Clinton on Security at U.S. Diplomatic Posts: 'Nobody Takes That More Seriously Than I Do'

November 9, 2012 - 9:57 AM

Hillary Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - At an event honoring the life of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens on Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it is "our responsibility" to improve security at U.S. diplomatic posts abroad: "And nobody takes that more seriously than I do, and the security professionals at the State Department."

She also noted that Stevens volunteered for the job at ambassador to Libya, fully understanding the risks:

"The State Department sends people to more than 275 posts in 170 countries around the world," Clinton said.

"Chris understood that diplomats must operate in many places where soldiers do not, where there are no other boots on the ground, and security is far from guaranteed. And he volunteered for those kinds of assignments. He understood that we will never prevent every act of terrorism or achieve perfect security in this world, and that our diplomats cannot work in bunkers and do their jobs, that we inevitably must accept a level of risk to protect our country, a country we love, and to advance our interests and values.

"Of course, it is also our responsibility to constantly improve, to reduce the risks our people face, to make sure they have the resources they need to do what we ask of them. And nobody takes that more seriously than I do, and the security professionals at the State Department."

Hillary mentioned that a formal "Accountability Review Board" is now investigating "the terrorist attack that killed Chris," and she said the Obama administration "will certainly apply its recommendations and lessons learned to improving security everywhere."

Next Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee plans to hold an open hearing on the Benghazi attack and how the administration reacted to it. Clinton has been "invited" to testify, Fox News reported.

Two other congressional committees plan to hold closed hearings on the attack.

Last month, while traveling in Peru, Clinton took responsibility for Benghazi attack:

"I take responsibility," she told CNN. "I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision."

Fox News reports that a classified State Department cable -- dated Aug. 16 and sent to Clinton's office -- warned that the Benghazi consulate could not defend against a "coordinated attack."  It also said that 10 Islamist groups and Al Qaeda had training camps in Benghazi and that the consulate would be requesting more help.