoked a discussion, congressman, about balancing of risk. >> madam secretary, i had the chance to read that. i wanted to only read the executive summary. it ran 25 pages. but it didn't have a word about diplomatic security in those entire 25 pages of the executive summary. not one word, madam secretary. then i read the remaining pages, amounted to 270 plus. do you know how many of those 270 pages had to do with diplomatic security? >> it was about the balancing of risk and reward which was not only about diplomatic security specifically, but about the larger question of our mission around the world. >> madam secretary, there was no balance. there was no balance. there was two pages out of 270 pages. you talked about a lot of things in there. you talked about a lot of improvements. it didn't have anything to do with diplomatic security in any
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material way in that report. you talked about being disappointed, i heard you use that several times, you were disapointed. you read the arb. why didn't you fire someone? in kansas, i get asked constantly why has no one been held accountable, how come not a single person lost a single paycheck connected to the fact that we had the first ambassador killed since 1979? how come no one has been held accountable to date? >> well, congressman, the accountability review board pointed out several people working in the state department who they thought had not carried out their responsibilities adequately but they said they could not find a breach of duty and -- >> yes, ma'am -- >> -- the personnel rules and the laws that govern those decisions were followed very carefully. >> yes, ma'am. i'm not asking what the a.r.b. did. i'm asking what you did. >> i followed the law, congressman. that was my responsibility.
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>> you're telling me you had no authority to take anyone's paycheck, to cause anyone to be fired? you are telling me you were legally prohibited from doing that? is that your position here this morning? >> it is my position that in the absence of finding dereliction or breach of duty there could not be immediate action taken but there was a process that was immediately instituted and which led to decisions being made. >> yes, ma'am. the decision was to put in fullback pay and keep them on as employees. that was the decision that was made as a result of the processes that you put in place. the folks in kansas don't think that is accountability. i want to do some math with you. could i get the first chart, please? do you know how many security requests there were in the first quarter of 2012? >> for everyone or for benghazi? >> i'm sorry, for benghazi and libya. do you know how many? >> no, i do not know. >> just over 100 plus.
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in the second quarter do you know how many? >> no, i do not. >> might have been 171 or 173. how many were there in july and august and then in the week and a few days before the attacks, do you know? >> there were a number of them. i know that. >> yes, ma'am, 83 by our count. that's over 600 requests. you have testified here this morning that you had none of those reach your desk, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> madam secretary, mr. blumenthal wrote you 150 e-mails. it appears from the materials that we have read that all of those reached your desk. can you tell us why security requests from your professionals, the men that you just testified and with which i agree are incredibly professional, incredibly capable people, trained in the art of keeping us all safe, none of those made it to you? but a man who was a friend of yours who had never been to libya, didn't know much about it, at least that's his testimony, didn't know much about it, every one of those reports that he sent on to you that had to do with situations on the ground in libya, those made it to your desk.
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you asked for more of them. you read them. you corresponded with him. yet the folks that worked for you didn't have the same courtesy. >> well, congressman, as you're aware, he's a friend of mine. he sent me information he thought might be of interest. some of it was, some of it wasn't, some of it i forwarded to be followed up on. the professionals and experts who reviewed it found some of it useful, some of it not. he had no official position in the government and he was not at all my advisor on libya. he was a friend who sent me information that he thought might be in some way helpful. >> madam secretary, i have lots of friends who send me things. i have never had somebody send me a couple pieces of intelligence with the level of detail mr. blumenthal sent every week. that's a special friend. >> well, it was information that had been shared with him that he forwarded on. as someone who got the vast majority of the information that i acted on from official
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channels, i read a lot of articles that brought new ideas to my attention and occasionally, people including him and others would give me ideas. they all went into the same process to be evaluated. >> i will tell you the record we have received to date does not reflect that. it simply doesn't. we read the e-mails, we read everything we could get our hands on. it has taken us a long time to get it. you just described all this other information you relied upon and it doesn't comport with the record this committee has been able to establish. take a look at this chart to the left. you will see the increasing number of requests, over 600. i think data matters. the pictures are worth a lot. you see the increase in the requests and the bottom line is the increase in security. you will note the slope of those two lines is very different. can you account for why that is? why we have an increase in requests, yet no increase in security? >> well, congressman, i can only
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tell you that i know a number of requests were fulfilled and some were not. but from my perspective again, these were handled by the people that were assigned the task of evaluating them, and you know, i think it's important to again reiterate that although there were problems and deficiencies discovered by the accountability review board, the general approach to have security professionals handle security requests i think still stands. >> yes, ma'am. i wish you had listened to those security professionals. you described mr. stevens as having the best knowledge of libya of anyone, your words this morning, and yet when he asked for increased security, he didn't get it. second chart, please. this chart does the same thing. i just talked to you about requests for additional assistance. i won't go through the numbers in detail, we have talked about them a bit, but it shows the increasing number of security incidents at the facility. your facility.
