2 January 2013

Libya: U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing: Libya


Excerpts from the United States Department of State daily press briefing:

QUESTION: Benghazi.

MS. NULAND: Benghazi. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. Just if you had an update on hearings on the Hill. I know this is difficult when you're not quite sure about the prognosis or a schedule for the Secretary, but do you have any idea at all at this point about whether she would be able to testify?

MS. NULAND: She has said that she is open to going up to the Hill. We are working with them now on their schedule, because there's also a question of when they are going to be in, and we'll let you know when we have something to share.

QUESTION: Sorry. The decision to evacuate - is that part of - does it have anything to do or part of a policy of being more security conscious post-Benghazi?

MS. NULAND: I think we always look at these on a case-by-case basis. And the concern, I think, simply was that the rebel advance had gotten closer to the capital and that it wasn't clear whether it could be stopped by CAR forces. So this was a decision taken with an abundance of caution. But I would note that most of the Western embassies and the UN also have suspended operations in Bangui. I think only the French are still operating, and they did so after reinforcing with many hundreds of troops.

QUESTION: Sorry, just staying on Benghazi, I wondered if there was any State Department reaction to the report that came out from Senate - from the Senate committee on Monday, in which they mention that they found that the State Department made a grievous mistake in keeping the mission in Benghazi open despite the deteriorating security conditions that were happening in the city.

MS. NULAND: Well as you know, Jo, we had our two deputies testify extensively on the 20th of December with regard to the Accountability Review Board report and our analysis of it. And they were very explicit about the mistakes that were made, the accountability that needs to be taken, and the steps that we have to take to implement all of the recommendations of the Accountability Review Board. So we are looking hard at that and we are working on it. As you know, the Secretary accepted all 29 of those recommendations. We've set up now a very broad process inside the building to ensure that we implement all of those recommendations. It's under the leadership of Deputy Secretary Nides. He's already had one implementation meeting before the holiday and we expect another one this week sometime to make sure that we really can learn the lessons and improve our procedures.

QUESTION: But would you accept the finding from the committee that it was a mistake to keep the Benghazi facility open?

MS. NULAND: Again, I'm not going to go beyond the comments that we made on the 20th, which were extremely extensive with regard to the things that went wrong.

QUESTION: And do you have an update for us on the three members of staff who were put on administrative leave? Is that still - well, there was four. One person resigned. And --

QUESTION: He resigned his - as we were subsequently told, he resigned his Presidential appointment as Assistant Secretary, but he didn't resign from the State Department, unless I'm mistaken.

MS. NULAND: That's correct.

QUESTION: So - but it's a great question. I mean, are they - is there any change in their status?

MS. NULAND: I don't have anything to report to you today. If there is anything - any change, I'll let you know.

QUESTION: Related to Libya, do you have any comment on the resignation of Ali Aujali as the Minister of Foreign Affairs designate?

MS. NULAND: I actually - I'm going to admit to you that I missed that, Said. I will take it and I'll get back to you.

Yeah. Please.

QUESTION: Are you concerned the same incident in Benghazi would happen again in Yemen? As you've said, the State Department is now taking the threat to the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen seriously. Are you increasing the security?

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