TEL AVIV — As he prepares to make his debut on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Rand Paul says he plans on grilling Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the attacks that killed four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, when she testifies at his first committee next week. “I think she has to accept responsibility for Benghazi,” Paul told Business Insider during his recent trip to Israel. “That’s the problem with government — government is anonymous and so no one is accountable. The reason you want somebody to be accountable is that you don’t want someone to make that decision again.”
“She needs to be held accountable for it, and I think she needs to answer questions for it,” he said.
Paul added that he plans on demanding Clinton explain what she knew about the deteriorating security situation in Libya and provide details about who denied requests for additional security personnel at the consulate in Benghazi.
“In government, there is usually an incentive to overspend when it comes to security,” he said. “You’re in charge of security in Benghazi and someone asks you for a 16-person detail — and the security people on the ground in Libya are asking you for it — it’s impossible to say no. So how did someone possibly say no to that security? That’s an incredible ineptness.”
“It was an enormous mistake,” he added. “It was a career-ending mistake, I think.”
Paul’s outrage over the lack of security funding in Libya is surprising, given the Kentucky libertarian’s opposition to almost all government spending and non-interventionist brand of foreign policy. Paul’s office insists that there is no contradiction, however, telling Business Insider that “while Senator Paul believes there is plenty of waste and unnecessary items in the State Department budget, security is not necessarily one of them.”
Still, Paul is likely to use the hearing to promote his plan for cutting foreign aid to Libya until the country turns over those responsible for the consulate attacks. That proposal has gotten little traction in the Senate despite Paul’s efforts to push it through with nomination holds and amendments to unrelated bills.
In the end, Clinton’s hearing will probably fail to deliver the public retribution that conservatives like Paul have hoped for. Top Senate Republicans have indicated they will go easy on Clinton, who is still recovering from a recent illness and is set to leave the Obama administration later this month anyway.
But Paul’s posturing sets the stage for intriguing political dynamics on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Clinton testifies before Congress next week. As a prospective 2016 presidential candidate, Paul will be grilling a potential White House rival, as will Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another possible GOP presidential contender.
On top of that, Paul will sit alongside fellow new SFRC member Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has vehemently opposed Paul on nearly every foreign policy issue.
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