U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she takes responsibility for security at the American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, where Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in an attack last month.
"I take responsibility," Mrs. Clinton said in a recent interview in her office. "I'm the Secretary of State with 60,000-plus employees around the world. This is like a big family…It's painful, absolutely painful."
On Monday, in Lima, Peru, she also told television interviewers that she accepts the blame, adding that security at America's diplomatic missions overseas is her job, not that of the White House.
Her comments come as Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, criticize the Obama administration for its handling of the security before the attack by extremists and its explanations afterward.
She also spoke in advance of the second presidential debate, which will occur Tuesday night. Both security arrangements in Benghazi and the administration's differing explanations of whether the attack was the result of mob violence caused by an anti-Muslim video or a calculated terrorist strike were the subject of disagreement in last week's debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee. At the debate, Mr. Biden said the White House wasn't aware of requests for additional security at diplomatic installations in Libya, an account that Mrs. Clinton's remarks appear to confirm.
In her comments to CNN in Peru, Mrs. Clinton said President Barack Obama and Mr. Biden weren't involved in security decisions at the consulate in Benghazi.
"I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha
," she said.