Rubio: “It’s not just about assigning blame, it’s about figuring out what went wrong internally so that this never happens again. … Only one of two things could have happened. Either the information didn’t get where it needed to go or the information got where it needed to go, but the response was not appropriate. Both are bad.”Senator Marco Rubio
Excerpts of Interview with FOX News’ Greta Van Susteren
January 23, 2013
Full interview available here: http://youtu.be/VmkusstT9hI
Senator Marco Rubio: “The part that I wanted to focus in on was how information flows within the State Department. How is it possible that you have meetings with the Prime Minister, you visit Libya, and the issue of security of the consulate isn’t raised to a level of alert? How is it possible that you’re the sitting Secretary of State and your staff isn’t coming to you and saying we have a problem, there’s been 200 attacks, the Brits have pulled out of Benghazi? How is it possible that there weren’t meetings convened specifically about this topic, given all the flow of information? The answer is that either those meetings did happen or they didn’t, and we’ve got a problem within the State Department in terms of how information flows. So to me, it’s not just about assigning blame. It’s about figuring out what went wrong internally so that this never happens again.”
Van Susteren: “Did you get that answer?”
Rubio: “Well, I think what we found out was that Secretary Clinton met with the Prime Minister and the issue of security was touched, but not deeply. Again I don’t understand how that’s possible.”
Van Susteren: “Was that in October of 2011 when she was in Libya or was that?”
Rubio: “Both. In October of 2011, she visited Libya, and then again in March of 2012 the Prime Minister came to Washington, and on both occasions she admitted she talked to him about security and the security situation. So clearly there was awareness at that level, at the secretary level of the Department of State, that we have a serious security problem that we were counting on militias, for example, to provide for the consulate or to provide in Benghazi, what normally is the responsibility of an organized government to do. And I think that’s what she kind of told us today. In fact I think in her answer to one of my questions she said that these militias in the past have proven reliable. I think in hindsight obviously that’s not the case.
“But again, the point is that if you take the totality of the questions that were asked, here’s what’s very clear. You had all this information coming in from different sources to the State Department that basically said Libya is dangerous, Benghazi in particular is dangerous. In fact, it’s so dangerous that other countries have pulled their missions out. But the United States did not respond to that with sufficient enough security or an extraction plan to get our people out of there. And at the end of the day, that’s just bad decision making.”
Van Susteren: “She said a couple times, both here and I think on the House side that one of the problems the State Department was having is that they had either asked for money and it had not been authorized, but that there was some sort of financial bind. Or she wanted to transfer from one particular area of the State Department to another and that there were impediments doing that. Was she correct that they had been underfunded for security?”
Rubio: “Well, two separate issues. As far as money that’s already been allocated, there are impediments to that money being moved from one use to another, and we need to look at that. I’m not sure that makes sense to do that. The money’s already been allocated. But the second part is they don’t have enough money for security. Well again, here’s what happened. You have these requests for security. No one came to the Hill and said, 'We have these specific risks in Libya, Libya’s very dangerous and we’re going to have to close down the Benghazi place unless you provide more money for security there.'
“Look, at the end of the day it’s about resource allocation. The truth is they didn’t believe that they needed more upgrades in Benghazi. In fact, if you look at some of the statements they make in the early hours and the early days after the attack, they talked about how heavily fortified it was, how much security they’d invested in there. So they bragged about how much they had put in there initially. Now in hindsight, it’s clear they didn’t have nearly enough. So that wasn’t their posture at the time. Their posture at the time was not give us more money or something really bad is going to happen. It may be their posture now in hindsight. Ultimately this is a time of limited resources, but they clearly didn’t press the case that we were in danger of something like this happening.”
Van Susteren: “Was she candid?”
Rubio: “She tried to answer to the questions that were asked. I think time will tell, you know, time will tell whether some things she said bared out to be true or not. I mean these things have a way of flushing themselves out. To say the opposite, I’m not going to sit here and accuse the secretary of lying. I’m going to tell you I’m concerned about some of her answers. The reason why I’m concerned about some of her answers is I still do not understand how it can be that a high profile place like Libya, with the amount of dangerous situations out of there already occurred, with all the information coming into the government to the U.S., that in Libya not only was it a dangerous place – Benghazi in particular was dangerous – and that there were Islamist fundamentalist radical elements that were organizing and training in the vicinity.
“That with all of that out there someone didn’t look at all that and say, 'We have a problem we need to address very quickly. We need to provide more security for the consulate. Perhaps maybe even close it for a period of time. We need to have a military asset on standby to extract people.' Why there weren’t more resources pressed? She was clearly aware that Libya was a very dangerous place, and I think as time goes on we are going to learn more about who knew what.
“Here is what I don’t believe. I don’t believe that the only people who were aware of what a bad situation it was were the mid-level people that resigned. I think it was clear from her testimony today that she as aware of how Libya was, although obviously she says that there was no way she could have known it would turn into this.”
Van Susteren: “If I get right from what you said, it’s that your main concern was the process of information, and to make sure we find out what happened, how it happened, so it doesn’t happen again.”
Rubio: “Only one of two things could have happened. Either the information didn’t get where it needed to go or the information got where it needed to go, but the response was not appropriate. Both are bad.”
Van Susteren: “And we investigate that so it doesn’t happen again?”
Van Susteren: “There was some questioning, not by you - by others - about Ambassador Rice and about how the administration disseminated information in the hours and days and weeks that followed. Do you have any problem or any question about this and why is that important now?”
Rubio: “Well, it is important for two reasons. Number one, I knew other senators were going to handle those questions and they did a very good job of raising that issue. John McCain made a great point today when he said ‘people don’t bring RPGs and they don’t bring the kind of weaponry that was used in this attack to a spontaneous demonstration.’ But here is why it is relevant. Because the Secretary went today and said, ‘Why does this matter?’
“Here is why it matters. Because when they put out word that this was not a terrorist attack - that it sprung out a spontaneous uprising – it furthered the narrative that somehow Al Qaeda was in disarray. That the elimination of Bin Laden had made this extraordinary reduction in the risks in the area. As it turns out, not only was that not true in Libya but we are now seeing it’s not true in other parts of North Africa as well. And the fundamental question is, ‘Did the administration really believe that?’ Because if they did, they badly miscalculated. Or did they know it wasn’t true but for political reasons did not want that narrative out there? In essence, their narrative was that they were winning the war on terror, they were eliminating these groups and they were no longer capable of carrying attacks against the U.S. It was one or the other. Either they were wrong – they assessed wrong that radical terrorist were not capable of carrying out an attack - or they knew that they could but they didn’t want to admit it because it went against their political narrative during an election season. So it’s one of those two and we aren’t happy with either one.”