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Read: Hillary Clinton’s Prepared Remarks On Benghazi

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Hillary Clinton’s full official prepared statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Benghazi attacks.

Watch Live Here Now: Hillary Clinton Testifies About Benghazi Attack

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS WASHINGTON, DC
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2013

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, Members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity.

The terrorist attacks in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 that claimed the lives of four brave Americans — Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty — are part of a broader strategic challenge to the United States and our partners in North Africa. Today, I want to offer some context for this challenge and share what we’ve learned, how we are protecting our people, and where we can work together to honor our fallen colleagues and continue to champion America’s interests and values.

Any clear-eyed examination of this matter must begin with this sobering fact: Since 1988, there have been 19 Accountability Review Boards investigating attacks on American diplomats and their facilities. Benghazi joins a long list of tragedies, for our Department and for other agencies: hostages taken in Tehran in 1979, our embassy and Marine barracks bombed in Beirut in 1983, Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, our embassies in East Africa in 1998, consulate staff murdered in Jeddah in 2004, the Khost attack in 2009, and too many others.

Of course, the list of attacks foiled, crises averted, and lives saved is even longer. We should never forget that our security professionals get it right 99 percent of the time, against difficult odds all over the world. That’s why, like my predecessors, I trust them with my life.

Let’s also remember that administrations of both parties, in partnership with Congress, have made concerted and good faith efforts to learn from the tragedies that have occurred, to implement recommendations from the Review Boards, to seek necessary resources, and to better protect our people from constantly evolving threats. That’s what the men and women who serve our country deserve. And it’s what we are doing again now, with your help. As Secretary, I have had no higher priority, and no greater responsibility.

As I have said many times since September 11, I take responsibility. Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure.

Taking responsibility meant moving quickly in those first uncertain hours and days to respond to the immediate crisis and further protect our people and posts in high- threat areas across the region and the world. It meant launching an independent investigation to determine exactly what happened in Benghazi and to recommend steps for improvement. And it meant intensifying our efforts to combat terrorism and support emerging democracies in North Africa and beyond.

Let me share some of the lessons we have learned, the steps we have taken, and the work we continue to do.

First, let’s start on the night of September 11 itself and those difficult early days. I directed our response from the State Department and stayed in close contact with officials from across our government and the Libyan government. So I saw first- hand what Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen called “timely” and “exceptional” coordination. No delays in decision-making. No denials of support from Washington or from the military. And I want to echo the Review Board’s praise for the valor and courage of our people on the ground – especially the security professionals in Benghazi and Tripoli. The Board said our response saved American lives in real time – and it did.

The very next morning, I told the American people that “heavily armed militants assaulted our compound” and vowed to bring them to justice. And I stood with President Obama as he spoke of “an act of terror.”

You may recall that in that same period, we also saw violent attacks on our embassies in Cairo, Sanaa, Tunis, and Khartoum, as well as large protests outside many other posts where thousands of our diplomats serve.

So I immediately ordered a review of our security posture around the world, with particular scrutiny for high-threat posts. We asked the Department of Defense to join Interagency Security Assessment Teams and to dispatch hundreds of additional Marine Security Guards. I named the first Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for High Threat Posts, so Missions in dangerous places get the attention they need. And we reached out to Congress to help address physical vulnerabilities, including risks from fire, and to hire additional Diplomatic Security personnel.

Second, even as we took these steps, I also appointed the Accountability Review Board led by Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen so that we could more fully understand what went wrong and how to fix it.

I have accepted every one of their recommendations — and I asked the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources to lead a task force to ensure that all 29 of them are implemented quickly and completely… as well as to pursue additional steps above and beyond those in the Board’s report.

Because of the effort we began in the days after the attacks, work is already well underway. And, as I pledged in my letter to you last month, implementation has now begun on all 29 recommendations. Our task force started by translating the recommendations into 64 specific action items. All of these action items were assigned to specific bureaus and offices, with clear timelines for completion. Fully 85 percent are on track to be completed by the end of March, with a number completed already.

We are taking a top-to-bottom look, and rethinking how we make decisions on where, when, and how our people operate in high threat areas, and how we respond to threats and crises.

