Clinton: I ‘was not focused on talking points’ in Benghazi aftermath

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took responsibility for the security failures on the attacks on Benghazi on Wednesday, but said that she was not involved in the confusing dissemination of information in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

Clinton testified Wednesday morning before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the September 11 attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi that left Amb. Chris Stevens and three others dead.

“As I have said many times, I take responsibility,” she said, saying that she was committed to implementing changes that would prevent a future attack from happening.

“I feel responsible for the almost 70,000 people who work for the State Department,” she said later.

But that didn’t stop questions surrounding the information initially disseminated about the motives of the attack, which U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice blamed on protests over an anti-Muslim film when she appeared on the Sunday shows the next week.

Rice drew sharp condemnation for portraying the attack as anything other than terrorism and withdrew her name from consideration to be Secretary of State when it became clear that a confirmation by the Senate would be a heavy lift.

Clinton said she was not the person who selected Rice to be the public face, nor was she involved in putting together the talking points on which Rice relied that day.

“I personally was not focused on talking points, I was focused on keeping our people safe,” Clinton said.

“I don’t think anyone in the administration was really focused on that so much as trying to figure out what we should be doing,” she added.

She said that her understanding was that the process by which the talking points were prepared followed the “typical interagency process,” and she said that the intelligence community was working to clarify that process.

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