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Benghazi attack wasn't in 'a vacuum'

Jan. 23, 2013 at 1:32 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Because the Sept. 11 attacks in Libya didn't "happen in vacuum," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the department was reviewing Arab power dynamics.

Clinton testified Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed.

The State Department was criticized for its response to the attacks, which were initially blamed on protesters frustrated with a film produced in the United States seen as insulting to Islam. U.S. officials later tied to assault to al-Qaida although reports from Libya said loyalists of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had a hand in the assault.

Clinton, teary-eyed at times, brushed off criticism of her leadership during the crisis by noting that Benghazi is part of a "long list" of incidents regarding U.S. diplomats. Security teams, she said, "get it right more than 99 percent of the time."

Libya since a NATO operation in 2011 has struggled with political and security issues. Meanwhile, elements of al-Qaida have presented challenges for much of the Middle East two years after the so-called Arab Spring swept through the region.

"Benghazi did not happen in a vacuum," Clinton said. "The Arab revolutions have scrambled power dynamics and shattered security forces across the region."

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