As part of our effort to go above and beyond the Review Board’s recommendations, we are initiating an annual High Threat Post Review chaired by the Secretary of State, and ongoing reviews by the Deputy Secretaries, to ensure pivotal questions about security reach the highest levels. And we will regularize protocols for sharing information with Congress.

All of these actions are designed to increase the safety of our diplomats and development experts and reduce the chances of another Benghazi happening again.

Now, in addition to the immediate action we took and the Review Board process, we have been moving forward on a third front: addressing the broader strategic challenge in North Africa and the wider region.

Because Benghazi didn’t happen in a vacuum. The Arab revolutions have scrambled power dynamics and shattered security forces across the region. And instability in Mali has created an expanding safe haven for terrorists who look to extend their influence and plot further attacks of the kind we saw just last week in Algeria.

And let me offer my deepest condolences to the families of the Americans and all the people from many nations who were killed and injured in the recent hostage crisis. We remain in close touch with the Government of Algeria and stand ready to provide assistance if needed. We are seeking to gain a fuller understanding of what took place so that we can work together to prevent terrorist attacks like this in the future.

Concerns about terrorism and instability in North Africa are not new. Indeed they have been a top priority for our entire national security team. But after Benghazi, we accelerated a diplomatic campaign to increase pressure on al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other terrorist groups across the region.

In the first hours and days, I conferred with the President of Libya and the Foreign Ministers of Tunisia and Morocco. Two weeks later, I met with regional leaders at the United Nations General Assembly and held a special meeting focused on Mali and the Sahel. In October, I flew to Algeria to discuss the fight against AQIM. In November, I sent Deputy Secretary Bill Burns to follow up in Algiers. And then in December, he co-chaired the Global Counterterrorism Forum in Abu Dhabi and a meeting in Tunis of leaders working to build new democracies and reform security services.

In all these diplomatic engagements, and in near-constant contacts at every level, we have focused on targeting al Qaeda’s syndicate of terror – closing safe havens, cutting off finances, countering extremist ideology, and slowing the flow of new recruits. We continue to hunt the terrorists responsible for the attacks in Benghazi and are determined to bring them to justice. And we’re also using all our diplomatic and economic tools to support the emerging democracies of the region, including Libya, to strengthen security forces and provide a path away from extremism.

The United States must continue to lead… in the Middle East and all around the globe. We have come a long way in the past four years. We cannot afford to retreat now. When America is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences. Extremism takes root, our interests suffer, and our security at home is threatened.

That’s why Chris Stevens went to Benghazi in the first place. Nobody knew the dangers better than Chris, first during the revolution and then during the transition. A weak Libyan government, marauding militias, even terrorist groups… a bomb

exploded in the parking lot of his hotel, but he didn’t waver. Because he understood that it was critical for America to be represented in that pivotal place at that pivotal time.

Our men and women who serve overseas understand that we accept a level of risk to protect this country we love. They represent the best traditions of a bold and generous nation. And they cannot work in bunkers and do their jobs.

It is our responsibility to make sure they have the resources they need to do their jobs and to do everything we can to reduce the risks they face.

For me, this is not just a matter of policy… it’s personal.

I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews. I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters.

It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to lead the men and women of the State Department and USAID. Nearly 70,000 serving here in Washington and at more than 275 posts around the world. They get up and go to work every day – often in difficult and dangerous circumstances thousands of miles from home – because they believe the United States is the most extraordinary force for peace and progress the earth has ever known.

And when we suffer tragedies overseas, the number of Americans applying to the Foreign Service actually increases. That tells us everything we need to know about what kind of patriots I’m talking about. They ask what they can do for their country. And America is stronger for it.

Today, after four years in this job, after traveling nearly 1 million miles and visiting 112 countries around the world, my faith in our country and our future is stronger than ever. Every time that blue and white airplane carrying the words “United States of America” touches down in some far-off capital, I feel again the honor it is to represent the world’s indispensible nation. And I am confident that, with your help, we will continue to keep the United States safe, strong, and exceptional.

