Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s voice  cracked today during the Senate testimony about the investigation into the  attack on the American consulate in Benghazi on September 11.

She grew emotional at one point as  she  discussed the four American victims of the Benghazi attack, saying  the incident  is not just about ‘policy, it’s personal.’

‘I put my arms around the mothers and  fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters and the wives  left  alone to raise their children,’ she said, her voice shaking.

‘I stood next to President Obama as  the  Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews.

‘As I have said many times since September  11, I take responsibility,’ Mrs Clinton  told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

‘Nobody is more committed to getting this  right. I am determined to  leave the State Department and our country safer,  stronger and more  secure.’

She insisted on Wednesday that the department  is moving swiftly and aggressively to strengthen security at U.S. missions  worldwide after the deadly September 11 raid on the consulate in  Libya.

In probably her last appearance on Capitol  Hill as America’s top diplomat, Clinton once again took full responsibility for  the department’s missteps leading up to assault at the U.S. Consulate in  Benghazi, Libya that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other  Americans.

Mrs Clinton alternated between being  feisty  and emotional in her responses, though one thing that did not  change throughout  the hearing was that Senators- from both parties-  praised her service to the  country in her most recent governmental role.

‘It’s wonderful to see you in good  health  and as combative as ever,’ said Senator John McCain, who has long been critical  of the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi  investigation.

Clinton said the department is  implementing  the 29 recommendations of an independent review board that  harshly criticized  the department as well as going above and beyond the  proposals, with a special  focus on high-threat posts.

‘Make no mistake about it, we have got to  have a better strategy,’ she said.

She also defended the State Department’s  immediate response to the attacks, saying it was ‘timely and exceptional’ and  ‘saved American lives.’

But she noted that the U.S. is facing  ‘increasingly complex threats.’

‘We should never forget that our security  professionals get it right more than 99 per cent of the time,’ she said.

But ‘we have been facing a rapidly changing  threat environment,’ she added.

‘We now face a spreading jihadist threat. We  have to recognize this is a global movement.’

Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from  Tennessee, insisted that the attack could have been prevented.

‘There were systemic (security) deficiencies  and I know you know that,’ Mr Corker said to Mrs Clinton. ‘To my knowledge no  one has been held accountable.’

He referred to cables showing that Ambassador  Stevens had asked for greater security at the consulate prior to the attack.

‘These officials were screaming out for more  security,’ he said.

In response to those charges, Clinton said,  ‘We can’t think now about what could have, should have, would have  happened.’

‘Benghazi didn’t happen in a vacuum,’ she  said.

‘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.’

Clinton was the sole witness at  back-to-back  hearings before the Senate and House foreign policy panels  on the September  raid, the independent panel’s review and steps the  Obama administration has  taken to beef up security at U.S. facilities  worldwide.

Clinton had been scheduled to testify before  Congress  last month, but an illness, a concussion and a blood clot near her  brain forced her to postpone her appearance.

Her marathon day on  Capitol Hill will  probably be her last in Congress before she steps down as secretary of state.

President Barack Obama has nominated Senator  John  Kerry to succeed her as Secretary of State, and his swift Senate  confirmation is  widely expected. Kerry’s confirmation hearing is scheduled for  Thursday.

Clinton’s testimony was to focus on the  attack after more than three months of  Republican charges that the Obama  administration ignored signs of a  deteriorating security situation in Libya and  cast an act of terrorism  as mere protests over an anti-Muslim video in the heat  of a presidential election. Washington officials suspect that militants linked  to Al Qaeda carried out the attack.

‘It’s been a cover-up from the  beginning,’  said Senator John McCain, the newest member of the Senate  Foreign Relations  Committee.

Politics play an  outsized role in any  appearance by Clinton, who sought the Democratic  presidential nomination in  2008 and is the subject of constant  speculation about a possible bid in 2016.

The former first lady and New  York senator – a polarizing figure dogged by controversy – is about to  end her four-year  tenure at the State Department with high favorable  ratings.

A poll early last month by the Pew Research  Center for  the People & the Press found 65 per cent of Americans held a  favorable impression of Clinton, compared with 29 per cent  unfavorable.

Challenging Clinton at the hearing will be  two possible 2016 Republican  presidential candidates – Florida’s Marco Rubio  and Kentucky’s Rand  Paul, also a new member of the committee.


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