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state department facility. in benghazi, libya. then again, it shows the increase in security being nonexistent. i assume your answer is the same with respect to the fact that we have increasing security incidents but no corresponding increase in the amount of security? >> congressman, i just have to respectfully disagree. many security requests were fulfilled. we would be happy to get that information for the record. so i can't really tell what it is you are putting on that poster but i know that a number of the security requests were fulfilled for benghazi. >> what it shows is the number of direct diplomatic security agents at the beginning of 2012 and those that were there the day of the murder of four americans is no different. >> congressman, the decision as i recall was that the post, namely embassy tripoli on behalf of benghazi, requested five diplomatic security personnel and they did have that on the
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day that chris stevens was in benghazi. unfortunately, that proved insufficient in the face of the kind of attack that they were facing. >> put the next poster up, please. you're not likely to know who these two folks are, do you? >> i do not. >> one on the left is mohammed al zawahari, head of a sharia group based in benghazi. the one on the left is hamid. are you aware your folks in libya met with that man within 48 hours before the attack? >> i know nothing about any meeting with him. >> on september 11th, on the day that he was killed, ambassador stevens sent a cable to the state department talking about his meeting. are you aware of that cable? >> no, i'm not. >> he said in his cable, he said they, they wanted an
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introductory meeting. they were here, they asked us what we needed to bring security to benghazi. so your officials were meeting with this man on the ground in benghazi, libya, discussing security two days before that, but in august of that same year, the united states government had said that this very man was quote, a young rebel leader who allegedly fought in iraq under the flag of al qaeda. were you aware that our folks were either wittingly or unwittingly meeting on the ground with members of al qaeda hours before the attack? >> i know nothing about this, congressman. >> i think that's deeply disturbing. the fact that your team was -- >> i'm sorry, which team is this? >> we don't know exactly who -- >> well, it would be helpful -- >> it would have been one of your state department employees, madam secretary. i don't know which one. perhaps you could enlighten us or we can get the records we need to do so. to date we have not been able to learn that. >> since we didn't have an ongoing significant presence of
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state department personnel in benghazi, i don't know to whom you are referring. >> mr. chairman, i will yield back the balance of my time. >> the chair will now recognize the gentlelady from california, miss sanchez. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, madam secretary, for coming again to answer our questions. we know that over the last 17 months, there have been a number of allegations that have been made with respect to you and when the facts and the testimony and the record don't support that, we seem to move on to the next new allegation. one of the more recent ones is that republicans are claiming that because you received e-mails from sidney blumenthal that he was your primary source for intelligence. now, chairman gowdy claimed that mr. blumenthal was, and i'm going to quote him here, quote, secretary clinton's primary advisor on libya because nearly half of all the e-mails sent to and from secretary clinton
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regarding benghazi and libya prior to the benghazi terrorist attacks involved sidney blumenthal, end quote. he also claimed that mr. blumenthal was, and i'm quoting again, one of the folks providing her the largest volume of information about libya. secretary clinton, was sidney blumenthal your primary policy advisor or your primary intelligence officer? >> no. of course not. >> was he the primary source of information that you were receiving on libya? >> no. absolutely not. >> can you tell us then who were you receiving information from and in what form? because there has been a particular emphasis on e-mail communication and e-mail communication only. >> well, as i testified earlier, i did not primarily conduct business on e-mail with officials in our government, and i think the e-mails that have been produced thus far demonstrate that as well. as i said, i got intelligence
