State Dept: Security at Libya consulate adequate
Utah commander also offering testimony
In statements immediately after the attack, neither President Barack Obama nor Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton mentioned terrorism. And both gave credence to the notion that the attack was related to protests about an anti-Islam video.
"Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet," Clinton said on the night of the attack. "The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind."
The hearing opened with a blunt partisan exchange between the committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland who accused Republican members of withholding documents and witnesses and keeping Democrats out of the loop on a fact-finding trip to Libya last week.
Issa denied any wrongdoing.
Republican committee members sought to take the witnesses to task for a shifting explanation of what happened in Benghazi
The committee hearing followed assertions late Tuesday by the State Department that it never concluded that the Sept. 11 attack stemmed from protests over a privately made video ridiculing Islam. That had been the initial explanation offered by some in the administration, including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, before officials said it had been a planned terrorist attack.
Some Republicans have focused on the shift, suggesting that the administration was trying to cover up that it was unprepared for the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In Wednesday's hearing, Kennedy said officials, including Rice, relied on the assessments of intelligence officials in offering public explanations for the attack.
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