So I want to thank this committee for your partnership and your support of our diplomats and development experts around the world. You know the importance of the work they do day-in and day-out, and that America’s values and vital

national security interests are at stake. It is absolutely critical that we work together to ensure they have the resources and support they need to face increasingly complex threats.

I know that you share our sense of responsibility and urgency. And while we all may not agree on everything, let’s stay focused on what really matters: protecting our people and the country we all love.

Now I am now happy to answer your questions. ###

 

 

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‘Don’t Breathe Easy Yet’: Abortion Pill Safe Only ‘For Now’ Experts Say After SCOTUS Ruling

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In a largely expected ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected an attempt to have a decades-old prescription drug widely used to induce abortions, mifepristone, pulled from the market, but only because the group that filed the lawsuit lacked standing. The court did not rule on the actual merits of the case, nor on the drug’s safety and viability, or the FDA’s decision to approve the medication. Civil rights and other legal experts have long held Republicans, especially after Roe v. Wade was overturned, want to go after medication abortion and contraception, and warn after Thursday’s SCOTUS ruling those efforts will continue.

Mifepristone, which was first approved for use in France in 1988, was approved for prescription use in 2000 by the U.S. Food and Drug administration, which states it is safe to use.

“Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing for the court, wrote that while plaintiffs have ‘sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to elective abortion and to FDA’s relaxed regulation of mifepristone,’ that does not mean they have a federal case,” NBC News reports.

Justice Kavanaugh advised the plaintiffs that they “may present their concerns and objections to the president and FDA in the regulatory process or to Congress and the president in the legislative process.”

“And they may also express their views about abortion and mifepristone to fellow citizens, including in the political and electoral processes,” he added.

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Robert Reich, the professor of public policy and former U.S. Cabinet Secretary, wrote: “The Supreme Court dismissing challenges to the FDA’s approval of mifepristone is good news, but the fight’s not over. A MAGA-controlled FDA could effectively ban all abortion medications without even involving the courts or Congress. Abortion access is on the ballot this fall.”

Legal journalist Cristian Farias, added, “Today’s decision denying standing to religious doctors challenging the FDA’s approval of mifepristone says nothing about states doing the same. That’s a big problem, because Trump judge Matthew Kacsmaryk allowed a trio of states to intervene in this very case. He’s on a mission.”

Also pointing to the Kacsmaryk decision, Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern warns, “Today’s decision will probably not stop him from issuing more nationwide restrictions on mifepristone.”

Legal experts say the way the court ruled was anticipated, the physicians’ claim to standing was “utterly ridiculous,” and warn the right will return with another attack on medication abortion.

Attorney Moe Davis, the well-known and outspoken retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, professor of law, and judge, declared: “To be clear, the Supreme Court did not decide the merits of the case. They said the party challenging mifepristone lacked standing (i.e., they couldn’t show they suffered any injuries) to bring the case. Another party could (and will) try again. This isn’t a win, it’s a delay.”

Professor of law and legal historian Mary Ziegler said, “The fight over abortion pills and the Comstock Act isn’t over. Other plaintiffs are ready to bring identical claims and assert they have standing. And conservatives argue that a Trump DOJ could enforce the Comstock Act as a ban and force SCOTUS to take up the q.”

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Alex Aronson, former Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, now Executive Director of the non-profit organization Court Accountability, responded to Thursday’s ruling from a tactical perspective.

“Classic Roberts Court maneuver:

-grant dangerous, frivolous, right-wing case with no business on its docket;

-light country’s hair on fire;

-smack down frivolous case to be hailed as reasonable and moderate, giving cover to other destruction.

-still advance right-wing agenda”

Professor of law Melissa Murray, making clear this ruling is likely not the end, warned, “don’t breathe easy yet.”

“This decision preserves access to medication abortion… FOR NOW,” she wrote. “There will be another case–with better plaintiffs–before the Court faster than Thomas can book a ride on Crow’s private jet.”

