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Secretary Clinton On Benghazi Attack: 'I Take Responsibility'

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Update at 9:25 a.m ET. Clinton Again Takes Responsibility:

At the first of two congressional hearings today during which she's expected to face tough questions about last September's attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began by telling senators that "as I have said many times ... I take responsibility."

"Nobody is more committed to getting this right," the outgoing secretary also told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure."

The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans died in that attack. Critics, and an independent report, have concluded there was "grossly inadequate" security at the mission in Benghazi prior to the attack

We'll continue to monitor her appearances and update with highlights.

Meanwhile, here's our original post with more background:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a strong supporter of the U.S. involvement in Libya in 2011 that helped oust the country's long-time dictator, Moammar Gadhafi.

U.S. and NATO air power was seen as crucial in helping Libyan rebels topple Gadhafi, who was among several autocrats driven from power in the Arab uprisings.

But now, as Clinton prepares to depart her post, she goes before Congress on Wednesday to talk about the more recent upheavals in the region that haven't gone as planned.

Her testimony before separate Senate and House committees is set to focus on the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi. Libya.

Yet her appearance, which has been delayed by injury and illness, comes at a time when Algeria and Mali have also been rocked by unrest.

Islamist rebels, including some who previously fought for Gadhafi, have seized northern Mali. French troops have gone to Mali to support the government in the south, and the U.S. has provided planes to assist the French.

In addition, three Americans were among dozens killed when Islamist radicals seized hostages at a remote gas plant in eastern Algeria, near the Libyan border.

As NPR's Michele Kelemen reported on Morning Edition, "Secretary Clinton readily admits it has been difficult for the U.S. to gather intelligence in what she calls one of the most remote areas on the planet."

An independent panel found there was "grossly inadequate" security at the U.S. mission in Benghazi prior to the attack (an unclassified version of that report is posted here). One State Department official has resigned and three more are on administrative leave.

The attack also demonstrated how difficult it has been for Libya's new leaders to establish control over armed groups, a problem that's growing in the region.

As Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group told Morning Edition:

"You now have more jhadists who are free to roam around. Many have been released or escaped, broken out from prison. [They have] more access to lethal weapons, because weapons have been abudant in Libya in particular, but elsewhere as well, as these uprisings were taking place."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's hearing is set to start at 9 a.m. ET. The House Foreign Affairs Committee's session begins at 2 p.m. ET. C-SPAN plans to webcast the hearings here. We will update later with highlights.

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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