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Congress Holds First Hearing on U.S. Consulate Attack in Libya

Washington, DC
Wednesday, October 10, 2012

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed September 11th in an assault on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Wednesday, the full House Oversight and Government Reform Committee meets to detail the security situation leading up to the attack.

U.S. officials believe Stevens, a career diplomat who worked with the Libyan resistance before Qaddafi's overthrow, was killed by al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents who used the protest over an anti-Islamic film as cover for their assault on the U.S. Consulate compound.

The attack was just one of a series of assaults on foreign facilities in Libya. According to several foreign policy experts, pro-Qaddafi holdouts and violent insurgents are taking advantage of political instability to threaten Libya's slowly emerging democracy.

The murder of Ambassador Stevens highlights the deteriorating political situation in the North African country since the fall of Moammar Qaddafi.

In response to the attack, President Obama said the United States "condemns in the strongest terms this shocking attack." He also stated that diplomatic posts around the world will all increase security.

Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has called Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy to testify alongside Deputy Assistant Director for International Programs Charlene Lamb and Eric Nordstrom, the former State Department Regional Security Officer for Libya.

Later in the afternoon, Ambassador Patrick Kennedy came to the State Department Briefing room to answer questions regarding his testimony at the hearing. He reaffirmed that the State Department's version of events in Benghazi were based on the best intelligence available and that the information "evolved" over time.

When asked whether it was valuable to maintain the Benghazi consulate given the risks, Ambassador Kennedy said, "On the basis of the information we had at that point, it was worth the risk."

Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 7:05pm (ET)

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