The Rachel Maddow Show | January 23, 2013
>>> the serena hotel in kabul , afghanistan , is one of the nicer, higher-end hotels in that war-torn capital. it's got lots of security and western-style amenities, or so i hear. it is located right near the city center in kabul . but before it was called the serena hotel , it was called the kabul hotel. and in 1979 , adolph dubbs, the american ambassador at the time was taken hostage at the hotel. the american ambassador was taken hostage. there was a standoff, and i'm sorry to say that ambassador dubbs was killed. he was shot multiple times and ultimately buried at arlington national cemetery . the united states did not have another ambassador sent to afghanistan for more than 20 years after that. ambassador dubs was killed on valentine's day in 1979 , february 1979 . later that year, in november 1979 , more than 60 americans were taken hostage in tehran . the americans were taken hostage when a mob of militant students stormed the united states embassy in tehran . they fought the marines on guard there for hours. the americans were held hostage after the embassy for 444 days . that was later in 1979 . in 1983 , at the u.s. embassy in beirut in lebanon, a car bomb targeting the embassy killed 63 people, including 17 americans . it was a 2,000-pound bomb that just decimated the embassy building in beirut . this is what the embassy looked like before the bombing. this is what it looked like after the bombing the next day. in 1987 , in rome, a man detonated a car bomb outside the u.s. embassy in rome. he launch rocket-propelled grenades from a nearby hotel room . in 1988 , the american military attache in athens was killed outside his home by a car bomb . he was in his armor plated car about to leave for work when the bomb went off, he was killed, the armored vehicle was destroyed. it was no match for the explosives. 1995 , another grenade attack at a u.s. embassy . a man standing in a driveway launched the grenade at the embassy . it did penetrate one of the walls at the moscow embassy . nobody was injured in that attack. scared probably, but not injured. 1998 at the u.s. embassy in kenya and the u.s. embassy in tanzania, two huge bombs exploded almost simultaneously. four minutes and 450 miles apart. hundreds of people killed, including 12 americans . the person responsible for those attacks was osama bin laden . after the u.s. embassy attacks in kenya and tanzania, the fbi put bin laden on their ten most wanted list. secretary of state madeleine albright escorted home the bodies of 10 of the 12 americans who were killed in those attacks. since 1970 , not a year has gone by where there has not been some sort of violent attack against u.s. diplomats and diplomatic facilities around the world. not all of them are deadly, but they happen all the time, year after year after year. and nobody is more aware of that than whoever is the secretary of state at the time. and our secretary of state right now is hillary clinton . who was on capitol hill today to testify about the latest deadly attack on u.s. diplomats. the attack in benghazi .
>> benghazi joins a long list of tragedies for our department, for other agencies, and for america. hostages taken in tehran in 1979 , our embassy and marine barracks bombed in beirut in 1983 , khobar towers in saudi arabia in 1996 . our embassies in east africa in 1998 . consulate staff murdered in jetta in 2004 . the khost attack and many others. i could give you a long list of attacks averted, the kinds our security specialists are engaged in. i have a lot of confidence in them, but we're going to do what we can to make sure that they get the support within our bureaucracy that they deserve out on the ground protecting our diplomats.
>> in the middle of what ended up being a riveting, combative hearing today, as republicans tried to find some political advantage over the obama administration, over hillary clinton in particular over the attack in benghazi , what ended up looming unexpectedly large over these proceedings was how benghazi is not an unprecedented thing. the state department has had its personnel and its facilities in danger and facing different kinds of attack over and over and over and over again for decades all over the world. and the attempted political acrimony of today's hearing ended up kind of dead-ending today whenever secretary clinton would bring back what congress does not see as a priority does not see the safety that work at the state department and the resources to ensure that safety. and yes, there is a political agenda to be driven, always, always. but in terms of steps necessary to protect people, so far hillary clinton made the case today that congress has been against it, specifically right now, members of the republican-controlled house have been against it.
>> we have asked the congress to help us real locate funds. the senate has given us that authority. we don't yet have it from the house , so that we can get more marine guard. we can get more diplomatic security guards . the senate was good enough to put into the senate version of the sandy supplemental. it did not get into the house side. so we're still looking for the house to act. currently, the house has holds on bilateral security assistance, on other kinds of support for anti-terrorism assistance. so we got to get our act together between the administration and the congress.
