The Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify at an open hearing next week about the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
While the State Department responded that Clinton will be traveling abroad next week, the invitation to the Nov. 15 hearing signaled a post-election renewal of a politically charged debate over the attack resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Other State Department officials plan to provide closed-door briefings for lawmakers, including a session with the Senate intelligence committee on Nov. 15, department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters today.
At a House hearing before the Nov. 6 elections, Republicans said President Barack Obama’s administration failed to provide adequate diplomatic security before the Benghazi attack and sought to play down the role of terrorists afterward. Democrats defended the administration’s performance and said Republicans were seeking to exploit the attack for political gain.
Clinton is scheduled to travel next week to Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Burma and Cambodia.
Nuland said Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy and Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell will provide classified briefings next week to the Senate intelligence panel as well as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Republican chairmen and top Democrats of House committees.
Clinton reaffirmed yesterday her pledge to improve security at U.S. embassies and consulates, as a panel she appointed reviews security decisions made before the Libya attack.
“We now have a formal Accountability Review Board investigating the terrorist attack that killed Chris, and we will certainly apply its recommendations and lessons learned to improving security everywhere,” Clinton said during a tribute to Stevens at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington.
Clinton has responded to questions about what may have gone wrong in Libya by saying the answers will come from the board, which is headed by veteran U.S. diplomat Thomas Pickering.
“The independent Accountability Review Board is already hard at work looking at everything --- not cherry-picking one story here or one document there -- but looking at everything, which I highly recommend as the appropriate approach to something as complex as an attack like this,” Clinton told reporters on Oct. 24.