Republicans on House and Senate panels tried to pummel U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for actions before and after the Libyan terror attack.
But Clinton refused to give an inch and defended the administration's actions while conceding reforms were needed.
The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committe, Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., told Clinton, "Security was not a high priority" at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi where the ambassador and three other Americans were killed. "Security requests were denied."
Royce said the problem was not in the lack of funding, rather "the tragedy of Benghazi was rooted in poor security."
The chairman questioned why security assets were pulled from the region before the attack. Clinton said those assets were focused on the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, not the consulate in Benghazi.
Rep. Ieana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., pointed to news stories that said those department officials responsible for not passing on requests for more security to the highest levels were disciplined. But the stories about discipline were, "Not true!" Ros-Lehtinen said.
Clinton said "all four individuals have been removed from their jobs ... [and] placed on administrative leave." She said federal regulations forbid removing someone because of "unsatisfactory leadership" and urged Congress to change those regulations.
Democrats were more supportive. Rep. Eliot Engl, D-N.Y., said instead of engaging in "gotcha" politics the committee should be working for solutions.
"Clearly mistakes were made, but let's make one thing perfectly clear, Barack Obama was not responsible for the Benghazi attack, just as George bush was not responsible for the Sept. 11  attacks and Ronald Reagan was not responsible for the [1983 attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon]," Engl said.
He also raked Congress on funding.
"In the past two years alone, the administration's request for [security funding] has been cut by half-a-billion dollars," he said.
Earlier Wednesday, U.S. Sen. John McCain blasted the administration and Clinton for what he called a failure to help Libya fight terror during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the incident.
McCain, R-Ariz., said there were plenty of warnings leading up to the Sept. 11 attack on the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but "with all these warnings, we didn't have a single Defense Department" force to come to the aid of the consulate in the event of an attack.
"I categorically reject your answers [about the events leading up to the Benghazi attack and the U.S. response]. ... The American people deserve answers and they certainly don't deserve false answers," McCain said
Clinton told McCain they would have to disagree on the facts, but, "Since March 11 congressional holds have been placed for many months on aid to Libya. ... We've got to get our act together between the administration and the Congress."
The secretary also had to handle highly critical questions from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who said he would have fired Clinton if he had been president.
Clinton told the panel every crisis should not be turned into a political football, but everyone should "be smart about this" and seek to prevent such tragedies in the future.
Clinton also told the Senate panel Ambassador Susan Rice did not mislead the public about the Libyan terror attack.
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