Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will testify before Congress about an official investigation into an attack in September that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, the House Foreign Affairs Committee announced Thursday.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who chairs the committee, said at a hearing on the Benghazi attack that Clinton “has committed to testifying before our committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee” on a report by the Accountability Review Board, a five-member panel formed to investigate the attack and make recommendations. Ros-Lehtinen did not specify when Clinton would testify but noted that the board is expected to finish its report by “early to mid-December.”
The Sept. 11 assault by armed militants on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi and a nearby annex used by CIA personnel claimed the lives of J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans: Information Management Officer Sean Smith and security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Stevens was visiting from his post in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, at the time. Doherty and Woods were former Navy SEALs.
The Benghazi attack has become the subject of intense controversy because of conflicting accounts of how it originated and charges that the U.S. government should have heeded warnings to strengthen security at its posts in the eastern Libyan city.
Prominent Republican senators called Wednesday for the establishment of a temporary joint select congressional committee to investigate the attack and condemned Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, for initial statements about it that they said were inaccurate and misleading.
The comments by Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) drew a sharp rebuke from President Obama, who told a news conference Wednesday that “they should go after me” instead of trying to “besmirch” Rice’s reputation.
“We are committed to identifying what went wrong and what needs to be done to prevent any further American lives from being lost in such attacks,” Ros-Lehtinen said at her committee’s hearing on the Benghazi attack Thursday morning.
“The coordinated preplanned and brazen attacks against the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on September 11 was an outrage,” she said in an opening statement. “Also disgraceful is the sad parade of conflicting accounts of the attack that we have received from administration officials in the weeks and months since.”
She charged that the Obama administration ignored warnings of “the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi” and “denied repeated requests for additional security measures” at the U.S. outposts.