WASHINGTON After a month's delay for health reasons, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify before a congressional committee on January 23 to answer questions about the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.
Clinton was originally due to appear before the committee on December 20 but had to cancel after she suffered a concussion when she fainted due to dehydration. Doctors later found she had a blood clot in her head and hospitalized her for several days.
Lawmakers want to question Clinton about the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on September 11 last year, and ask about the adequacy of security in foreign posts.
Republican Representative Ed Royce, chair of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said he wants Clinton to explain why the attack was not better anticipated and what failures or deficiencies need to be corrected to properly protect U.S. diplomats and diplomatic facilities.
"It is important to learn all we can about what happened in Benghazi because at the end of the day, it could happen again. After all, al-Qaeda plans attacks over and over again," Royce said in a statement.
The attack in Benghazi, the first to kill a U.S. ambassador in the line of duty since 1979, resulted in sharp criticism of the State Department. An independent inquiry last month found widespread failures in both security planning and internal management in the department. The State Department's top security officer resigned from his post and three other employees were relieved of their duties.
The controversy also cost Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, her chance to succeed Clinton as secretary of state.
Republicans in Congress harshly criticized Rice for her comments on several television talk shows in which she said the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi appeared to be the result of a spontaneous demonstration rather than a planned assault.
Even though Clinton publicly accepted overall responsibility for Benghazi and the safety and security of U.S. diplomats overseas, Rice eventually withdrew her name from consideration for the top diplomatic job.
(Reporting by Deborah Charles; editing by Christopher Wilson)