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briefings from the intelligence community. i had a very experienced group of senior diplomats who knew quite a bit about libya, deputy secretary bill burns had been our nation's top diplomat who actually had negotiated with gadhafi prior to the entering in by the united states to support our european allies and arab partners, i sent a team to meet with representatives of gadhafi to see if there was some way that he would back down and back off of his increasingly hysterical threats against his own people. we had people like the ambassador that i referenced earlier who had served in libya and had had the occasion to observe and to meet with gadhafi. so we had a very large group of american diplomats, intelligence
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officers and some private citizens who were experts in libya, who were available to our government, and we took advantage of every person we could with expertise to guide our decision-making. >> so would it be fair to say that you received information from ambassador stevens? >> yes. >> the assistant secretary for near eastern affairs? >> yes. >> the director of policy planning, jacob sullivan? >> yes. >> the national security council? >> yes. t-intelligence community? >> yes. >> defense department? >> yes. >> this weekend, one of our colleagues on this panel, mr. pompeo, went on "meet the press." he had this exchange. can we please play the video clip? >> mr. blumenthal, it goes directly to the security issue. we see now that former secretary relied on mr. blumenthal for most of her intelligence.
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>> that is factually not correct. relied on mr. blumenthal for most of her intelligence? >> take a look at the e-mail. >> i cover the state department. that is just factually not correct. >> that clip for me just defies all logic. i think andrea mitchell correctly called him out on something that was a falsehood. secretary clinton, what did you think when you heard that clip? >> well, that it was factually untrue. i think your questioning and what i have stated today is a much clearer and more factual description of how we gathered information to make our decisions regarding libya. >> with your answer that you believe it to be factually incorrect i just want to add that "the washington post" fact-checker immediately awarded that claim four pinocchios which is the worst rating possible, and i'm going to quote the "post" on what they said about that quote. looking at her private e-mails
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is just part of the picture and it ignores the vast amount of information, much of it classified, that is available to the secretary of state. secretary clinton, would you agree with that statement from the "washington post"? >> yes, i would. >> so it seems to me there have been allegations that the work that this committee has done has been political in nature and that much of the facts have already been decided before all of the evidence is in, including your testimony here today. when i see clips like that, it sort of supports the theory that this panel is not really interested in investigating what happened just prior to the evening of and immediately in the aftermath of september 11, 2012, but that in fact, there is another motive behind that. we have you here and so while you are here, i want to make the most of your time and allow you to sort of debunk many of the myths that have been generated over the last 17 months, most of which have no factual basis for
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those being said. one is that you seemingly were disengaged the evening of september 11, 2012. for example, mike huckabee accused you as mr. cummings said of ignoring the warning calls from dying americans in benghazi and senator rand paul stated that benghazi was a 3:00 a.m. phone call that you never picked up, and senator lindsey graham tweeted where the hell were you on the night of the benghazi attack. those appear to be based on the testimony of witnesses and the documentation that we have obtained in this committee and other previous committees, they seem to run counter to the truth, because the testimony we have received states pretty much that you were deeply engaged the night of the attack. so can you describe for us what the initial hours of that night were like for you, and how you learned about the attacks and what your initial thoughts and actions were? >> congresswoman, i learned
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about the attacks from a state department official rushing into my office shortly after or around 4:00 to tell me that our compound in benghazi had been attacked. we immediately summoned all of the top officials in the state department for them to begin reaching out, the most important quick call was to try to reach chris himself. that was not possible, then to have the diplomatic security people try to reach their agents. that was not possible. they were obviously defending themselves along with the am ambassador and sean smith. we reached the second in command in tripoli. he had heard shortly before we reached him from chris stevens, telling him that they were under attack. we began to reach out to everyone we could possibly think who could help with this
