Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should testify on Capitol Hill regarding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on the anniversary of Sept. 11 earlier this year that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
"Last month, while on a trip to Peru, Secretary Clinton said she that she took full responsibility for the events in Benghazi. I take her at her word," Rubio wrote in an op-ed on Fox News. "As the nation’s top diplomat, she should therefore appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in both open and classified hearings."
Clinton had been scheduled to testify before Congress earlier this month, but after she came down with a stomach bug and eventually fainted and suffered a concussion, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, insisted that Clinton's aides take her place.
Kerry and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, have since both announced that they still expect Clinton to testify before their respective panels sometime in January.
Two deputy secretaries of state, Thomas Nides and William Burns, testified before both Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees last week, following the release of a scathing report that blasted the State Department for "systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies," and debunked a number of right-wing allegations of gross negligence by the administration as the crisis unfolded. After Clinton issued a statement thanking the board for its "clear-eyed, serious look at serious systemic challenges," Nides and Burns described to the congressional panel a list of steps the department planned to take in response to the report.
But Rubio writes that the release of the report and subsequent testimony by State Department officials on its findings should not excuse Clinton from being asked to testify on the incident. Clinton is expected to step down from her position sometime in early 2013, leaving Kerry, Obama's recently announced nominee for secretary of state, to take the reins if the Senate confirms him, which it is expected to. Rubio said he wants some clarification from Clinton before that happens.
"She should explain why her department failed to adequately secure the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi and what her personal level of knowledge was of Libya security deficiencies, warnings about which Deputy Secretary of State William Burns testified were circulated to the highest levels of the State Department, presumably including Secretary Clinton," Rubio wrote. "More importantly, Secretary Clinton should elaborate on how the State Department plans to fix the broad systemic failures that the Board identified."