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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has angrily defended Wedndesday her handling of the raid on a US consulate in Libya, in back-to-back hearings on Capitol Hill, the BBC reported. Mrs Clinton lashed out at a senator who accused the Obama administration of misleading the public. She took responsibility for security failures that led to the 11 September attack but said she had not seen requests for more security beforehand. It was her last appearance at Congress as America’s top diplomat. “Nobody is more committed to getting this right,” Mrs Clinton told the Senate foreign relations committee. “I am determined to leave the state department and our country safer, stronger and more secure,” she added.She was questioned about the raid on 11 September last year on the US consulate in Benghazi that left the US envoy to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other officials dead. The ambassador died of smoke inhalation when he was trapped in the burning consulate building, after armed men stormed the compound. The assault triggered a major political row over who knew what and when. The incident became an issue in the presidential campaign, and outrage in Congress led the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, to withdraw from the race to succeed Mrs Clinton. Last November, Ms Rice admitted releasing incorrect information after the Benghazi attack – she said on a Sunday chat show on 16 September that the attack had stemmed from an anti-US protest. Ms Rice later said there had been no attempt to mislead the public, but Republicans were unconvinced. At the Senate hearing, Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, said: “We were misled that there were supposedly protests and then something sprang out of that, an assault sprang out of that.” Mrs Clinton replied with a raised voice: “But with all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans – was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans.” Thumping the table four times, she added: “What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator.” In another tense moment, Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said Mrs Clinton’s acknowledgement that she had not read the cables from Libya seeking additional security ahead of the attack was “inexcusable”. “Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables,” he said, “I would have relieved you of your post.” Mrs Clinton told the senators her department was implementing – as well as going above and beyond – 29 recommendations by an independent panel that investigated the incident. Earlier, Mrs Clinton’s voice cracked with emotion as she described the moment she and President Barack Obama welcomed home the coffins of those killed in the Benghazi attacks.
Britons urged to leave Libyan city of Benghazi over ‘threat’
British nationals should leave the Libyan city of Benghazi immediately “in response to a specific threat to Westerners”, the Foreign Office said Thursday, according to the BBC. It said the British Embassy in Tripoli had been in contact with British nationals whose details it had. It said it could not comment further on the nature of the threat, but said there was new travel advice for Libya. The Foreign Office has been advising against travel to Benghazi and most parts of Libya since September. The BBC says that after the recent French military intervention in Mali there was the possibility of retaliatory attacks against Western interests.