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terrible incident. during the course of the following hours, obviously i spoke to the white house, i spoke to cia director petraeus, i spoke to the libyan officials because i hoped that there was some way that they could gather up and deploy those who had been part of the insurgency to defend our compound. i had conference calls with our team in tripoli. ways on a video conference with officials who had operational responsibilities in the defense department, in the cia at the national security council. it was just a swirl and whirl of constant effort to try to figure out what we could do and it was deeply -- it was deeply distressing when we heard that the efforts by our cia
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colleagues were not successful, that they had had to evacuate the security officers, our diplomatic security officers, that they had recovered sean smith's body and they could not find the ambassador. we didn't know whether he had escaped and was still alive, or not. >> if i may, because my time is running short, i just want to point out that you spoke with folks on the ground, you spoke with folks in the white house, the cia, the libyan president of the general national congress. now, interestingly enough, former director of the cia david petraeus has not been before this committee and has not spoken with this committee, but he did testify before the house intelligence committee in 2012 and he said that you personally called him and asked him for help that night, and i just want to end on this quote. quote, when secretary clinton called me later that afternoon to indicate that am bassador
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stevens was missing and asked for help, i directed our folks to ensure that we were doing everything possible and that is of course, what they were doing that night. is that correct? >> that is, and also the defense department was doing everything it could possibly do. we had a plane bringing additional security from tripoli to benghazi. there was an enormous amount of activity. it was all hands on deck. everyone jumped in to try to figure out what they could do. the attack on the compound was very fast. >> would it be safe to say you were fully engaged that evening? >> that is certainly safe to say. >> thank you. i yield back. >> the chair would now recognize the gentleman from ohio, mr. jordan. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you just gave a long answer, madam secretary, to miss sanchez about what you heard that night, what you were doing, but nowhere in there did you mention a video. you didn't mention a video because there was never a video
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inspired protest in benghazi. there was in cairo but not in benghazi. victoria newland, your spokesperson at the state department, hours after the attack, said this. benghazi has been attacked by militan militants. in cairo, police have removed demonstrators. benghazi, you got weapons and explosions, cairo, you got spray paint and rocks. one hour before the attack in benghazi, chris stevens walks a diplomat to the front gate. the ambassador didn't report a demonstration. he didn't report it because it never happened. an eyewitness in the command center that night on the ground said no protest, no demonstration. two intelligence reports that day, no protest, no demonstration. attack starts at 3:42 eastern time, ends at approximately 11:40 p.m. that night. at 4:06, an office alert goes out across the state department. says this, mission under attack, armed men, shots fired, explosions heard.
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no mention of video, no mention of a protest, no mention of a demonstration. but the best evidence is greg hicks, the number two guy in libya, who worked side by side with ambassador stevens. he was asked if there had been a protest would the ambassador have reported it. mr. hicks' response, absolutely. for there to have been a demonstration on chris stevens' front door and him not to have reported it is unbelievable, mr. hicks said. he said secondly, if it had been reported, he would have been out the back door within minutes and there was a back gate. everything points to a terrorist attack. we just heard from mr. pompeo about the long history of terrorist incidents, terrorist violence in the country, yet five days later, susan rice goes on five tv shows and says this. benghazi was a spontaneous reaction as a consequence of a video. a statement we all know is false. don't take my word for it. here's what others have said.
