[WOTN note: Some of the following is paraphrased and some is quotes. Some of the quotes are not in quotation marks. Effort was made to capture the essence of the words, in order to allow readers to find the specific portions of most signifcant interest to them. Some key phrases are emphasized, as Hillary acknowledges that Al-Qaeda is still and will be a threat for a long time.
In this testimony, Hillary avoids stating why no action was taken in the 7 hour attack and at times refuses responsibility for inaction, while at other times proclaiming that she takes full responsibility. She does indicate that Rice was using Admin approved talking points, but feebly attempts to defend it.]
10:46: SEN Corker (R-TN) welcoming Hillary, the "aftermath" of "Benghazi represents the worst of Washington," "there was spin from the White House," "it represented of the denial of the world as it really is," "it also represents an awakening," "the spiking of the ball" and the thinking that al-Qaeda was defeated when we killed bin Laden, that the world is a much more dangerous place today.
16:46: SecState Clinton (D) pointing out past attacks, that she immediately began talking to people about talking, began investigation the next day. The attack "was a part of broader strategic challenge" to the United States. "I was there on the night of 9/11/2012." I was talking to everyone, and the military did not deny support. I was already there dealing with the attack on the US Embassy in Cairo. Everyone has been talking about things ever since, and when people stopped talking and finished writing about the talking, I told people to start writing some more about making changes. "The Arab revolutions have shattered" the stability of the Middle East. We're working with the Algerians to prevent this from happening again. I talked to a bunch of Arab leaders after the 9/11/2012 attacks. Then I talked to them some more. "We cannot afford to retreat now."
"It is our responsibility to make sure they have the resources they need." The State Department has 70,000 people working in 275 locations around the world.
29:34 Menendez: 5 minutes per Senator to discuss Benghazi. Menendez goes first. Why was the location chosen.
31:03 Hillary: There were attacks in the parking lot of the Hotel where they previously were, as well as many other locations. There were ongoing efforts to find the best place. "There were inadequacies in the response." "During most of the day, prior to getting notification on the attack in Benghazi, I was focused on the attack on our Embassy in Cairo" "I was notified of the attack shortly after 4pm." I immediately started talking to people. I ordered people to get the Libyan government to do something. I talked to Petraeus since he had people in the same area. We were going over every possible option and talking to everybody that we could talk to. It was constant talking and I talked to Obama later in the evening. While we were trying to understand we were faced with protests all over the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
37:03 Corker: "There were systemic deficiencies and I know you know that." "No one has been held accountable." "Could you mention one reform" that could have made it known to you that there were problems there.
38:14 Clinton: "I didn't see the requests."
Corker: "They did come into folks. Someone did turn them down."
Clinton: We're on the path to fix it. We want to re-allocate funds. We need more money for construction and for Marines. "Noone wants to sit where I am."
Corker: "None of the ARB's have been fully implemented."
Clinton: "The vast majority have been implemented."
Corker: "We were woefully unprepared for what happened in North Africa." Benghazi symbolizes that.
Clinton: 4 years ago, "no one" thought that Mubarrak, Qaddaffi, and others would be gone. None of us predicted this. "This is a serious threat to our country." "They don't have any real experience in running countries." "We face a serious jihadist threat."
48:15 Clinton: Let me start with the budget. I need more money. Congress isn't giving me enough. We prioritized money out of the security accounts. We are asking for more Marines and more money in the accounts, and more staff. We've asked from money budgeted for other departments. Mali terrorists were previously in Libya, until Qaddaffi was overthrown. They took weapons from Libya and established bases in Mali. We're trying to make the West Africans fight in Mali. We're trying to support the French fighting in Mali. This is not only a terrorist syndicate (AQIM) but a criminal enterprise. We need to give these Arab Revolutions a chance to succeed.
54:10 SEN Jim Risch (R-UT): Reports indicate a number of the attackers in Algeria were involved in the attack in Benghazi.
Clinton: I cannot confirm that, but the source is the Algerian govt related to certain of the terrorists that they took alive.
Risch: Can you confirm that the ONLY person arrested in the Benghazi attack has been released and was involved in both attacks. Can you confirm that he was involved in the Algerian attack?
Clinton: You're talking about the Tunisian. They've released him and we can't confirm anything. We're talking to the Tunisians about it. We can confirm that he is under the monitoring of a Tunisian Court.
