Last week, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland answered several questions on the Benghazi attacks on our consulate and the murder of our ambassador. She also made a fool of herself by stating, “Look, I’m generally dumber than most of the rest of the government. I mean, that’s what I’m paid to be.”
This week, the Libya question has been first and foremost on the minds of the American public – especially after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she took responsibility for security at our embassies, then threw her own security staff under the bus; especially after President Obama sent out minions to take responsibility for security in Benghazi; especially after the Sunday shows were replete with recriminations on the Benghazi situation.
So how many questions did the State Department answer about Libya on Monday and Tuesday during their daily press briefings?
On Monday and Tuesday, Nuland answered 7 questions about Libya; 2 about Iran; 2 about Egypt; 2 about Israel and the Palestinians; 1 on North Korea; 1 on China/Tibet; 1 on Cuba. She even answered one about Montenegro. She answered zero on Libya.
She did, however, have this exchange yesterday morning with a reporter, in which she refused to give any information whatsoever about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s level of culpability regarding Benghazi:
QUESTION: Can I ask you about the series of interviews she gave on this trip? We didn’t have one, so we didn’t get a chance to ask her directly. But she said she took responsibility related to the Benghazi attack. I just wanted to be clear on what she’s taking responsibility for.
MS. NULAND: Well, if you have a chance to get up on our website, you will see transcripts of five TV interviews that the Secretary gave yesterday, as she always does when she’s traveling and she has TV crews with her or TV correspondents with her. I think she was extremely clear what she’s taking responsibility for. She is the head of this Department. She takes responsibility for this Department fully. She’s never made any secret of that. That’s been her position all the way through this.
QUESTION: What is she taking responsibility for, though? She just said, “I take responsibility,” full stop.
MS. NULAND: Brad, you can go back and reread that interview. The question was clear.
QUESTION: I have reread it.
MS. NULAND: The answer was clear. I’m not going to try to improve on it here.
QUESTION: Why won’t you?
MS. NULAND: Because she was -
QUESTION: She doesn’t finish the thought.
MS. NULAND: She was extremely clear what she takes responsibility for, which is the operation of this Department, all of the men and women here, and certainly she is personally, as she has said again and again and again since September 11th, committed to getting to the bottom of who did this and learning the lessons that we need to learn from it.
QUESTION: So you said she takes responsibility for the operation of this Department and the people who work here. So she wouldn’t be taking responsibility for things like intelligence assessments, per se, because that is something that might not be done by this building; is that correct?
MS. NULAND: Brad, I am not going to stand here and parse the Secretary’s words. She was very clear in her interviews.
QUESTION: Well, if she was so clear, why can’t you answer a question like that?
MS. NULAND: I want you to go back and read the interviews.
QUESTION: I have read all of them.
MS. NULAND: Yeah. I think she was very clear.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up on matters of security.
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Does she, at the end of the day, determine the – I know she shares with the intelligence people, those who are experts at security. But she takes the final decision in terms of what kind of security you should have on your diplomatic missions?
MS. NULAND: She speaks specifically about how security is done in this building in those interviews, as our team that testified, spoke to, but she made very clear that she takes responsibility for this Department.
QUESTION: And a very quick follow-up. If, let’s say, there is a couple of proposed security agencies, whether private or government, does she say we will go with this one or with that one?
MS. NULAND: That is not the way this works in this building. We’ve talked about the way these things work extensively. I don’t have anything to add here.
Well, that about clears things up, doesn’t it?