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US forms panel to investigate Benghazi consulate attack

September 21, 2012 12:26 IST

The US has formed a panel to investigate the attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other American officials.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday announced to form the panel headed by a former top diplomat.

"I am launching an accountability review board that will be chaired by Ambassador Thomas Pickering," Clinton said before heading to Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers on the attack, which occurred on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Clinton along with top officials defence and intelligence officials briefed Congressmen and responded to their concerns and curiosities on the Benghazi attack.

Before the meeting, Clinton said the US officials would also talk about the importance of the broader relationships with these countries in light of the events of the past days.

"There are obviously very real challenges in these new democracies, these fragile societies, but as I said last week, the vast majority of the people in these countries did not throw off the tyranny of a dictator to trade it for the tyranny of a mob," she said.

"We are concerned first and foremost with our own people and facilities, but we are concerned about the internal security in these countries because ultimately, that puts at risk the men, women, and children of these societies on a daily ongoing basis if actions are not taken to try to restore security and civil order," Clinton said.

After the meeting Republican lawmakers expressed their dissatisfaction over the classified briefing and response they received from Clinton.

"The point is that they still are blaming the video, and they have a fundamental misunderstanding," Senator John McCain told reporters after the briefing.

"They believe it was the video. It's not the video. It's the Islamists who are pushing this video throughout the Internet, throughout the world to inflame passions on the part of people of the Muslim faith so that they can spark not only these demonstrations, but eventually take over these countries.

"So to blame it on the video is a fundamental misunderstanding of what's happening," McCain said.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio said it's clear that this was a coordinated effort by radical Islamist terrorists to strike at US interests in the consulate in Benghazi.

Image: A protester reacts as the US consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames
Photographs: Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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