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rice was off the reservation. off the reservation on five networks. white house worried about the politics. republicans didn't make those statements. they were made by the people who worked for you in the near eastern affairs bureau, the actual experts on libya in the state department. so if there's no evidence for a video inspired protest, then where did the false narrative start? started with you, madam secretary. at 10:08 on the night of the attack you released this statement. some have sought to justify the vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet. at 10:08 with no evidence, at 10:08 before the attack is over, at 10:08, when woods and dougherty are still on the roof of the annex fighting for their lives, the official statement of the state department blames a video. why?
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>> during the day on september 11th, as you did mention, congressman, there was a very large protest against our embassy in cairo. protesters breached the walls. they tore down the american flag, and it was of grave concern to us, because the inflammatory video had been shown on egyptian television which has a broader reach than just inside egypt. and if you look at what i said, i referred to the video that night in a very specific way. i said some have sought to justify the attack because of the video. i used those words deliberately, not to ascribe a motive to every attacker, but as a warning to those across the region that there was no justification for
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further attacks and in fact, during the course of that week, we had many attacks that were all about the video. we had people breaching the walls of our embassies in tunis and khartoum, people thankfully not americans dying at protests but that's what was going on, congressman. >> i appreciate most of those attacks were after the attack on the facility in benghazi. you mentioned cairo. interesting what else miss newland said that day. she said if pressed, by the press, if there's a connection between cairo and benghazi, she said this. there's no connection between the two. so here's what troubles me. your experts knew the truth. your spokesperson knew the truth. greg hicks knew the truth. but what troubles me more is i think you knew the truth. i want to show you a few things here. you are looking at an e-mail you sent to your family. here's what you said. at 11:00 that night,
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approximately one hour after you told the american people it was a video, you say to your family two officers were killed today in benghazi by an al qaeda-like group. you tell the american people one thing, you tell your family an entirely different story. also, on the night of the attack, you had a call with the president of libya. here's what you said to him. ansar al sharia is claiming responsibilities. interesting, one of the guys arrested in charge actually belonged to that group. finally, most significantly, the next day within 24 hours, you had a conversation with the egyptian prime minister, you told him this. we know the attack in libya had nothing to do with a film. it was a planned attack, not a protest. let me read that one more time. we know, not we think, not it
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might be, we know the attack in libya had nothing to do with a film. it was a planned attack, not a protest. state department experts knew the truth. you knew the truth. but that's not what the american people got. again, the american people want to know why. why didn't you tell the american people exactly what you told the egyptian prime minister? >> well, i think if you look at the statement that i made, i clearly said that it was an attack and i also said that there were some who tried to justify it on the basis of the video, congressman, and i think -- >> real quick, calling it an attack is like saying the sky's blue. of course it was an attack. we want to know the truth. the statement you sent out was a statement on benghazi and you say vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material on the internet. that's certainly how the american people saw it. >> well, congressman, there was a lot of conflicting information
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that we were trying to make sense of. the situation was very fluid. it was fast-moving. there was also a claim of responsibility by ansar al sharia and when i talked to the egyptian prime minister, i said that this was a claim of responsibility by ansar al sharia, by a group that was affiliated or at least wanted to be affiliated with al qaeda. sometime after that, the next day, early the next morning after that, on the 12th or 13th, they retracted their claim of responsibility. i think if you look at what all of us were trying to do, and we were in a position, congressman, of trying to make sense of a lot of incoming information and watch the way the intelligence community tried to make sense of it. so all i can say is nobody -- >> there was not conflicting information the day of the attack because your press secretary said if pressed, there's no connection between cairo and benghazi. it was clear. you are the ones who muddied it
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up, not the information. >> well, there's no connection -- >> here's what i think's going on. here's what i think's going on. let me show you one more slide. again, this is from victoria newland, your press person. she says to jake sullivan, subject line reads this. romney's statement on libya. e-mail says this is what ben was talking about. i assume ben is the now somewhat famous ben rhodes, author of the talking points memo. this e-mail's at 10:35, 27 minutes after your 10:08 statement. 27 minutes after you have told everyone it's a video, while americans are still fighting because the attack's still going on, your top people are talking politics. seems to me that night you had three options, secretary. you could tell the truth like you did with your family, like you did with the libyan president, like you did with the
