Clinton on Libya: 'I Take Responsibility'

Clinton vowed to track down those behind the attack.

ByABC News
October 16, 2012, 2:58 AM

LIMA, Peru, Oct. 16, 2012— -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has accepted blame for the security lapses before the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

"I take responsibility," Clinton told CNN Monday in Lima, Peru. "I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts."

She added, "The president and the vice president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals."

Clinton also said that the United States had been aware that militants were regrouping in Libya and that they would attempt to re-establish bases.

"We also knew, aside from individuals and groups, there were so many militias that have formed and so many weapons," Clinton told ABC News Monday. "It was something we were focused on."

The United States now reportedly has special operations forces on standby in the region ready to strike suspected terrorists.

"We will track them down, whoever did this, and hold them accountable and bring them to justice," Clinton said. "Our track record is pretty good. Eventually, we will find you."

Congressional hearings last week revealed that the State Department was aware of, and rejected, several requests for increased security in Benghazi.

Republicans have called the attack and the subsequent administration response a failure.

Secretary Clinton Friday said the State Department is in the beginning stages of an internal investigation of the attack. She also said the FBI investigation is continuing, and that she is cooperating with both.

As for the status al Qaeda, Clinton told ABC News Monday, "It's absolutely fair to say the major leadership of al Qaeda including [Osama] bin Laden has been decimated. The core of al Qaeda has been severely damaged. There will be terrorists who continue to terrorize people and threaten the U.S. and our allies. We've never taken at all, our eye off the ball to keep going after extremists who pose a threat."

Meanwhile, as the situation in Syria deteriorates, there has been talk of a no-fly zone similar to the one established in Libya.

"This has been under discussion among allies," Clinton said. "There has been no decision made but everyone knows what the Assad regime is doing is a brutal assault on the people. We need a clear commitment of support to the opposition inside Syria and outside."