I am sure thousands of Americans watched the entire, long-awaited appearance and testimony of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
I watched — some of it.
I watched and listened carefully to the Secretary’s opening statement.
A statement wherein the Secretary:
• Provided the “sobering facts” that since 1988, there have been 19 attacks on American diplomats and their facilities, including Tehran in 1979, our Embassy and Marine barracks bombed in Beirut in 1983, Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, our embassies in East Africa in 1998, consulate staff murdered in Jeddah in 2004, the Khost attack in 2009, “and too many others” and the sobering fact that since 1977, 65 American diplomatic personnel have been killed by terrorists.
• Took responsibility and reasserted her commitment “to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure.”
• Described the actions that were taken immediately after the Benghazi attack, the investigations that were launched to determine exactly what happened in Benghazi, the lessons learned and the steps taken for improvement.
• Recalled how the very next morning after the attack, “[she] told the American people that heavily armed militants assaulted our compound,” and how she vowed to bring them to justice and stood with President Obama in the Rose Garden as he spoke of an “act of terror.”
• Described how she has accepted every one of the Accountability Review Board’s recommendations and that she has asked the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources “to lead a task force to ensure that all 29 of them are implemented quickly and completely, as well as pursuing additional steps above and beyond the recommendations.” Also, that 85 percent of specific items translated from those recommendations “are now on track to be completed.”
• Underscored the importance of the United States continuing to lead in the Middle East, in North Africa, and around the world, saying, “Our men and women who serve overseas understand that we accept a level of risk to protect the country we love. And they represent the best traditions of a bold and generous nation. They cannot work in bunkers and do their jobs. So it is our responsibility to make sure they have the resources they need, and to do everything we can to reduce the risks.”
I also watched Mrs. Clinton choke up when she recalled receiving the caskets of the four slain Americans last September. “For me, this is not just a matter of policy. It’s personal. I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters, and the wives left alone to raise their children,” she said.
The Secretary did show emotion of another kind when unfairly accused by some of the Senators.
The Washington Post says it best:
In a heated exchange with Sen. Ronald H. Johnson (R-Wis.), Clinton pounded the witness table as she strongly defended Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, against his charge of “purposely misleading the American public” about events leading up to the Benghazi attacks. Rice said in television interviews five days after the attacks that they grew out of a spontaneous protest, rather than a planned terrorist operation.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Clinton said of Johnson’s accusation. “The fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information.”
Clinton told Johnson he was wrong and that he was missing the point with a narrow focus on the wording of the script Rice used.
She said Rice related talking points developed by the intelligence community. Questions remain even today, she said, and it is “less important” to determine what motivated the attackers “than to find them and bring them to justice.”
I watched that exchange and I continued to watch an angry Senator, still bitter over his loss in the 2008 presidential race, inconsolable about slippig into the political shadows and desperately attempting to hold on to any bit of limelight, continuing to relentlessly and personally attack the Secretary and, his favorite target, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.
Yes, I listened to Senator John McCain’s tired, old tirade.
But when the camera turned to McCain while Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) came to Rice’s defense, suggesting that perhaps we could have a hearing on “five words: ‘Iraqi weapons of mass destruction,’” which did not exist and for which “Thousands of Americans lost their lives,” and I saw Senator McCain smirking, I turned the TV off.
Call me partisan, call me thin-skinned, call me opinionated but please don’t call me callous.
And, yes,I will read and perhaps watch the rest of the testimony.