Transcript: Hillary Clinton on the motivations behind the Benghazi consulate attack

Transcribed and edited by Jenny Jiang

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on . The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the attacks against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was held on Jan. 23, 2013:

Congressman, I want to be clear that of course it was a terrorist attack. The very next day I called it an attack by heavily-armed militants on our compound. I think there is still, however, questions
about exactly what caused it, who the attackers were. The ARB, after months of research, said the picture is still very complicated and I think it’s worth members looking at both the unclassified and
classified ARB with that in mind.

Again, I would say, Congressman, that we described the attack – I described the attack the next morning. The President called it an attack of terror. There was a – as you will find in reading both the
unclassified and classified version of the ARB, there was a lot of questions about who was behind it, what motivated it, and the ARB says those questions are still not fully answered today.

I think I’ve made that very clear, Congressman. Let me say that we’ve come here and made a very open, transparent presentation. I did not have to de-classify the ARB. I could have joined 18 of the other ARBs under both Democratic and Republican administrations kept it classified and then, you know, just said “Good bye.” That’s not who I am; that’s not what I do.

I have great confidence that the Accountability Review Board did the job they were asked to do, made the recommendations that they thought were based on evidence – not on emotion…

The reason we have Accountability Review Boards is so that we take out of politics, we take out of emotions what happened and we try to get to the truth. I think this very distinguished panel did just that, and we are working diligently over time to implement their recommendations. That is my responsibility. I’m going to do everything I can before I finish my tenure.

And I would also – going back to your first point about the concerns that people you represented have expressed about statements that were made, I would refer you both to the unclassified and classified versions of the ARB where after months of research and talking to more than 100 witnesses, the picture is still very complicated about what happened that night. There are key questions surrounding the identity, actions, and motivations of the perpetrators that are to be determined. And I recommend that every member read the classified version, which goes into greater detail that I cannot speak to here today.

I think if you look at the ARB finding, Congressman, there’s still questions about what caused it so I don’t want to mislead you in any way. That is not the weight of the evidence right now but I think until the FBI completes its investigation, we’re not going to know all the reasons why these people showed up with weapons and stormed our compound.

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