Republican lawmakers said over the weekend that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton eventually will have to testify before Congress about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, despite her having canceled an appearance this week owing to ill health.
The timing of the medical announcement, which followed two days last week during which officials appeared to waffle about whether Mrs. Clinton would testify as scheduled, prompted some Republicans to question privately whether her health was a convenient excuse to avoid tough questions about the attack, according to a congressional staffer.
She had skipped an overseas trip the previous week because of a stomach virus, the State Department said Saturday.
But the statement gave no details about the timing of the fall, leading Republicans to speculate it might have happened as early as last Monday.
In public, Republican critics were clear they expect to hear from Mrs. Clinton personally in due course.
Answering tough questions about the attack “requires a public appearance by the secretary of state herself,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican and chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Deputy Secretaries of State William J. Burns and Thomas R. Nides will testify to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Mrs. Clinton’s place on Thursday, Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen added.
“Although I respect Bill and Tom, we still don’t have information from the Obama administration on what went so tragically wrong in Benghazi,” she said.
Republicans have been probing the Benghazi incident and asking tough questions of administration officials about their actions before, during and after the attack.
Senior Republicans such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Rep. Darrell E. Issa of California have said the consulate lacked sufficient security and have been highly critical of the administration’s response to the attack.
Last Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan E. Rice withdrew her name from consideration to replace Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state. Mrs. Rice was the official who stuck longest and hardest to the administration’s initial and inaccurate claims that the attack on the consulate was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islam video made in America, rather than a hastily planned assault by al Qaeda supporters and other extremists.View Entire Story
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Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
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