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Clinton responded to her old friend “we just have a disagreement” over both “what happened and when it happened” in Benghazi and the administration’s actions in Libya post-Qaddafi. She did remind the senators that a number of congressional “holds” had been put on administration requests for funding for stepped-up involvement in Libya.
A common refrain from some members of Congress, she said, was, “Why are we doing anything for Libya, it’s a wealthy country” because of its oil.
Suggesting that the disconnect between Congress and the administration on issues like resources for a country like Libya or spending on diplomatic security also shares in the blame for the Benghazi tragedy, Clinton said, “We have to get our act together.”
The testiest exchange in the Senate testimony came when Sen. Ron Johnson (R) of Wisconsin told Clinton that had it wanted to, the administration could have “easily, easily” ascertained within hours that Benghazi was not the result of a demonstration. Instead, he said, “we were misled that there were supposedly protests and something sprang out of that.”
Clinton raised her hands – and her voice – responding angrily that four Americans were dead, adding, “Was it because of a protest or is it because of guys out for a walk one night and they decide they go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”
The committee’s Democratic senators had their own refrain to cite in response to their Republican colleagues’ repeated assertion that the American people were “misled” on Benghazi. For every reference to “false information” on Benghazi, the Democrats responded with reminders of the Bush administration’s insistence on the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – weapons that turned out not to exist – as a pretext for going to war.
Sen. Dick Durban (D) of Illinois, citing the Iraq WMD claims and asking rhetorically if “the American people [are always] told correct information right away,” added, “We could have a hearing on that.”