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McCain: Buck Stops with Obama

Hillary Clinton accepts responsibility for Benghazi attacks—but GOP Senators say WH must step up

• October 15, 2012 10:40 pm

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A group of Republican Senators has called Sec. Hillary Clinton's acceptance of responsibility for security failures prior to the Benghazi terrorist attack a "laudable gesture" — but say the White House must accept responsibility, in a statement released late Monday.

"We must remember that the events of Sept. 11 were preceded by an escalating pattern of attacks this year in Benghazi," Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) write in the statement.

"The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander-in-Chief," the Senators write. "The buck stops there."

Clinton accepted responsibility for security lapses in the lead up to the terrorist attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans in an interview with CNN from Peru on Monday.

"I take responsibility," Clinton said. "I'm in charge of the State Department, 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts."

"The president and the vice president certainly wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals," she continued. "They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision."

The Republican Senators released their statement after the news of Clinton's remarks broke late Monday:

"We have just learned that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has claimed full responsibility for any failure to secure our people and our Consulate in Benghazi prior to the attack of Sept. 11, 2012. This is a laudable gesture, especially when the White House is trying to avoid any responsibility whatsoever.

"However, we must remember that the events of Sept. 11 were preceded by an escalating pattern of attacks this year in Benghazi, including a bomb that was thrown into our Consulate in April, another explosive device that was detonated outside of our Consulate in June, and an assassination attempt on the British Ambassador. If the President was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the President informed. But if the President was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the events of September 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any security failures that occurred. The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander-in-Chief. The buck stops there.

"Furthermore, there is the separate issue of the insistence by members of the Administration, including the President himself, that the attack in Benghazi was the result of a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video, long after it had become clear that the real cause was a terrorist attack. The President also bears responsibility for this portrayal of the attack, and we continue to believe that the American people deserve to know why the Administration acted as it did."