Transcript: Clinton’s response to Sen. Chris Coons’s question the U.S. role in North Africa

Transcribed and edited by Jenny Jiang

Partial transcript of Q&A between Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the attacks against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing was held on Jan. 23, 2013: 

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.):

…You said in your opening statement you’re determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure, and in my view, because of your leadership, they are.

Today, we continue the consideration of the recommendations of the Advisory Review Board, which found the security was “grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place in Benghazi” in September. The mistakes that were made are simply unacceptable, and I’m pleased that the state department has beacon to promptly implement the board’s recommendation thanks to your leadership.

I know you agree that the massive security failures such as those witnessed in Benghazi, which cost the lives of 4 brave Americans, simply cannot happen again, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on this committee in a search and review of the resources needed and the State Department’s structure to ensure that we do better to protect our diplomats and other Americans who put their lives at risk each and every day.

As Chairman of the Africa subcommittee, I’m particularly pleased that you have drawn for this committee today in your testimony the link between this tragic incident in Benghazi, the recent terrorist incident in Algeria, and the unfolding challenges in Mali. I chaired a hearing on Mali on Dec. 5 and I’ve been impressed with your engaged leadership – visits to Algeria sort of raising the alarms on AQIM.

And I welcome your testimony today on how you see the regional threats from AQIM, how you see the consequences of this recent incident in Algeria, and what you think there is for the United States in both supporting the current actions by the French and Mali military and the need for our ongoing insurance – investment to restore democracy in Mali to restore development in some positive prospects moving forward with the people of Mali, and how you think we can ensure that State and Defense are coordinated through AFRICOM in west and north Africa going forward.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

Well, Senator, I appreciate your sustained attention to Africa, and I think it’s going to be viewed as quite prophetic because there will be, I believe, a continuing set of challenges. You mentioned some of them. But by no means – we’ve got Boko Haram in Nigeria posing the threat of instability to one of the most important oil producing nations in the world – something very important to our country. We’ve got other unrest and challenges coming down the west coast of Africa.

But we also have a success story – at least a hope for a beginning success story in Somalia. And what did the United States do there? You know, when I became Secretary of State, I recommitted American money to the AMISOM [African Union Mission to Somalia] forces. We worked to train the Ugandans, the Burundis, and others. We worked with the Kenyans when they went in. We worked with the Djiboutis. It took time. There was no shortcut. But we had literally the boots of our American soldiers and the boots of American diplomats on the ground. I’ve visited one of the training camps in Uganda.

And what we have to do is recognize we’re in for a long-term struggle here, and that means we’ve got to pay attention to places that historically we have not chosen to or had to. So I would hope that this committee can make that case to the rest of the Congress.

We’re now looking at troops coming from other neighboring African countries. We can’t just send them to Mali. They don’t have training to do that. We’re going to have to work with other partners to train them and equip them and then to sustain them – just like we did with the troops in Somalia.

So, you know, 4 years ago Al Shabaab was one of the biggest threats not only to East Africa but to the United States. We have a chance to really continue on a positive track there but it didn’t happen by accident; it took American money, American know-how, American experience. And we have to make the decision we’re going to do the same in North Africa as well.

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2 Comments on “Transcript: Clinton’s response to Sen. Chris Coons’s question the U.S. role in North Africa

  1. Pingback: Transcript: Clinton’s response to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's questions on the State Department's transfer authority request & cooperation with the DOD in responding to the Benghazi attack | What The Folly?!

  2. Pingback: Transcript: Clinton’s response to Sen. John McCain's questions on the Benghazi attack | What The Folly?!

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