Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify Jan. 23 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about the Sept. 11 attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya, the panel’s chairman said late Monday. The terrorist assault claimed the lives of the U.S. ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans.
“I appreciate Secretary Clinton’s desire and willingness to testify before the Committee as we continue to examine this deadly terrorist attack in an effort to ensure that nothing like it happens again,” Republican Rep. Ed Royce of California said in a statement.
“My intention is for this hearing to focus on why this attack was not better anticipated, what leadership failures at the State Department existed, and what management deficiencies need to be corrected in order to better secure our diplomatic facilities abroad and protect our diplomats serving in them,” Royce said. “It is important to learn all we can about what happened in Benghazi because at the end of the day, it could happen again. After all, al-Qaeda plans attacks over and over again.”
Clinton had been slated to testify in December, but she suffered a concussion after a fall linked to an illness and had to reschedule. She is due to step down as the top American diplomat, and President Barack Obama has nominated Democratic Sen. John Kerry to succeed her. He is expected to win easy confirmation by the Senate.
Republicans have criticized the Obama administration’s handling of the attack for months, notably in the aftermath of a report that showed the State Department set aside requests for greater security at the compound in Benghazi. Some have also accused the administration of deliberately misleading the American public by linking the assault to protests against an Internet video that mocks Islam; there was no such demonstration outside the facility before the attack.
The controversy led Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, to withdraw her name from consideration to succeed Clinton. And Republican Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte have vowed to question Obama’s nominees for key national security posts about whether the administration could have prevented the tragedy in Benghazi.