Report: Sec. Clinton takes "responsibility" for Benghazi attack

5:25 AM, Oct 16, 2012   |    comments
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(CBSNews.com) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attempted to take responsibility for the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 in a series of interviews on Monday.

Speaking with reporters, she said the blame should rest with her office.

"I take responsibility" for what happened on September 11, Clinton told CNN after arriving in Lima, Peru, for a visit. Clinton gave several interviews to U.S. television networks Monday night, and it was the first private response she has given about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in eastern Libya.

Clinton insisted President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are not involved in security decisions, according to CNN.

"I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha," she told the cable news network, noting that it is close to the election.

In speaking with CBS News, Clinton expressed personal regret for Ambassador Stevens' death.

"Nobody wants to get answers more than I do," Clinton said. "These were people who I care deeply about. I knew Chris Stevens. I asked him personally to be in Benghazi during the revolution. I personally nominated him to be ambassador because I couldn't think of a better person to represent the United States: Somebody who understood what was at stake for Libya what was at stake for U.S. I saw how these revolutions could be so positive or hijacked. He understood that. He was instrumental in working with Libyans. I care deeply about what happened that night."

Since the Sept. 11 attack, the State Department has come under intense scrutiny from Republicans over how it handled security at the consulate in Benghazi in the months before the attacks. In a hearing held by the Republican-led House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week, Eric Nordstrom, the former regional chief security officer for the State Department, told the committee his pleas for more security were ignored.

Republicans have also fired off negative accusations for the way some in the Obama administration initially blamed the violence on an anti-Muslim movie that went viral online and inflamed protests in the Middle East. That explanation has now been discarded, and the administration has long since admitted it was a well-organized terrorist attack.

Clinton and White House officials defend that information about the attack is still coming to light. Clinton told reporters on Friday that "there is much we still don't know and I am the first to say that."

In a statement, U.S. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said Clinton's acceptance of responsibility was "a laudable gesture" but said they were still critical of Obama's foreign policy.

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