Transcript: Secretary Clinton’s interview with ABC News on Libya
Edited by Jenny Jiang
Transcript of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s interview with Reena Ninan of ABC News discussing the Libya terrorist attack on Oct. 15, 2012:
QUESTION: When I first met Chris Stevens, it was in a Benghazi elevator of a hotel. He really knew that area well. There was – there are some reports that he was concerned about the rise of al-Qaida. When did the U.S. become aware of transnational extremists operating in Eastern Libya, and what was the U.S. policy to deal with it?
CLINTON: Well, we have long known that extremists have come out of Libya, and certainly after the fall of Qadhafi we understood that there would be an effort to try to reestablish a presence of extremist bases and operations. But we also knew that aside from those individuals and groups, there were so many militias that had formed in the wake of the revolution, there were so many weapons in the country. So it was something that we were very focused on and working on.
QUESTION: If there is that solid evidence of who killed Chris Stevens – and obviously these guys aren’t coming in in handcuffs – would this Administration be willing to strike them before a U.S. election?
CLINTON: Well, let me say this. I think there are three points that are very important to me. First, we will get to the bottom of what happened. Secondly, we will learn whatever lessons can be gleaned in order to protect our people. And third, we will track down whoever did this and hold them accountable, bring them to justice.
QUESTION: Any closer to finding suspects?
CLINTON: There’s a lot of work going on. There’s an intense effort in our government. And I think our track record is pretty good that eventually we will find you.
QUESTION: We’re seeing al-Qaida strengthen in some parts – in Mali, in Syria, in Iraq. What’s the real status of al-Qaida, and are they strengthening?
CLINTON: Well, I think it’s absolutely fair to say that the major leadership of al-Qaida, including bin Ladin, has been decimated. There has been an effort to have other al-Qaida affiliate-like organizations – al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb – to try to take up the mantle of al-Qaida, but the core of al-Qaida has been severely damaged.
But we know that there will be terrorists, if they call themselves that or they call themselves something else, who will continue to terrorize people in the countries where they are based and continue to threaten the United States and our friends and allies. So we have never taken at all our eye off the ball of how we have to keep going after those extremists who pose a threat.
QUESTION: President Assad has started using his air force in Syria. The casualties have risen significantly. When the U.S. decided to go into Libya, it was because of on the grounds of an impending emergency humanitarian situation. The situation in Syria is far worse. Why not set up a no-fly zone there?
CLINTON: Obviously, this has been under discussion among allies in many conversations, and I think that the planning that has been taking place is important. There has been no decision made. But everyone knows that what the Assad regime is doing is just a brutal assault on the Syrian people. And what we need is a very clear commitment of support to the opposition inside of Syria and outside —
QUESTION: Would you be willing to talk to the military opposition?
CLINTON: Well, I think that there are conversations going on with those who are in the military – in fact, I know there are – by many different likeminded countries.
QUESTION: When you leave your position as Secretary of State, what unfinished business will you regret leaving behind the most?
CLINTON: Well, I will miss the extraordinary people. I have more than 60,000 people around the world who are working hard every single day to promote peace and prosperity and who want to advance America’s interests and values and keep us safe here at home. So I will miss the people and I will miss a lot of the extraordinarily important work. But it’s work that never ends. I mean, we’re living at a time when the world is so complex, so many challenges and threats going on simultaneously. So I will be there cheering on whoever my successor is.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
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