22 January 2013

Libya: U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing: Secretary Clinton Testimony Before U.S. Lawmakers On Benghazi

The Senate Intelligence Committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attack says that day was "likely preventable" ( Resource: New Benghazi Revelations In Senate Report

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Washington, DC — Excerpt from the United States Department of State daily press briefing:

QUESTION: Could I change the subject --

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- to Benghazi? Secretary will be testifying tomorrow, both with the Senate and the House.

MS. NULAND: Correct.

QUESTION: Can you tell us - many people, a number of people on the Hill say that there are still questions. One person I spoke with, a senator, said that he believed that there were not - that all of the documents have not been released. They believe there are emails and texts that still have to be released.

Just on that immediate point, have all of the documents that they have requested been released? What - do you know what he's talking about?

MS. NULAND: I haven't seen those comments from that member. Tomorrow, both on the Senate side and on the House side, members of Congress will have a chance to hear what the Secretary has to say, but also to ask her any remaining questions that they have on this matter. I think she will focus not only on the ARB report, but on all the work that the Department has done already to implement the ARB report and give a status on that and an update on the work that remains. You will recall that she pledged not only to accept all 29 of the recommendations, but to have the implementation of those recommendations well underway before her successor took over. So I think she'll want to give a status on that.

With regard to documents, as you know, Jill, since this initially happened, we have been responding on a regular basis to document requests from members of Congress, making those documents available to members and staff. I can't speak to what this particular member may be looking for.

QUESTION: And how would you say - over the past week or two since she's gotten better, how has she been preparing for Benghazi?

MS. NULAND: Well, she's obviously been receiving briefings on the implementation work underway. She's been overseeing that work. She's been pushing it along. She has to obviously prepare statements for both testimonies tomorrow, and she's had a chance to talk to a lot of the people in the Department who've been working - who are working on this during the time that she was out, get caught up, and push it forward herself.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. NULAND: Can I go to Jennifer?

QUESTION: Sure, sure.

QUESTION: Thank you. Congressman Jason Chaffetz has said that he hasn't - that he has requested many times to interview some of the survivors and that the State Department has not allowed him to do so, has kept some of the survivors from talking to members of Congress. And then there are some of the survivors themselves who said that they - including members of the Diplomatic Security Service who were present that night, who say that they weren't interviewed by Admiral Mullen and Thomas Pickering as part of the ARB report. Do you have any comment about that?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, members of Congress, including these members, will have a chance to raise issues of concern when they see the Secretary tomorrow. I don't want to do the hearing in advance of doing the hearing here. But clearly, as evidenced by the folks who were up on the Hill from Diplomatic Security in those initial hearings way back when in October, some members of Diplomatic Security were made available. I really can't speak to the scope of it from here today.

Please.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Why did - you have often noted that Secretary Clinton took responsibility, and she did so, I believe, some weeks after the event itself. Why did she not come out immediately, or within a day or two or five, and say, "This was my responsibility"?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think if you go back and look at every single statement that she made, from the statement that very first night to the public statement that she made the day after, to her comments at the remains return ceremony for Ambassador Stevens and our other three fallen colleagues, there was no question at any point in those statements that she considered it her responsibility to learn the lessons from this and to take the Department forward in implementing whatever lessons were learned.

So, and then obviously, she said the words in a slightly crisper way a little bit forward, but from the perspective of all of us who have served under her, we have always considered that she took full responsibility.

QUESTION: Did she use - I don't believe she used the word "responsible" or "responsibility," though, did she?

MS. NULAND: I'm not in a position to parse every statement that she made.

QUESTION: Yeah, but you just cited all of her statements immediately afterwards, and you said if you read those, you will see that it's very clear that - and I'm just wondering, because words matter; words matter in this building. And it was, I think, a month - more than a month, in fact, I think it was October the 15th - it may be that she felt responsible and felt that her statements reflected that initially and throughout, as you suggested, before she actually seems to have said the words. But I don't recall her using those words in the initial statements or at any time prior to her interview with Elise.

MS. NULAND: Well, that is not to say that she didn't at every single stage feel enormously responsible. It was just a matter of the immediate issues that needed responding to, like condoling the families and everybody else.

Please.

QUESTION: Can you just provide us an update of how many people in the end were fired for any mistakes or based on their recommendations from the Benghazi report?

MS. NULAND: Again, I don't want to do all aspects of this testimony before we do the testimony, but just to remind that we had four - a total of four individuals put on administrative leave as a result of the implementation of the ARB recommendations, one of whom, Eric Boswell, who was Assistant Secretary of Diplomatic Security, who resigned from that position.

QUESTION: But they're all four still working for the State Department, right?

MS. NULAND: They are all on administrative leave from their positions in the State Department.

QUESTION: And there's --

QUESTION: But they - sorry, just to put it in simple English, they no longer are in those positions, but they still work in the building?

MS. NULAND: They are in administrative leave status. I don't have the sort of letter of each of their --

QUESTION: I don't know what that means. I've never been on administrative - I mean, what is that in simple English? They work here?

QUESTION: Does that mean that they're still getting paid, but they're not doing work?

MS. NULAND: I'm going to take it. I actually don't know what the precise details of it are.

Please.

QUESTION: Toria, is the testimony expected to be over and done with tomorrow, or is it likely to drag on? And how will that impact the confirmation hearing for Senator Kerry?

MS. NULAND: What the Secretary will do tomorrow is be available to Congress, first and foremost, to update them on the implementation of the ARB's recommendations, but also to answer any questions they have of her. Then, as she'll make clear tomorrow, all of the recommendations are currently being implemented, but there will be plenty of implementation work that needs to be carried forward by her successor.

QUESTION: I would imagine that the Secretary will also be asked about the state of the investigation by the FBI, and I can't imagine that she will send the senators to the FBI for their answers. So would you be able to let us know what she can - what she will be able to tell the congressmen and women about where we are with the investigation into catching anybody who might be responsible for this - for these events?

MS. NULAND: Again, I'm not in a position to preview what she'll have to say on that, but I'm sure one of the things that she will say is that the FBI is mandated under U.S. law to be the investigating agency. This Department is not the investigating agency. So I think she will obviously decline to speak about another agency's investigation, but we will leave it to her. I frankly haven't been privy to whatever coordination has been going on there.

QUESTION: And is the anticipation perhaps that with the hearings tomorrow, this may now draw a line under this incident, and that the Department can move on with the implementation of the recommendations that is going forward?

MS. NULAND: Well, I think I just answered that one in response to Said, that she will want to make clear the implementation that is set in train, the lessons that we are learning, but that implementation needs to be seen all the way through by her successor.

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