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egyptian prime minister, tell them it was a terrorist attack. you could say you know what, we're not quite sure. don't really know for sure. i don't think the evidence is there. i think it's all -- but you could have done that. you picked the third option, the video narrative. you picked the one with no evidence and you did it because libya was supposed to be this great success story for the obama white house and the clinton state department and a key campaign theme that year was g.m.'s alive, bin laden's dead, al qaeda's on the run. now you have a terrorist attack. it's a terrorist attack in libya and it's just 56 days before an election. you could live with the protest about a video. that won't hurt you. but a terrorist attack will. so you can't be square with the american people. tell your family it's a terrorist attack, but not the american people. you can tell the president of
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libya it's a terrorist attack but not the american people. and you can tell the egyptian prime minister it's a terrorist attack but you can't tell your own people the truth. madam secretary, americans can live with the packfact that goo people sometimes give their lives for this country. they don't like it. they mourn for those families, they pray for those families, but they can live with it. what they can't live with is when their government's not square with them. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> madam secretary, you are welcome to answer the question if you would like to. >> well, i wrote a whole chapter about this in my book "hard choices." i would be glad to send it to you, congressman, because i think the insinuations that you are making do a grave disservice to the hard work that people in the state department, the intelligence community, the defense department, the white
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house did during the course of some very confusing and difficult days. there is no doubt in my mind that we did the best we could with information that we had at the time and if you would actually go back and read what i said that night -- >> i have. >> -- i was very careful in saying that some have sought to justify, in fact, the man that has been arrested as one of the ringleaders of what happened in benghazi is reported to have said it was the video that motivated him. none of us can speak to the individual motivations of those terrorists who overran our compound and who attacked our cia annex. there were probably a number of different motivations. i think the intelligence community which took the lead on trying to sort this out, as they should have, went through a
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series of interpretations and analysis, and we were all guided by that. we were not making up the intelligence. we were trying to get it, make sense of it and then to share it. when i was speaking to the egyptian prime minister or in the other two examples you showed, we had been told by ansar al sharia that they took credit for it. it wasn't until about 24 or more hours later that they retracted taking credit for it. we also knew, congressman, because my responsibility was for what was happening throughout the region, i needed to be talking about the video because i needed to be putting other governments and other people on notice that we were not going to let them get away with attacking us, as they did in tunis, as they did in khartoum, and in tunis, there were thousands of demonstrators who were there only because of
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the video, breaching the walls of our embassy, burning down the american school. i was calling everybody in the tunisian government i could get and finally the presidential guard was sent to break it up. there's example after example. that's what i was trying to do during those very desperate and difficult hours. >> if i could, secretary clinton, you said my insinuation. i'm not insinuating anything. i'm reading what you said. plain language. we know the attack in libya had nothing to do with a film. that's as plain as it can get. that's vastly different than vicious behavior justified by internet material. why didn't you just speak plain to the american people? >> i did. if you look at my statement as opposed to what i was saying to the egyptian prime minister, i did state clearly and i said it again in more detail the next morning, as did the president. i'm sorry that it doesn't fit your narrative, congressman. i can only tell you what the facts were, and the facts as the
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democratic members have pointed out in their most recent collection of them, support this process that was going on where the intelligence community was pulling together information and it's very much harder to do it these days than it used to be, because you have to monitor social media, for goodness' sakes. that's where the ansar al sharia claim was placed. i think the intelligence community did the best job they could, and we all did our best job to try to figure out what was going on and then to convey that to the american people. >> the gentleman's time has expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california, mr. schiff. >> thank you, mr. chairman. madam secretary, we are almost at the end of the first round of questions. i will have an opportunity then i think the chairman will before we have a break just to let you know where we are in the scheme of things. so i want to take a moment to think about what we've covered
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in this first round. in particular, comment on where this began with the chairman's statement. the chairman said at the outset of the hearing that the american people are entitled to the truth. the truth about what happened in benghazi, the truth about the security there, the truth about what happened after the attack. the implication of this of course is that the american people don't know the truth, that this is the first investigation we have ever had. the reality is we have had eight investigations. we have gone through this endlessly. and if you just look at the document, we have the a.r.b. report, we have the report of the armed services committee led by republican buck mckeen which debunked the stand-down order allegation. we have the report of the committee on government reform. we have the report of the senate homeland security committee.