Risch: You stated on Wednesday, the morning after, that "heavily armed militants attacked" our compound. What was your proof?
Clinton: "Well, we had 4 dead Americans." We had several injured people, one of which is still in Walter Reed.
Risch: Did you select Ambassador Rice to go on the morning talk shows the following Sunday? Why was the message different? The American people are entitled to know the truth.
Clinton: "No, I did not" select her. "I personally wasn't focused on talking points." "The picture remains unclear." "I recommend that all members read the classified ARB." It makes clear the attacks were deliberate and well-co-ordinated. Of course, I can't speak to it.
I have a very serious threat environment in Yemen. I was pretty occupied with attacks and threats in Cairo, Tunisia, and elsewhere. I had to beg the Tunisian government to do something there.
1:00:10 SEN Ben Cardin (D-MD): "Benghazi was a tragedy." "I want to follow-up on ... Northern Africa." "Weapons have gotten from Libya into Algeria." "There are a lot of weapons in Syria." What are we doing to ensure the weapons don't harm Americans or our interests.
Clinton: One of the reasons our people were in Benghazi was exactly that. Libyan weapons have ended up all over the region, including Algeria, Mali, and Syria. It is a red line for this Administration, the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Syria has a large stockpile of WMD. This pandora's box of weapons coming out of the revolutions. We need to bring to pay more attention to AfriCom. We're going to see more and more demands on AfriCom
1:05: SEN Marco Rubio (R-FL): "Were you ever asked to participate.. in regards to the deteriorating situation in Libya."
Clinton: With regards to the specifics, I had no knowledge. With regards to Libya, I was. I went to Libya and sent a number of teams there. It was a difficult conversation.
Rubio: With regards to the October meeting, did this come up?
Clinton: We talked about the deteriorating security situation. The Libyans were not in a position to secure our embassies. The militias had proven to be responsive. We were relying on them.
Rubio: March of 2012, that meeting was in regard to their responsibilities to provide security.
Clinton: What I found with the Libyans was that they had willingness but not capacity. With the Tunisians, they had capacity but not willingess. With Cairo, we had to order them.
1:10:55 SEN Bob Casey (D-PA): We don't have time to list all of your achievements. You said that fully 85% of recommendations are on track to be completed by March, of the recommendations of the ARB.
1:13:18 Clinton: Thank you for your very clear focus on the IED problem. We need your help to hold us accountable and that will help to clear up misconceptions and driving the change. An authorization process will help. It needs to be like the oversight of the DoD, and the Quadrennial Defense Review, training needs, budget needs, etc. We need $1.4 Billion transferred from DoD for Marines. More Diplomatic Security Guards, more construction. We need money budgeted for other agencies.
1:17:17 SEN Ron Johnson (R-WI): "Were you fully aware in real time" of the 20 incidents reported in the ARB?
Clinton: I was aware of the ones that were brought to my attention and very conscious of them. They were part of the deteriorating security situation in Libya.
Johnson: Did you see personally the request for more security on 20 August?
Clinton: "No Sir"
Johnson: When you read the ARB, it makes clear that the attack started at 9:40 PM local time. How many people were evacuated?
Clinton approximately 20-30.
Johnson: Did anyone from the State Dept talk to those people shortly after?
Clinton: there were discussions going on early on, but the FBI talked to them.
Johnson: I'm talking about Amb Rice going on the Sunday talk shows. A simple phone call would have ascertained that it was an assault. (related video clip)
Clinton: I did not see anything that contradicted the talking points before the Sunday talk shows. We didn't think it was appropriate to talk them before the FBI.
Johnson: Do you disagree with me that a simple phone call would have ascertained that this was no protest?
Clinton: We have no doubt that they were terrorists.
Johnson: We were led to believe that this sprang from a protest.
Clinton: "What difference does it make" if it it were " a protest or men just out for a walk that said let's go kill some Americans?" (The well known clip of the testimony.)
01:23:32 SEN Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH): I want to praise you, like everyone else is doing, and thank you for initiating the investigation. That's the kind of leadership we want to see. I want to talk about the funding you want transferred from other agencies. Is that money on hold?
Clinton: That money was put in the money on "Sandy" in the last Congress, and the house didn't pass it. [WOTN: Benghazi and the State Department have nothing to do with storm relief in New York, or the "Sandy" storm.]
