White House Defends Clinton as ‘One of the Great Secretaries of State’ in History

By Fred Lucas | January 23, 2013 | 3:40 PM EST

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton takes her seat on on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) – The White House defended outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as one of the greatest in history on the day she endured tough questions on Capitol Hill regarding the Benghazi terrorist attack.

A reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney about Clinton’s legacy.

“I think she has been, and history will show her to have been, one of the great secretaries of State,” Carney responded. “She came in office at a time when we were dealing with a diminished reputation worldwide where alliances were frayed, where we engaged in two wars for which there were not strategies to end in a way that was in the interest of the United States, where we had unmet interests in places like Asia, and elsewhere – Africa and Latin America that we needed to pay attention to.

“And she did extraordinary work in advancing the president’s agenda on all those matters, and I know the president feels that very strongly,” Carney added.

The White House defense came as some members of Congress questioned Clinton’s leadership after the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Administration officials, including President Barack Obama, Clinton and United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice said the attack was a spontaneous response to a YouTube video. Officials later admitted it was a pre-planned attack.

During her testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday morning, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) asked about the initial talking points blaming the YouTube video.

Clinton became irate and responded, “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.”

A reporter asked Carney about Clinton’s statement, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Carney tried to explain.

“Here’s what the Secretary of State was saying and the clear point that she was making, and it’s one that I have made and others have made repeatedly, which is that no one took more seriously the fact that we lost four American lives in Benghazi than the president of the United States and the Secretary of State of the United States,” Carney said.

“And, whatever was said, based on information provided by the intelligence community on a series of Sunday shows bears no relevance on the ultimate questions of what happened in Benghazi, who was responsible, and what we must do to ensure that it never happens again, and that we bring to justice those who killed our diplomats and other Americans,” Carney continued.

“So, that is clearly a point that we have been making for a long time and there has been an obvious political obsession over a serious of talking points that again bears no relevance on the essential issues here as I just enumerated,” he said.

“The fact is, I and Ambassador Rice and others provided to you and through you to the American people the information that we had available at the time, making clear that it was preliminary, making clear that it would evolve as investigations continued and more information became available. And nothing about that process in anyway changes what happened in Benghazi or what needs to be done to prevent a tragedy like that happening again.”