Thursday, June 30, 2016

Family Of Ambassador Stevens Does NOT Blame Clinton

(This photo by Eric Rosberg / AP shows Dr. Anne Stevens speaking at her brother's memorial.)

The congressional Republicans have been playing politics with the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens for many months now -- hoping that they can hurt the presidential aspirations of Hillary Clinton (who was Secretary of State at the time Stevens died in Benghazi). They finally released their committee report this week, still trying to blame the Obama administration (and Clinton).

But the family of Ambassador Stevens doesn't agree. In an interview with The New Yorker, here's some of what Stevens' sister had to say. Dr. Anne Stevens (pictured above) has been acting as the family's spokesperson since the tragedy.

Whom do you fault for the lack of security that resulted in the death of your brother, in Benghazi?
It is clear, in hindsight, that the facility was not sufficiently protected by the State Department and the Defense Department. But what was the underlying cause? Perhaps if Congress had provided a budget to increase security for all missions around the world, then some of the requests for more security in Libya would have been granted. Certainly the State Department is underbudgeted.
I do not blame Hillary Clinton or Leon Panetta. They were balancing security efforts at embassies and missions around the world. And their staffs were doing their best to provide what they could with the resources they had. The Benghazi Mission was understaffed. We know that now. But, again, Chris knew that. It wasn’t a secret to him. He decided to take the risk to go there. It is not something they did to him. It is something he took on himself.
What did you learn from the two new reports by House Republicans and Democrats?
It doesn’t look like anything new. They concluded that the U.S. compound in Benghazi was not secure. We knew that.
What did you think of Secretary Clinton’s conduct on Benghazi?
She has taken full responsibility, being head of the State Department, for what occurred. She took measures to respond to the review board’s recommendations. She established programs for a better security system. But it is never going to be perfect. Part of being a diplomat is being out in the community. We all recognize that there’s a risk in serving in a dangerous environment. Chris thought that was very important, and he probably would have done it again. I don’t see any usefulness in continuing to criticize her. It is very unjust.
Are there any questions left in your mind about what happened, why the U.S. didn’t respond faster, why Washington didn’t do more?
The only questions that I have are not answerable by anyone investigated or questioned by the committee. My questions are about why the militiamen attacked the compound in the first place. What were their intentions? It’d be interesting to know that—and to hear what their views are and what they were thinking. It has nothing to do with what the State Department or the Defense Department was supposed to do that night. I think everyone did their very best in response to this event.
Do you think it’s fair to make Benghazi an election issue?
With the many issues in the current election, to use that incident—and to use Chris’s death as a political point—is not appropriate.
How would Chris have felt about this election?
I know he had a lot of respect for Secretary Clinton. He admired her ability to intensely read the issues and understand the whole picture.

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