Shaheen: We need to move on this immediately. Can you talk about making the Benghazi coordination between State and DoD the standard?
Clinton: It was exemplary. We had a very good inter-agency response. I think it's a challenge to find what we can do better. As we saw in Iraq, when the military left, it put a large burden on our civilians there. The challenge is similiar in Afghanistan. There simply was not enough time for the military to respond.
01:30 SEN Jeff Flake (R-AZ): Since you did not select AMB Rice, were you consulted?
Flake: Can you enlighten us to conversations at the State Dept regarding what she said? What she said was clearly different from what was known.
Clinton: I can't speak to conversations I specifically had. We did not conclude that there were no protests until the days after the attack. (various excuses for why she won't condemn the Rice interviews) "Just withhold. Don't say what you don't know." "We all wish that no one had raised doubts." Rice raised the most acceptable talking points.
If you want to fault the Administration, it is that we didn't communicate that we didn't have a clear picture.
Flake: There were protocols in place before this and there were tripwires that were tripped, and those protocols were not followed.
Clinton: We were clear eyed about the threats and dangers but there was no decision made to close Benghazi. We have at least 20 other posts that are under a dangerous enviornment. We are constantly assessing. This is one of those times that there was an assessment that was shared by the Ambassador, shared by others, that turned out to not take into account the attack taking place that night.
01:36:02 SEN Coons (D-DE): The ARB found that security was grossly inadequate in Benghazi. This simply cannot happen again. As chairman of the African subcommittee.. I have chaired a hearing on Mali. Talk about AQIM, Mali, Algeria.
Clinton: There will be a continuing set of challenges in Africa. Boko Haram in Algeria, other unrest in the West Coast of Africa, but a success story in Somalia. It took time, and money with the Djiboutis, Kenyans, Ugandas. We must realize we are in for a long term struggle here. We're looking at Troops coming in from other African countries. They're not ready.
Coons: We look forward to continued success.
01:42:40: SEN John McCain (R-AZ): "It's good to see you in good health and as combative as ever." There are a number of questions that are unanswered and frankly the answers you've given are unacceptable." Where you and the President aware of the cables that said that the Benghazi consulate could not resist a sustained attack? When were you aware of that cable? It took a CNN journalist going to the consulate to find AMB Stevens diary. When were you aware of the attack on the Brits? of the closing of the British Consulate. What was the President's actions during those 7 hours. I categorically reject your answer to SEN Johnson for why you didn't talk to the survivors that were flown to Germany the next day. Why is it that the Administration still refuses to include references to Al-Qaeda, as the classified ARB suggests. If you want to talk about it, you should at least talk to the people that were there. And the President continued to not acknowledge, as late as 24 September that this was an act of terror.
When I was in Libya in July, AMB Stevens expressed concerns about security. He continued to communicate with the State Dept about security in Benghazi. The term "soft footprint" was partially to blame.
Clinton: I understand your very strong concerns. We have a disagreement with what did happen and explaining it. We got to talk with the DS agents after they returned, after 9/14. We have to get our act together between Congress and the Administration. I hope we can have the kind of discussion where we can agree on things. I hope we are looking forward. Libya is still dangerous.
01:50:40 SEN Dick Durbin (D-IL): You have had a profound impact on the world. Ambassador Rice is awesome. "Iraqi weapons of mass destruction." We are still searching for those weapons. We can have a hearing on that if you like. We can fix this with money. You want money from other agencies. I'd like you to comment on how we can be a leader in diplomacy to prevent war.
Clinton: I'm aware of deficiencies in the Department. I've tried to change the culture. We were never going to reach parity with the Defense Department. We need the help of this committee. We have to deal with our own economy and fiscal situation.
01:56.33 SEN John Barrasso (R-WY): We agree that we make sure something like this never happens again. We should have seen it coming. Biden said noone told us. The Brits pulled out, the Red Cross pulled out, there was a previous attack, and yet there was no evacuation plan. The American people heard that there was a significant, substantial security presence. Do you believe that.
Clinton: We had A security presence. There were previous attacks. What we have accepted is that there was discussion about how much we needed. We can get mired in the back and forth, but I believe we shouldn't worry about what happened but only talk about the future.
