Top State Dept. Official Defends Benghazi Actions

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WASHINGTON - More than a year after four Americans were killed in Libya, lawmakers in Washington finally got to grill a ranking official who supervises the State Department's facilities, including the ill-fated mission in Benghazi at the time of the attack in September 2012.

Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy defended his actions while in the hot seat at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. He also beat back attacks against President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"What I know that the president did was to say to the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 'Do everything that you can,'" Kennedy said.

But Republicans believe a massive cover-up has occurred, and they're working to crack that cover-up wide open.

"To break down what I consider a wall of deceit and denial in an effort to hide the truth from the American people about this Benghazi attack," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said.

But Democrats shot back saying Republicans are only interested in scoring political points. Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., referenced the embassy attacks in Lebanon during the 1980s.

"I was on the Senate committee staff when the tragedy of Lebanon occurred where our embassy blew up not once, but twice on Ronald Reagan's watch," Connolly recalled. "I don't remember people calling for heads to roll."

Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., called Benghazi "the scandal that never was."

But Republicans kept up their harsh questioning throughout the two-hour plus hearing.

"It is indeed pathetic that still no one has been held accountable for the disastrous decisions that were made at the State Department before, during, and after this terrorist attack," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said.

Another House hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Witnesses at the Oversight and Government Reform Committee include those who released a report essentially clearing the State Department of the attack and relatives who lost family members at Benghazi.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.