Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that she would cooperate with Congress in its investigation of the terrorist attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
In a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Clinton asked members of Congress to withhold any final conclusions involving the attack, saying the State Department’s Accountability Review Board was starting its investigation this week.
“I appreciate that you and your committee are deeply interested in finding out what happened leading up to and during the attacks in Benghazi, and are looking for ways to prevent it from happening again. I share that commitment,” Clinton said in the letter, which was obtained by Foreign Policy. “Nobody will hold this department more accountable than we hold ourselves – we served with Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods.”
The results of the State Department’s investigation could come later this year or early next year, FP reports.
Clinton’s letter was in response to a letter from Issa on Monday, in which he cited recent reports that suggest the consulate in Benghazi was not properly protected, having been attacked twice before this latest attack on Sept. 11 of this year.
“It was clearly never, as Administration officials once insisted, the result of a popular protest,” Issa wrote, according to The Daily Beast. “In addition, multiple U.S. federal government officials have confirmed to the committee that prior to the Sept. 11 attack, the U.S. mission in Libya made repeated requests for addition security in Benghazi. The mission in Libya, however, was denied these resources by officials in Washington.”
This comes as reports suggest that the U.S. government was aware that the attack was the work of terrorists, well before officials initially said so. Reuters reports that President Obama received several intelligence reports hours after the attack indicating that militants connected to al-Qaida were involved.
Republicans have criticized the Obama administration for misleading the public on actual roots of the attack. Initially, officials said the attack was a spontaneous outburst from protests surrounding an anti-Islamic film. Later, the White House admitted it was a terrorist attack that had been pre-planned.
“What we’re seeing now is the picture starting to develop that it wasn't a problem with the intelligence that was given, it’s what they did with the intelligence that they were given,” Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told Reuters on Tuesday.
The White House, however, said it has disclosed information involving the attack as it received it. “At every step of the way, the administration has based its public statements on the best assessments that were provided by the intelligence community. As the intelligence community learned more information, they updated Congress and the American people on it,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
Lawmakers said they plan on holding a hearing in their investigation Oct. 10, Reuters reports.