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we have the report of the house foreign affairs committee. we have the gop conference's own report. we have the report of the intelligence committee on which i serve. bear in mind, these aren't with accompanying exhibits or the classified stuff because it would be up through the ceiling if i included them. this is the report of our committee. this is what $4.7 million of taxpayer money buy you. this is what 17 months of investigation have shown. now, the chairman said and he's a very good lawyer and a good former prosecutor, we have a lot of former prosecutors here on the panel, he gave you a great recitation of the number of witnesses and the number of documents. there are too many good prosecutors on this panel not to know that when a lawyer describes the metrics of the success of an investigation by the sheer number of people they have talked to or the volume of
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documents, but says nothing about the substance of what they have learned, that there's a problem. and the reality is that after 17 months, we have nothing new to tell the families. we have nothing new to tell the american people. we have discovered nothing that alters the core conclusions of the eight investigations that went on before. now, my colleagues have been saying quite often this week with amazing regularity that this is a fact-centric investigation. and i agree. so i would like to talk about some of the facts which are centric to this investigation, because while the american people are entitled to the truth about benghazi, they are also entitled to the truth about our committee. fact, what gave rise to your appearance here today was many months ago, a group called the stop hillary pac which aired an offensive ad during the
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democratic debate showing the tombstone of master stevens, among other things, delivered 264,000 signatures demanding that you appear before us. fact, it was the next day the majority approached us to have you come before this committee. fact, after the "new york times" issued its story in march, this committee canceled all other hearings except for the hearing with a witness named clinton. fact, we abandoned our plans to bring in the secretary of defense and the head of the cia. fact, we haven't had a single hearing from the department of defense in 17 months. fact, of the 70,000 pages of documents obtained by the select committee, the only documents the chairman has chosen to release publicly are your e-mails with sidney blumenthal.
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fact, of the 32 press releases that had been issued since march of this year, 27 of them are about you or the state department and five are about everything else. fact, as recently as last week, the chairman issued a 13-page letter which alleges that you risked the lives of people by sending an e-mail that contain the name of a classified cia source. fact, cia told us there was nothing in that e-mail that was classified, nor was the name of that person who is well known to many. the chairman has said that this will be the final definitive report. one thing i think we can tell already, there will be nothing final about this report. whenever we finish, if ever we finish, what we have had as a committee is we don't know what we're looking for, but there
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won't be a final conclusion. there won't be anything definitive about the work of this committee because unlike the accountability review board that operated in a nonpartisan way, it's unlikely the majority here will even consult with us on what their final report looks like. those who want to believe the worst will believe the worst. those that want to believe that this is a partisan exercise will believe it. as i said from the very beginning of this investigation, the only way this committee will add any value to what's gone on before is if we can find a way to work together and reach a common conclusion. but it is plain that is not their object. the chairman might say ignore the words of our republican leadership and ignore the words of our republican members. ignore the words of our own gop investigator. judge us by our actions but it is the actions of this committee that are the most damning of all, because they have been singly focused on you.