Barrasso: The President said he would bring justice to the attackers on Benghazi. Were the Algerian attackers part of the Benghazi attack, or just emboldened by it.
Clinton: The FBI is trying to determine how to respond. No one should doubt the President.
Barrasso: The President has also said that Al-Qaeda has been decimated. In light of the recent attacks, would you agree with that?
Clinton: Well, the core Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan has, but many have migrated and are using other names like AQIM. We have to contend with the wannabes and affiliates.
2:03:02 SEN Tom Udall (D-NM): Your mere presence in a country makes a difference. Cookstoves have made a difference. It has been a part of the very thoughtful policy you have put forth. I fully support that we should re-program this $1.4 Billion. Is it 20 high risk posts around the world.
Clinton: I would like to give you that in a classified setting. I don't think it's wise to tell you where the problems are in this environment. We are in Pakistan, in Yemen. We rely on our security professionals to implement procedures. There are many assassinations and attacks averted, daily.
Udall: Does it make sense that we consolidate those high risk posts with more secure posts.
Clinton: That is done in the vast majority of cases, but we are taking a look at that.
02:08:29 SEN Paul Rand (R-KY): It is a failure of leadership that nothing was done before hand. Had I been President at the time, and I found that you had not read the cables, I would have relieved. I can understand that you didn't read every cable, like the request by the Vienna Embassy for upgrades, but to not know of the requests of additional security in Benghazi. I don't suspect your motives, but it was a failure of leadership to not be involved. My question is: Is the US involved in the transfer of weapons from Libya to Turkey.
Clinton: I'll have to take that under advisement. I don't know.
Rand: There are media reports that there were weapons being transferred.
Clinton: Unsatisfactory leadership is not grounds for termination, as per federal law.
Rand: They should never have been sent there without military guard. I don't think the State Dept has the capacity to defend themselves.
Clinton: The ARB made very clear that responsibilty lies at the Assistant Secretary and below. I AM the Secretary. I believe in transparency and taking responsibility.
02:14:50 SEN Chris Murphy (D-CT): The War in Iraq was fought under false pretenses. What are our goals in North Africa? We didn't have a full understanding of the intentions of the various jihadists there.
Clinton: You're going to make an excellent member of this committee. We are in a new reality. I can't do justice to the really important issues you have highlighted. We don't know what will happen in this new revolutionary environment. Let's learn from what worked in the past. I've pulled writings from commentators that reached the same conclusions. Helping to rebuild security is key. We did it in Colombia. Let's be honest. I think this committee can play a key role. Like we did in the Cold War. We've gotten off track.
02:20:06 :SEN Tim Kaine: Why wasn't the Benghazi mission declared to the Libyan govt?
Clinton: The US notified to the Libyan govt the specific names of those serving in the Tripoli and Benghazi missions. Not notifying them of the locations had no effect on responsibilities of the Libyans to secure it. We contracted civilians to protect the consulate. Designating it as temporary caused an extra level of uncertainty. There is a culture of husbanding resources.
Kaine: How common is it to rely on local security.
Clinton: Very common. We employ private security in Kabul and Baghdad. Many countries have put very stringent requirements on private security. The Libyan government approved the Blue Mountain security guards. Marines protect classified material, not people. There was no classified material in Benghazi.
02:25:26 Menendez: Conclusion: There are several takeaways from your testimony. We have to look at everything, rather than the specific threats. We have to find the resources to protect our diplomats. We have to transfer that money you want from other agencies. What we know and what we don't know is incredibly important. Benghazi was a tragedy. Iraq was truly a tragedy.
02:29:12 Corker: Conclusion: This committee will be useful in looking at this in a longer term. It would help for us to set long term goals. We KNOW that Al-Qaeda is a long term threat.
[Again, this is designed to be used as a reference to find the specific parts of the testimony that the reader is interested in. It is not a full or necessarily exact transcript. It includes paraphrases that capture my take on her political speech, as well as quotes. It does not have every pertinent word or phrase.
Clinton clearly states that AQ is still a threat, that the threat in Benghazi was known, and that Rice was using politically (Admin) approved talking points, while she (Clinton) called it a terrorist attack immediately because she wasn't following the talking points. For numerous reasons, Clinton should have been on the phone with the survivors, as soon as possible, including genuine concern for their well-being, and getting information from the horse's mouth on what happened to the people working for her.]