Hillary Riled: 'What Difference at This Point Does It Make?'

January 23, 2013 - 9:37 AM

Clinton Libya

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) - Why, five days after the terror attacks in Benghazi, did U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice insist on five Sunday talk shows that the attack sprang from a protest over an obscure anti-Muslim videotape?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton grew heated while answering that question at Wednesday's Senate hearing on Benghazi. She said she did not know of any reports that contradicted the talking points Rice used when she went on those Sunday shows. Information was still developing, Clinton said.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) interrupted: Why didn't someone at the State Department simply call the diplomatic personnel who were evacuated from Benghazi to get the story?

"Madam Secretary, do you disagree with me that a simple phone call to (the diplomatic personnel) to determine what happened would have ascertained immediately that there was no protest? I mean, that was a piece of information that could have been easily, easily obtained -- within hours, not days," Sen. Johnson said.

As Clinton started to respond -- not giving a direct answer -- Johnson interrupted her. No, no, no, no," he said. "Again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests, that something sprang out of that -- that assaults sprang out of that."

Speaking over each other for a few moments, Clinton finally blurted: "With all due respect, the fact is, we had four dead Americans! Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they'd go kill some Americans?! What difference, at this point, does it make?! It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.

"Now honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is, people were trying in real time to get to the best information," Hillary continued.

"But you know, to be clear, it is -- from my perspective -- less important today, looking backwards, as to why these militants decided they did it and to find them and bring them to justice and then maybe we'll figure out what was going on in the meantime."