Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton/AP
Many questions await Secretary of State Hillary
Rodham Clinton on Wednesday as she appears before Congress to explain
her response to a terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi,
Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other
The State Department for days blamed the Sept. 11
attack on a spontaneous protest to what it called a "reprehensible"
video that denigrated Islam's prophet, while CIA and diplomats from the
scene were reporting that no protest preceded the attack.
obvious question that Secretary Clinton would be asked is why, based on
the information she had, did she mislead and misdirect people for so
long," says Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah who chairs one
of several committees investigating the incident.
"She made and
approved statements that were misleading. She repeatedly talked about
the video, which ... was not the reason for the attack."
Independent Accountability Review Board appointed by the State
Department concluded that "systemic failures" left the consulate in
Benghazi inadequately protected and confirmed that no protest preceded
the deadly attack. In a report released in December, the board
recommended that the State Department strengthen security in high-risk
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said at the time
the department reacted to the attack by taking immediate steps to
protect personnel and postings in embassies and consulates facing large
protests around the world.
The department also "intensified a
diplomatic campaign aimed at combating the threat of terrorism across
North Africa," Burns said. "We continue to work to bring to justice the
terrorists responsible for the attacks in Benghazi. And we are working
with our partners to close safe havens, cut off terrorist finances,
counter extremist ideology and slow the flow of new recruits."
ordered the Accountability Review Board to find out what happened,
Burns said. "We learned some very hard and painful lessons in Benghazi.
We are already acting on them. We have to do better."
Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said the report
exposed "the massive failure of the State Department at all levels,
including senior leadership, to take action to protect our government
Chaffetz said questions for Clinton will begin
with security failures that started well before the attack occurred at
9:40 p.m. Sept. 11, then focus heavily on the night of the attack and on
State's response afterward.
She has never faced questioning on this before, even by the independent review board, Chaffetz said.
part most mysterious, the least number of questions answered, is her
personal involvement during the 26 hours from start to finish, when
those injured were brought to Germany," he said.
are likely to start with questions about Clinton's involvement and
response to requests for increased security by Stevens and his security
chief after the consulate was bombed June 6, Chaffetz said. Those
requests were denied.
"If the secretary was not involved in that,
why, how can that be?" Chaffetz asked. "How many consulates are bombed,
and that one was bombed twice at that point."
When Clinton ran
against President Obama four years ago, she ran a TV ad asking whether
he was ready for a 3 a.m. call that requires judgment and decisive
"Well, that call came for both of them," Chaffetz said.
"The ambassador was missing for seven hours. What was her interaction
with the president? Did she go to bed?"