(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended the early response from the Obama administration regarding the terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that claimed the lives of four Americans, including Amb. Chris Stevens.
But she would not weigh in on the growing controversy about when exactly members of the Obama administration knew the Sept. 11 attack on the consulate was carried out by terrorists or whether senior administration members knew that State Department security officials were concerned about the situation at the embassy in the months leading up to the attack.
Clinton took questions from reporters following a bilateral meeting with the Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, and was asked about Vice President Joe Biden’s assertion during Thursday night’s debate that the administration was unaware of requests for increased security at the consulate.
Biden’s comment would seem to be contradicted by testimony a day earlier on Capitol Hill from a State Department security official that he had repeatedly requested more security.
Clinton said there is still an internal investigation, and an FBI investigation going on, and that she is cooperating with both.
“There is much we still don’t know, and I am the first to say that,” she said.
“There is nobody in the administration motivated by anything other than trying to understand what happened,” said Clinton. “We are doing all we can to prevent it from ever happening again anywhere.”
But Clinton said the circumstances surrounding the attack are still, more than a month later, not completely clear.
“To this day we do not have a complete picture, we do not have all the answers,” she said. “No one in this administration has ever claimed otherwise. Every one of us have made clear that we are providing the best information we have at that time. And that information continues to be updated. It also continues to be put into context and more deeply understood.”
Early on, and for more than a week after the attack, members of the administration suggested the attacks were the result of a protest gone awry even though it has become clear that the attack was a coordinated terror attack and there never was a protest.
While President Obama referred to “acts of terror” in a speech the day after the attack in the Rose Garden at the White House, officials did not label it terrorism until nine days later.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN