Hillary Clinton suggested in the Senate hearing today that lack of access to funds may have contributed to security deficiencies in Libya — a claim that then-State Department official Charlene Lamb explicitly rejected in a November congressional hearing.
“With respect to helping the Libyans …we will provide a list of everything we were doing and were attempting to do,” Clinton said, “but I will also tell you that since March 2011, Congressional holds have been placed on programs for many months for aid to Libya. We’ve had frequent Congressional complaints, why are we doing anything for Libya, it’s a wealthy country” that has oil resources.
“So we got to get our act together between the administration and the Congress, “Clinton continued, “If this is a priority and if we are serious about trying to help this government stand up security and deal with what is a very dangerous environment from east to west, then we have to work together.”
Clinton stressed that the nation could both afford to boost the economy and provide funds for international security.
“I am one who believes that we have to both walk and chew gum at the same time. We have to deal with our own economy and other fiscal situation,” Clinton remarked. “That is a given because that is the source of our strength and our capacity. But we also have to be smart about making the right investments in diplomacy and development to try to solve problems and prevent them. So you know, I have outlined what should be a no-brainer: Let us have the permission to take money we already have.”
However, in November, Lamb was asked about whether funding had been an issue and said it hadn’t been. From my report then:
“It has been suggested that budget cuts are responsible for a lack of security in Benghazi, and I’d like to ask Miss Lamb,” said Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R., Calif.). “You made this decision personally. Was there any budget consideration and lack of budget which lead you not to increase the number of people in the security force there?”
“No, sir,” said Lamb.