- (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
In April 2012, prior to the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on a U.S. Embassy compound in Benghazi, Libya, Secretary Hillary Clinton signed a document acknowledging that requests were made for additional security in Libya while also signing off on a plan to reduce the number of security personnel in Libya. In sworn testimony at a Jan. 23, 2013, House hearing, though, Clinton said that diplomatic security needs did not rise to her level.
The cable was revealed in a preliminary report on the Benghazi attack by the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. The report was written by the chairs of five House committees that are overseeing the investigation into the Benghazi attacks.
In a March 28, 2012, cable sent to Clinton, the report says, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz asked her for additional security. A response cable bearing Clinton's signature on April 19, 2012, acknowledged Cretz's request but detailed a plan to do the opposite – scale back security for embassy officials in Libya.
Cretz was replaced by Ambassador Christopher Stevens in May 2012. Stevens shared Cretz's concerns and continued to make requests for additional security. Stevens was one of four Americans killed in the Benghazi attack.
These cables appear to directly contradict Clinton's Jan. 23 sworn testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"I have made it very clear that the security cables did not come to my attention or above the assistant secretary level where the ARB (Accountability Review Board) placed responsibility. Where, as I think Ambassador Pickering said, 'the rubber hit the road,'" said Clinton, who is often mentioned as the leading contender for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
Clinton also testified that "it was very disappointing" to her that "there were inadequacies and problems in the responsiveness of our team here in Washington to the security requests" from the ambassadors to Libya, "and I was not aware of that going on, it was not brought to my attention."
"1.43 million cables a year come to the State Department. They are all addressed to me. They do not all come to me. They are reported through the bureaucracy," Clinton added.
The report also faults White House and State Department officials for altering the talking points that were used by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice when she was interviewed on five talk shows the Sunday after the attack. In those interviews, Rice said the attacks began as a spontaneous demonstration that escalated to violence.
Administration officials claimed the talking points were altered to protect classified information. Email exchanges related to the altering of Rice's talking points did not reveal, though, any concerns related to classified information, the report claims.
The report also faults the White House for blaming Rice's misleading information on the intelligence community.
"Had Administration spokesmen performed even limited due diligence inquiries into the intelligence behind the talking points or requested reports from personnel on the ground, they would have quickly understood that the situation was more complex than the narrative provided by Ambassador Susan Rice and others in the Administration," the report states.
At one point during Clinton's Jan. 23 testimony, she was incensed at questioning from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) about Rice's misleading information.
"With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. If it was because of a protest or if it was because guys out for a walk decided to go kill some Americans. What difference, at this point, does it make?" Clinton said in a raised voice as she banged both of her fists on the table.
A letter sent to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) by five House Democrats accuses the report of "unnecessarily politicizing our national security."