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Rep. Brooks Questions Secretary Clinton on Benghazi Tragedy

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Location: Washington, DC

This afternoon, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, questioned U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the misinformation provided by the White House via U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to the public following the tragic deaths of Ambassador Stevens and other American citizens in Benghazi.

Transcript of Rep. Brooks' Q&A with Sec. Clinton:

Congressman Brooks: "Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Secretary Clinton. It's an honor to be here today, and I want to thank you for the time you've spent with us, and with the Senate for that matter. I'm sure it's been a long day.

"It's been my experience that the truth without credibility is meaningless, and credibility once lost is difficult to reacquire. My concern is the degree to which false statements about Benghazi have damaged America's credibility, not only here, but also abroad. I don't focus on any of your statements in that regard, rather I focus on some others. On September 16, 2012, on "Meet the Press,' Ambassador Susan Rice stated, and I quote, "What happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copy cat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video,' end quote. Let me break this statement down into three parts, if I might. I'd ask you to confirm based on the data we now have, whether her comments were true or false. Secretary Clinton, is Ambassador Rice's statement that Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction to the Cairo protests factually accurate?"

Secretary Clinton: "Well, I think if you look at the ARB [Accountability Review Board] finding, Congressman, there is still question about what caused it, so I don't want to mislead you in any way. That is not the weight of the evidence right now, but I think until the FBI completes its investigation we're not going to know all the reasons why these people showed up with weapons and stormed our compound."

Congressman Brooks: "Well, Secretary Clinton, is Ambassador Rice's statement that Benghazi was a copy cat of the Cairo demonstrations factually accurate?"

Secretary Clinton: "Well, it turned out not to be because the Cairo demonstrations were not heavily armed, and we did eventually get host nation security support. So there were differences. But, again I would say that Secretary Rice [sic] conveyed information that had been provided by the intelligence community and the interagency process."

Congressman Brooks: "I'm not trying to go into the process right now, I'm just trying to determine what the truth is as best we know at this time. Secretary Clinton, is Ambassador Rice's statement that Benghazi was quote, "prompted, of course, by the [anti-Muslim] video,' end quote, put on the internet in the United States, factually accurate?"

Secretary Clinton: "I have to go back to my first answer Congressman, and just say that we don't know all the motivations so I don't want to give a sweeping answer as to what prompted those men to come out that night and attack our compound."

Congressman Brooks: "Okay, well on September 16th, the very same day, you and Ambassador Susan Rice made her statements to the American people and the world, Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif said on NPR that, quote, "the idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest, that it just spun out of control, is completely unfounded and preposterous. We firmly believe that this was a pre-calculated, preplanned attack that was carried out specifically to attack the United States Consulate,' end quote. As we now know, from everything I have read at least, the Libyan president told the truth. Contrast that with the statements by Ambassador Rice to the United Nations. It forces one to wonder whether Libya's intelligence was that much better than America's on September the 16th, or whether Libyan leaders were that much more willing to be candid or to avoid misstatements. Secretary Clinton, what evidence was there that was so compelling, that it caused the White House, through Ambassador Susan Rice, to make these representations about spontaneous protest, anti-Muslim videos, and the like, despite evidence and statements of Libya's own president to the contrary. If she is going to make these statements an affirmative act on her part, where was the compelling evidence and what was it?"

Secretary Clinton: "Well Congressman, I was not involved in the so-called talking points process. My understanding is it was a typical process, trying to get to the best information available, it was an intelligence product. They are, as I again understand it, working with their committees of jurisdiction to try to unpack that, but I will say that all of the senior Administration officials, including Ambassador Rice, who spoke publically to this terrible incident have the same information from the intelligence community."

Congressman Brooks: "If I might interject, I appreciate your response so far, but if you're not familiar with any compelling evidence that would support the statements made by Ambassador Rice, who would know?"

Secretary Clinton: "Well, there was evidence and the evidence was being sifted and analyzed by the intelligence community, which is why the intelligence community was the principle decider about what went into talking points. And there was also the added problem of nobody wanting to say things that would undermine the investigation. So it was much more complex than I think we're giving it credit for sir."

Congressman Brooks: "Thank you for your candor, and thank you for your time."


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