Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies before… (Pete Marovich / European…)
WASHINGTON -- A cable signed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton proposed scaling back security personnel in the Libyan city of Benghazi five months before militants there killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, according to an interim report by House Republicans.
It is unclear whether Clinton personally authored the cable, a copy of which was not included in the report. Cables from Washington typically go out under the name of the secretary of State even though almost all are written by staff members.
Clinton has said that she was not involved in decisions about the security posture in Benghazi. “I didn’t see those requests. They didn’t come to me. I didn’t approve them. I didn’t deny them,” she told Congress in January.
Her spokesman, Phillipe Reines, referred questions Tuesday to National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. She did not address the cable specifically, but said, “The report just released by the House Republican Conference on Benghazi appears to raise questions that have already been asked and answered in great detail by the administration.”
The report draws from investigations by Republican staff members of five House committees: Oversight, Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, Intelligence and Judiciary.
It repeats long-standing Republican criticisms about the Obama administration’s handling of the assaults on a diplomatic compound and a nearby CIA base in Benghazi in September.
The U.S. mission there was not well defended, the report said, and State Department officials repeatedly rebuffed requests for additional security personnel.
The administration’s early assertion that the attack stemmed from a protest was wrong, according to the report.
“After the attacks, the administration perpetuated a deliberately misleading and incomplete narrative that the violence grew out of a demonstration caused by a YouTube video,” the report said. “The administration consciously decided not to discuss extremist involvement or previous attacks against Western interests in Benghazi.”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said there was no intent to mislead. The latest understanding of the attack, he said this month, is that there was some preplanning along with elements of mob violence.
U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that the attack was not ordered by Al Qaeda, although some of the attackers may have had links to the group’s North African affiliates.
An FBI investigation aimed at identifying and capturing the perpetrators has thus far resulted in no charges.
Four State Department officials were removed from their posts — but not fired by the department — after an independent review board found that “grossly inadequate” security in Benghazi contributed to the loss of life.
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