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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faced Republican critics Monday as she testified before Congress about her department’s response to last year’s terror attacks on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi.
Among the more interesting digs hurled at the outgoing secretary of state came from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who pointed out no arrests have been made in connection with the attacks – save for “the filmmaker” – an allusion to the man behind the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims.
“Over and over again, it was repeated that we had enraged the Islamic terrorists,” Rohrabacher said of the attack’s aftermath. “When you say that we enraged the Islamic terrorists, that means we’re at fault. They’re not at fault. And then to look and see the only people I know that are in jail right now is the filmmaker. Isn’t this a little disconcerting?”
Clinton responded by saying she wanted to be clear that it was a terrorist question.
“There are still, however, questions about exactly what caused it, who the attackers were,” she said.
In the week following the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, officials — including White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice — suggested a 14-minute online video of Innocence of Muslims sparked a protest that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, among them U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
Republicans accused the Obama administration of failing to immediately label the incident a “terrorist attack,” and Rohrabacher’s questioning of Clinton on Monday suggested he thought the film had been used as a distraction by the administration.
The man behind Innocence of Muslims, Mark Basseley Youssef, was arrested in California several weeks after the attacks for violating his parole. He had been convicted of bank fraud in 2010 and in November of last year was sentenced to one year in prison for reasons unrelated to the film.
Youssef has touted Muslims as a two-hour epic painting Muhammad and Islam in bad light, but a full-length film has yet to materialize. According to the film’s actors, they were not told Muslims was designed to insult Islam. They said some their lines were dubbed over with offensive dialogue.
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