In an “exit” interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued the theme that, during the Bush administration, requests for monies from Congress to secure embassies and consulates were rejected.
When asked by Van Susteren whether, in the wake of the Benghazi attack in which four American diplomats were murdered, Americans could now feel safe or satisfied that our consulates, embassies, and diplomats are secure, Clinton responded:
Well, as to the first question, you know, the accountability review board made a set of recommendations. We are embracing and implementing all of them, and making sure that we apply them.
Now, it’s not all a question of money. I am the first to say that. You know, you have to have the right people and the right job, making the right decisions. But money is a factor. And ever since the Bush administration, our requests for security monies from Congress have not been met. So you’ve had to make priority decisions. And it’s been difficult.
So I am determined to leave the State Department safer and stronger when I walk out the door. And I know that John Kerry will just pick up the ball and run with it.
In October, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Charlene Lamb testified that the size of the attack, and not the money, was the central issue. When asked, at that hearing, whether there was any budget consideration that led her not to increase the security force, Lamb responded, “No,” and added, “This was an unprecedented attack in size.”
In response to yet another question about budgetary issues, Lamb replied, “Sir, if it’s a volatile situation, we will move assets to cover that.”
However, during her testimony last week, Clinton said that the Accountability Review Board (ARB) found that budget issues played a role in the failure to secure the consulate.
“That’s why you have an independent group like an ARB; that’s why it was created to look at everything,” Clinton said.
Republican lawmakers, however, said that suggestions that the consulate in Benghazi was not secured because of finances were politically-based. They observed that the State Department has spent millions on lower-priority projects that could have been spent on security.