WHITE HOUSE — Obama administration officials say some Republicans in Congress are trying to politically exploit hearings into last year’s deadly attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya. A White House spokesman Wednesday defended former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s handling of the incident.
The killing of four people at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last September 11 has led to a series of hearings on Capitol Hill, most recently on Wednesday.
Three former diplomats testified about the events that led to the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three others.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Republican lawmakers’ questioning about the administration’s conduct in the matter is politically motivated.
“I mean, this is a subject that has, from its beginning, been subject to attempts to politicize it by Republicans, when, in fact, what happened in Benghazi was a tragedy,” Carney said.
An independent panel concluded that failures of leadership and management in the State Department led to grossly inadequate security at the mission in Benghazi.
Some Republican lawmakers say the White House is covering up information, and that the incident and its handling is a scandal that requires a deeper investigation.
Carney said the information discussed at Wednesday’s hearing already was known, and that the administration has cooperated with all the investigations.
He said the administration is confident that former secretary of state Clinton acted properly in response to the killings, and that the State Department has responded to the independent panel’s findings.
“There was legitimate criticism that was amply aired in the Accountability Review Board report, that was unsparing and critical, and that the State Department, instead of being defensive about it, accepted in whole and is acting on every recommendation contained therein,” Carney said.
For several weeks after the attack, administration officials characterized it as the result of a spontaneous protest. They later revised their position, saying the incident was a terrorist attack.
Former secretary Clinton has often been mentioned as a possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidate.