Clinton, Sen. Johnson spar over Libya attack claims

File photos: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Clinton, Sen. Johnson spar over Libya attack claims

By the WTMJ News Team and the Associated Press. CREATED Jan 23, 2013

Scroll down to watch a video of Clinton and Johnson's emotional discussion about the Benghazi attack issue.

WASHINGTON - The Secretary of State and a GOP senator from Wisconsin got into a verbal argument over claims that the Obama administration misled the American people over attacks at the U.S. Consulate in Libya.

Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in the attacks, which happened on Sept. 11, 2012.

Senator Ron Johnson pressed Clinton about the initial account of the Libya attack from Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

She said the attack stemmed from a protest over a video.

Clinton challenged the GOP focus on Rice's comments, which were based on intelligence talking points.

"We were misled that there were supposedly protests, and something sprang out of that," said Johnson. 

"That was easily ascertained that it was not the fact.  The American people could have known that within days, and they didn't know that."

"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? What difference, at this point, does it make?" said a clearly exasperated Clinton told Johnson.

"It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator."

She insisted that "people were trying in real time to get to the best information," and that her focus was on looking ahead on how to improve security rather than revisiting the talking points and Rice's television appearance.

"I wasn't trying to get under her skin.  I was trying to get a relatively simple question answered, that she didn't want to answer," said Johnson on Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Midday with Charlie Sykes.

"This administration continues to hide behind the FBI investigation, the accountability review board report that took 60 days that happened to fall out after the election.  They're hiding behind that."

Clinton said the department is implementing the 29 recommendations of an independent review board that harshly criticized the department as well as going above and beyond the proposals, with a special focus on high-threat posts.

Click below to watch the video, provided by the Washington Post.