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let me ask you briefly, i want to expand on just what i think is really the core theory here. i want to give you a chance to respond to it. as a prosecutor, we are taught that every case should have a core theory and all the evidence and the witnesses go back to that core theory, and i have wrestled as i listened to my colleagues today, as i have over the 17 months, what is the core theory of their case? what are they trying to convey? and i have to say, it's confusing. i think the core theory is this. that you deliberately interfered with security in benghazi and that resulted in people dying. i think that is the case they want to make. and notwithstanding how many investigations we have had that have found absolutely no merit to that, that is the impression they wish to give. i have to say i'm a little confused today because my colleague pointed to an e-mail suggesting that you weren't aware we had a presence in benghazi so if you weren't aware we had a presence, i don't know how you could have interfered with the security there. but nonetheless, i do think
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that's what they are aiming at. i know the ambassador was someone you helped pick. i know the ambassador was a friend of yours. and i wonder if you would like to comment on what it's like to be the subject of an allegation that you deliberately interfered with security that cost the life of a friend. >> congressman, it's a very personally painful accusation. it has been rejected and disproven by nonpartisan, dispassionate investigators but nevertheless, having it continued to be bandied around is deeply distressing to me. you know, i would imagine i have thought more about what happened than all of you put together. i have lost more sleep than all of you put together. i have been wracking my brain about what more could have been
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done or should have been done. and so when i took responsibility, i took it as a challenge and an obligation to make sure before i left the state department that what we could learn as i'm sure my predecessors did after beirut and after nairobi and after all of the other attacks on our facilities, i'm sure all of them, republican and democrat alike, especially where there was loss of american life, said okay, what must we do better, how do we protect the men and women that we send without weapons, without support from the military, into some of the most dangerous places in the world. and so i will continue to speak out and do everything i can from
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whatever position i'm in to honor the memory of those we lost, and to work as hard as i know to try to create more understanding and cooperation between the state department, our diplomats, our development professionals from u.s. a.i.d. and the congress so that the congress is a partner with us, as was the case in previous times. i would like us to get back to those times, congressman, whereas i think one of you said beirut, we lost far more americans not once but twice within a year. there was no partisan effort. people rose above politics. a democratic congress worked with a republican administration to say what do we need to learn. out of that came the legislation
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for the accountability review board. similarly after we lost more americans in the bombings in east africa, again, republicans and democrats worked together, said what do we need to do better. so i'm an optimist, congressman. i'm hoping that that will be the outcome of this and every other effort so that we really do honor not only those we lost, but all those who right as we speak are serving in dangerous places representing the values and the interests of the american people. >> thank you, madam secretary. >> the gentleman from california yields back. i'm going to address a couple of things that you said and then recognize myself, because he invoked the family members of the four, madam secretary, and partially this will be for your benefit also. but i want to specifically address the family members that are here. there is no theory of the prosecution, mr. schiff, because there is no prosecution.
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there's a very big difference between a prosecution where you already have reached a conclusion and you are just trying to prove it to people. this is an investigation which is why it's so sad that nowhere in that stack that you just put up there or the e-mails of secretary clinton, the e-mails of the ambassador, 50,000 pages worth of documents, eyewitnesses. that's the real tragedy. to the family and the friends, when you are told that there have been seven previous investigations and an a.r.b. you should immediately ask why did you miss so many witnesses, why did you miss so many documents. this is not a prosecution, mr. schiff. you and i are both familiar with them. i have reached no conclusions and i would advise you to not reach any conclusions either until we reach the end. there are 20 more witnesses. so i will agree not to reach any conclusions if you will do the same. with that, madam secretary, regardless of where he ranked in the order of advisors, it is
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undisputed that a significant number of your e-mails were to or from sidney blumenthal. he did not work for the state department. he didn't work for the u.s. government at all. he wanted to work for the state department but the white house said no to him. do you recall who specifically at the white house rejected sidney blumenthal? >> no, i do not. >> after he was turned down for a job at the state department, by the white house, he went to work where? >> i think he had a number of consulting contracts with different entities. >> if he had a number of them, do you recall any of them? >> i know that he did some work for my husband. >> well, he worked for the clinton foundation. >> that's correct. >> okay. he worked for media matters. >> i'm sure he did. >> he worked for correct the record. >> i'm sure he did. >> when you were asked about sidney blumenthal, you said he


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