State Dept. Defends Itself on Benghazi Attack in Senate Hearings

State will try to mitigate criticisms about being unprepared for foreseeable attacks and about lying to the public

by John Glaser, October 10, 2012

The State Department will testify in Senate hearings on Wednesday about the September attack on the US consulate in Banghazi, Libya, and try to mitigate criticisms that they ignored warning signs of an impending attack and that they misrepresented the nature of the attack.

Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary of State for Management

The State Department and the Obama administration has come under harsh scrutiny in recent weeks as reports have come out that although they received warnings from the US diplomatic mission in Libya that a possible attack by al-Qaeda-linked groups was imminent, they did not respond to requests for increased security at embassies and consulates.

Additionally, they have faced charges that the nature of the attack – was misrepresented initially. The attack, which was pre-planed and perpetrated by armed groups with links to terrorist organizations, was initially described as a spontaneous protest, in line with others happening around the same time at other US diplomatic buildings over an offensive video mocking the Prophet Mohammed.

“No one in the Administration has claimed to know all the answers,” Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy will testify at the House Oversight Committee’s hearing Wednesday chaired by Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA), according The Cable, which obtained a copy of the statement. “We have always made clear that we are giving the best information we have at the time. And that information has evolved.”

“Kennedy will defend U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice,” writes Josh Rogin at The Cable, “who said Sunday after the attack that, based on the best information at the time, it appeared to be a spontaneous and opportunistic assault by those taking advantage of protests about an anti-Islam video. On Tuesday, the State Department confirmed that there was no protest, but Kennedy sought to absolve Rice of responsibility for the mistaken comments.”

“While I’d love to have had a large secured building and tons of security personnel in Benghazi, the fact is that the system we had in place was regularly tested and appeared to work as planned despite high turnover of DS [Diplomatic Security] agents on the ground.”

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