Clinton: ‘Very Important Reasons' Why State Dept. and ‘Other Gov’t Agencies’ Were in Benghazi

By Susan Jones | January 30, 2013 | 6:10 AM EST

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participates in an international conference on Libya, in London on March 29, 2011. (AP Photo/File)

( – Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States had “very important reasons” for being in Benghazi, including weapons recovery.

“This was the heart of the Libyan revolution,” Clinton told Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren Tuesday night.

“We knew that there were dangerous people in and around Benghazi. We also knew that there were a lot of loose weapons. And part of what we were doing there was trying to get leads on recovering those loose weapons. And we knew that there were smuggling routes that could go into Egypt, into Sinai, threaten Israel.

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“So there were very important reasons why we were there, not just the State Department, but other government agencies."

As the events of Sept. 11, 2012 revealed, the CIA had an annex about half a mile from the State Department's Special Mission in Benghazi. The attack on the State Department mission blew its cover.

Clinton told Van Susteren there's no deadline for sending Americans back to Benghazi: "Whether or when we go back will depend upon the security situation, and what kind of, you know, security support diplomats would have.”

Clinton also said the under-funding of security at U.S. consulates and embassies has been a problem since the Bush administration.

“Now, it’s not all a question of money,” she said. “You know, you have to have the right people in the right job, making the right decisions. But money is a factor. And ever since the Bush administration, our requests for security monies from Congress have not been met. So you've had to make priority decisions. And it's been difficult.”

Other highlights from the interview with Van Susteren:

-- Egypt: Clinton said the protests and continuing unrest in Egypt are part of an ongoing adjustment period -- "as somebody said, waking up from a political coma and understanding democracy.” She sais the U.S. has “a lot at stake in trying to keep moving these transformations in the right direction." Speaking of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Clinton said, “I think he has a lot of the right intentions.”

-- On Iran, Clinton said the U.S. policy is “prevention, not containment.” She said tough sanctions are working by placing pressure on the Iranian leadership. “Now, part of what we have to do is keep them (Iran) isolated,” with the continued support of Russia and China. She said the U.S. is making it clear to Iran that “there’s not going to be any alternative but to deny them a nuclear weapons program.”

Also See:

Former Special Forces Commander: Was U.S. Running Guns to Syrian Rebels Via Benghazi? CIA: No (Jan. 22, 2013)