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Clinton defends Benghazi response

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday defended her handling of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that killed four Americans, an event that threatens to stain her legacy at the State Department. Speaking in congressional testimony delayed by more than a month because of her ill health, Clinton offered her first detailed accounting of the first days after the attack, saying she directed the U.S. response from the State Department. "I take responsibility," Clinton said, echoing comments she first made in a TV interview on Oct. 15 and stressing that she has accepted all of the recommendations of an independent review panel that ultimately held lower-level officials responsible. "Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger and more secure," she added. Militants attacked and overwhelmed the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 in a sustained assault that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Clinton said that the issue was personal to her, that she had stood next to U.S. President Barack Obama on the day that the coffins of those killed were returned to the United States. The attack could haunt Clinton - who is expected to step down in the coming days once her designated successor, Senator John Kerry, is confirmed by the U.S. Senate - should she decide to run again for president in 2016, a possibility she has played down.

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