U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday that she takes the responsibility for the security failure at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi after last month’s violent attack that killed four U.S. nationals, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
"I take responsibility for what happened on Sept. 11," Clinton said in an interview with CNN in Peru. In an attempt to soften the attack by the Republican Party on President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden over the incident, she added that the White House was not responsible for the day-to-day security of the U.S. diplomatic missions abroad.
Her comments come ahead of the second presidential campaign debate between Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, as the issue has become a hot topic in the U.S. presidential campaign with Romney using the Benghazi attack to undermine Obama’s foreign policy record.
"I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world," Clinton said.
"The president and the vice president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision," she said, according to Reuters.
The Republicans have exploited the differing accounts given by the Obama administration following the incident, and they have questioned the credibility of Obama’s foreign policy.
The White House had initially said the attack was not pre-meditated and was a reaction to an anti-Muslim film made in the U.S., but it later said it was a terrorist attack.
In two television interviews, Clinton said that the shift in stance was because of "the fog of war."
"Remember, this was an attack that went on for hours," Clinton told Fox News. "There had to be a lot of sorting out. ... Everyone said, here's what we know, subject to change."
The Republicans had stepped up the criticism on the Obama administration over the issue, stating that enough security was not provided to the U.S. diplomatic missions abroad despite such a demand from the consulates.
For Romney and the Republicans, the Benghazi attacks serve as his best tool to dent Obama’s foreign policy record, which was strong on account of the successful assasination of Osama bin Laden, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and the drawing down of troops in Afghanistan.
Clinton tried her best to cover the president and the Vice President in her interviews and said that she wants to prevent a blame game on the issue ahead of the elections.
"What I want to avoid is some kind of political 'gotcha' or blame game going on," Clinton told CNN.
"I don't think we want to get into any blame game. I think what we want to do is get to the bottom of what happened, figure out what we're going to do to protect people and prevent it from happening again and then track down whoever did this and bring them to justice."
Four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, were killed in the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission on Sept. 11. Both President Obama and Clinton have declared a full investigation over the incident.