LIMA, Peru -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is answering Republican criticism of the Obama administration's handling of last month's attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, saying she - not the White House - is responsible for security at all of America's diplomatic missions.
"I take responsibility," Clinton told CNN. "I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world (at) 275 posts."
With only weeks before the presidential election, outrage has crystallized around Vice President Joe Biden's claim in last week's debate with Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan that "we weren't told" about requests for extra security at the consulate where assailants killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Congressional hearings revealed that the State Department was aware of, and rejected, several requests for increased security in Benghazi. Spokesmen for both the State Department and the White House took pains Friday to make clear that Biden's "we" referred to the White House, where such requests would not go.
Clinton backed up Biden's assertion. "The president and the vice president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals," she said Monday.
Clinton told Fox News Channel that "the decisions about security are made by security professionals. But we're going to review everything to be sure we're doing what needs to be done in an increasingly risky environment."
There are three separate investigations into the attack going on now: an FBI probe into the deaths of the four Americans, an independent inquiry by a panel appointed by Clinton and the congressional hearings.
Initial reports attributed the cause of the violent attack as one of a number of spontaneous demonstrations in several Muslim countries over a film produced in the U.S. that denigrated the Prophet Muhammad. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, insisted in on a number of Sunday talk shows that the investigation up to that point showed no indication of a planned attack. Within days, the White House reversed its position, saying new findings indicated the attack was intentional and coordinated.