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Image via Shutterstock

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‘These Kinds of Folks’: Jim Jordan Wants to Block Fani Willis and Alvin Bragg

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Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, increasing his efforts to use the tools of his office to support, protect, and promote Donald Trump, has been speaking with Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan about defunding federal prosecutions of the now-criminally convicted ex-president, according to a report by Politico Playbook.

Thursday morning Donald Trump is meeting with House Republicans, barely blocks away from the violent and deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol he incited, at the restaurant where one of the pipe bombs was discovered outside on January 6, 2021. Republicans, according to Punchbowl News’ Max Cohen, are singing the indicted ex-president “Happy Birthday,” and have presented him with the bat and ball from the congressional baseball game, which the GOP won Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, asked if Trump has committed to respect the peaceful transfer of power, an irritated and frustrated Speaker Johnson told reporters, “Of course he respects that. And we all do and we’ve all talked about it ad nauseam.”

READ MORE: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

Trump has been urging Speaker Johnson to pass legislation that would allow an ex-president to move any state-level prosecutions against them to the federal courts. It’s an idea that has been met with skepticism among Republicans, but “there’s an education effort underway inside the House GOP,” Politico reports, citing remarks by the bill’s sponsor, U.S. Rep. Russell Fry (R-SC).

Chairman Jordan wants to take those efforts to defund those federal prosecutions, specifically defunding Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Office, and extend them to state prosecutors who have brought cases against the ex-president. State and local law enforcement agencies, including district attorneys offices, are eligible for federal grants.

“That country certainly sees what’s going on, and they don’t want Fani Willis and Alvin Bragg and these kinds of folks to be able to continue to use grant dollars for targeting people in a political lawfare type of way,” Chairman Jordan told Politico Playbook.

READ MORE: ‘Birth Control and Dental Dams and Food’: Fox News Host’s Rant Goes Viral

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GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

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Republicans will ban in-vitro fertilization (IVF) if Donald Trump is elected after the Southern Baptist Convention voted on Wednesday to condemn the practice, a political scientist is predicting. IVF involves manual fertilization of eggs, some of which are destroyed if not implanted, which is murder according to those who believe life begins at conception.

“The SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., with over 50,000 churches and over 14 million faithful, and has become a political force in recent decades,” Reuters reports. “The resolution called on ‘Southern Baptists to reaffirm the unconditional value and right to life of every human being, including those in an embryonic stage, and to only utilize reproductive technologies consistent with that affirmation.’

Largely white and Republican, the Southern Baptist Convention is the second-largest Christian denomination in the U.S. after Catholics.

“The move may signal the beginning of a broad turn on the right against IVF, an issue that many evangelicals, anti-abortion advocates and other social conservatives see as the ‘pro-life’ movement’s next frontier — one they hope will eventually lead to restrictions, or outright bans, on IVF at the state and federal levels,” Politico reports Wednesday.

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“Southern Baptists are the base of the Republican Party,” writes professor of political science David Darmofal. “Parties are responsive to their bases. The Southern Baptist Convention just voted to oppose IVF. Republicans will ban IVF if Trump wins.”

According to the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) over 86,000 babies, about 2.3%, were born via IVF in 2021, largely due to infertility.

America already has a declining fertility rate, meaning that more people are dying than are being born, according to the CDC.

“The general fertility rate in the United States decreased by 3% from 2022, reaching a historic low,” CDC reports. “This marks the second consecutive year of decline, following a brief 1% increase from 2020 to 2021. From 2014 to 2020, the rate consistently decreased by 2% annually.”

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The U.S. Senate on Thursday will vote on legislation to protect IVF.

Other critics are sounding the alarm as well.

“When Sen. Katie Britt and Sen. Ted Cruz say IVF is safe and Dems are fear-mongering, she’s lying, and today the SBC told on her,” Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Kyle Whitmire wrote.

“I could care less if Southern Baptists oppose the science of IVF that has helped so many people to have families that they otherwise would not have,” noted neuroscientist Bryan William Jones. “You be you. What I do care about is that Southern Baptists are working politically to PREVENT families from having access to IVF.”

The Biden campaign Wednesday afternoon posted video of Donald Trump praising the SBC and vowing, “I’ll be with you side by side.”

Watch below or at this link.

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