Clinton on Benghazi: We all had the same intel

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to CBS News' Margaret Brennan in Lima, Peru, Oct. 15, 2012.
CBS News

Last Updated 9:23 a.m. ET

(CBS News) For the first time, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is speaking in depth about the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and the questions surrounding how the attacks were characterized by administration officials in the days after the consulate attack.

Just five days after the Benghazi attack in which four Americans were killed, U.S. Ambassasdor to the United Nations Susan Rice appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation." She blamed the violence on spontaneous protests over an anti-Muslim film, saying "we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned."

It was one of several TV appearances Rice made that day.

CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan asked Clinton if she approved Rice's speaking points that she delivered on the TV shows that day.


"I think she very clearly said, 'Here's what we know now, but this is going to change,'" Clinton said. "This is what we have at present but it will evolve - and the intelligence community has said the same thing."

Clinton said she did not speak to Rice prior to her Sunday talk show appearances, but added that, "Everyone had the same information. ... I have to say I know there's been a lot of attention paid to who said what but I think what happened is more important. We were attacked and four brave Americans were killed. Everyone in the administration has tried to say what we knew at the time with the caveat that we would learn more and that's what happened. So I think that I've seen it before not just in respect to this. I think it's part of what the 'fog of war' causes."

A spokesperson for Rice told CBS News that she was given those speaking points by the intelligence community, not by the State Department.

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Over time, the Obama administration changed its characterization of the attacks, calling it a planned terrorist assault - fueling Republican charges of a political cover-up.

On "Face the Nation" last Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said of the Obama administration: "Either they are misleading the American public, or they are incredibly incompetent."

It came up again at last week's debate, when Vice President Joe Biden said, "At the time we were told exactly, we said exactly what the intelligence community told us that they knew. That was the assessment.

"And as the intelligence community changed their view, we made it clear they changed their view."

Clinton cautioned against making premature assumptions about the security situation at Benghazi.

"I don't want us to reach any conclusions about what we did or didn't do without the full context. I understand why people want to ask questions, but I just caution that we need to look at everything, and everything needs to be explained at the same time," Clinton said. "

"We have 275 posts around the world. We have more than 60,000 people. We live in a dangerous, risky environment today in many places around the world, and we are constantly calculating - particularly led by our security professionals - about what needs to be done, where assets need to be."

Clinton has said the responsibility for diplomatic security ends with the State Department.

"I'm not going to get into the blame game," she told Brennan. "I think intelligence is very hard to do and what we're going to find out as we do this accountability review and we get what will be the best possible chronology, that will be attached to what we knew when, which takes time. I understand the, you know, the anxiety and the desire to try to get answers. Nobody wants to get answers more than I do."

A spokesperson for Ambassador Rice told CBS News that she was given those speaking points by the intelligence community, not by the State Department.