January 23, 2013
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton choked up today while testifying before Congress about the attack that left four Americans dead in Benghazi, Libya.
"I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews," Clinton said, her voice hoarse with emotion.
"I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters."
Clinton is the only witness testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She will appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee at 2 p.m.
The secretary, who postponed her testimony regarding the much-publicized tragedy in December due to illness, tried to give context to the terrorist attack.
"Any clear-eyed examination of this matter must begin with this sobering fact," she began, noting that 19 similar attacks have taken place since 1988.
More than four months have passed since the attack killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Libya - and left many pointing fingers.
The State Department relieved three employees of their posts and a fourth resigned because of "systemic failures and leadership deficiencies at senior levels."
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Clinton would tell Congress how the department has responded to the attack and those deficiencies.
Clinton is reviewing recommendations from the Accountability Review Board, getting status updates on their implementation, and talking to people in the department.
Clinton testified briefly before the Senate two weeks after the attack, an appearance that received criticism from conservatives in that little was revealed.
The matter was still under investigation at the time; allegations of a Benghazi cover up dogged President Obama for weeks after the Sept. 11, 2012 attack.
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