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PHOTOS: Hillary's angry outburst at Benghazi grilling

Last updated on: January 24, 2013 01:07 IST

Hillary's angry outburst at Benghazi grilling

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An emotional Hillary Clinton took personal responsibility for the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed her Ambassador to Libya, as she answered questions from lawmakers during her much-awaited Congressional testimony over the September 11 incident.

In her last congressional hearing before she steps down as Secretary of State on Wednesday, Clinton said the State Department was working quickly to strengthen security at US missions worldwide as she defended the Obama administrations against allegations of a cover up.

"For me, this is not just a matter of policy, it's personal," Clinton said in her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the terrorist attack at the US Consulate in Benghazi that killed three American nationals including the US Ambassador.

"I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag draped caskets off the plan at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters and the wives left alone to raise their children," an emotional Clinton told lawmakers.

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Image: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pounds her fists as she responds to intense questioning on the September attacks on US diplomatic sites in Benghazi, Libya, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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Hillary's angry outburst at Benghazi grilling

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Responding to questions from lawmakers, the Secretary of State, took responsibility of the Benghazi attack.

"I reiterate my taking responsibility. And, as I have already said, with specific security requests they didn't come to me. I had no knowledge of them," she said.

"With regard to the situation in Libya, not just eastern Libya, across Libya, there were a number of conversations and meetings to try to see what we could do while Libya went through this transition from transitional government to interim government to elections, to try to get in there and help them with security, because it was clear that that was going to be one of their highest needs, once they finally got stabilised," she said.

Chairing the meeting, Senator Robert Menendez said Benghazi was a reminder of the inherent risks that come with diplomatic engagement in regions that are struggling to build new governments from what has often been a chaotic situation.

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Image: Hillary Clinton responds forcefully to intense questioning
Photographs: Jason Reed/Reuters

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Hillary's angry outburst at Benghazi grilling

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Badgered by Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson about her handling of the attack in Benghazi, Libya, Clinton suddenly lost her patience and found her temper.

"With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans," Clinton said. "Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and to do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator."

"The two hardest calls that I made were obviously to the families of Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith. And it, you know, they, I have to say were extraordinary in their responses and their understanding of the pride we had in both men and gratitude we had for their service," she said.

"It has been one of the great honours of my life to lead the men and women of the State Department and USAID. Nearly 70,000 serving here in Washington, more than 270 posts around the world," she said.

"Today, after four years in this job, travelling nearly a million miles, visiting 112 countries, my faith in our country and our future is stronger than ever," Clinton told lawmakers.

The Congressional testimony of Clinton on Benghazi was initially scheduled to be held in December, but had to be postponed due to her month-long illness during which she was briefly hospitalised due to blood clot in her head.

Clinton leaves the State Department after serving four years at its helm.

 


Image: Clinton pounds on her table while testifying
Photographs: Jason Reed/Reuters

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