By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R) from Huntsville questioned U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about how U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s misinformation to the public following the Benghazi attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Stevens and three other American citizens. Rep. Brooks is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Congressman Brooks said to Secretary Clinton, “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 replied, “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.”
Rep. Brook then asked, “Well, Secretary Clinton, is Ambassador Rice’s statement that Benghazi was a copy cat of the Cairo demonstrations factually accurate?”
Secretary Clinton replied, “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 conveyed information that had been provided by the intelligence community and the interagency process.”
Congressman Brooks followed up, “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 replied, “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.”
Representative Brooks then asked about the inconsistency between Ambassador Rice’s story and the information being presented by Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif who, “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.”
Secretary Clinton replied to that questioning, “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.”
Rep. Brooks asked, “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 replied, “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 Mo Brooks represents Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District. This is his second term in the Congress and his first term as a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.