>> the cia has a black box budget, a secret budget that is at least partly secret, right, opaque, unquestionable. and even if we did know how big the intelligence budget was for the cia and the rest of the intelligence community in this country, rest assured that the only political impact of knowing that number is that someone in congress would insist that we double that number. the united states military has a budget so gargantuan that it roughly approximates the military budgets of all of our conceivable adversaries and major allies combined. the state department is the only part of the u.s. government that fields high-level personnel doing high security , high tension work in highly sensitive places around the globe alongside the intelligence and the military, except they, the state department employees are the ones who have to do it on a shoestring budget, whose budget and resources are minuscule in comparison and under pressure, under pressure compared to the other ways that americans serve long-terms abroad in dangerous places. the best hope for the state department ever getting its due in washington, ever upscaling its profile and its respect and its resources in washington was probably to put the biggest political star in the modern era of this country who is not a president in charge of that agency, right? the highest profile american woman in politics ever, a woman who transfixes the media and the political class wherever she goes. if the state department was ever going to get what it needed to protect its people to advance its mission, to assume its rightful place among the american mega agencies who do dangerous work around the globe, having hillary clinton be secretary of state was probably that moment. and today was a tour de force of hillary clinton fighting for that department in the kind of spotlight that only she can attract, fighting for it because her agency still isn't getting it, even after four years of her at the helm. and now she is due to leave. what are the prospects for state getting its due now that john kerry is about to take over? joining us now is andrea mitchell , nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent. and the host andrea mitchell reports on msnbc. thank you for being with me.
>> thank you.
>> to see hillary clinton talking to anybody gets news coverage. to see her going hand to hand with senator ron johnson of wisconsin is guaranteed to get a lot of attention. but what do you think was the most important take-away from this testimony today?
>> that she is a fighter, that they obviously, the republicans think that she is a likely candidate, because they were trying to muddy her up. i think that both partisans on both sides, the democrats congratulating her and a wink and a nod, we hope we see more of you and this isn't the last we'll see of you, and the republicans saying all the tough things they're saying about benghazi . there are, look, legitimate criticisms about benghazi , and the state department was devastated by the report, the independent action report, the review board that ambassador pickering and admiral mullen reported back. they very explicitly excused her for direct responsibility because all of these reports went below her level. and she had not been aware of the cables. and that's one of the things she was testifying to today. but she got, as you know, ron johnson and rand paul just fiercely criticizing her. and rand paul saying, you know, if he had been president, that he would have fired her for not knowing about these cables. that was pretty interesting stuff.
>> it's a remarkable window into how rand paul thinks of himself, for one.
>> it is indeed, isn't it? there is no shortage of egos on this committee.
>> well, hillary clinton used to be part of that committee. and that is one of the things that was fascinating today, talking to the members of that committee as somebody who had been there. and talking with them about what congress's responsibility for some of the things that they are trying to score political points on now. given that hillary clinton is one of the most high profile peoples in the world, one of the most high profile secretaries of state ever, how effective is her successor going to be, john kerry , if he is confirmed, at getting the state department adequately funded and getting it the sort of respect that she was demanding today?
>> well, he does have a great deal of gravitas with this committee. he chaired the committee up until today or tomorrow when he goes before the committee for his confirmation hearing and will be appearing before the new chairman, bob menendez , presented by hillary clinton , by the way. so technically that will be her last appearance, and certainly will be a more jeanial one than the one she experienced today, more than five hours before both the senate and the house . and the house was more fierce against her than the senate. but not by a whole lot. but he as the chairman, the former chairman, and she was on armed services actually. so she was a senator, but she didn't know all the ins and outs of their funding. she does now. and she has managed to restore some and hold the line against deeper cuts because of her celebrity and popularity. but kerry is not one to be toyed with either. and he's actually done a number of missions, secret and otherwise for this president. he knows the ropes. it's the job he has wanted forever. so i would not look at him too lightly. i think that he is a very experienced diplomat and has got a lot of chops.
>> when president obama was first inaugurated, one of the things that he talked about in terms of american power around the globe, and he was back stopped in a big way by both hillary clinton and by bob gates , who was initial secretary of defense was this idea that state department needs to grow in esteem, that the military has what it needs effectively in terms of resources, that they don't see themselves as having an enemy in the world on capitol hill , but that the state department needs to grow in order to exert that kind of american power that can only be exerted by people who don't have guns, rather than asking the military to do so much more than it's ever been asked to do. if that is an overall project of the obama administration, have they made any progress toward that yet? and do you think they will continue to make that progress?
>> i don't think they've made progress in that regard. i think in both iraq and afghanistan where they were supposed to do take over for the military in iraq and in afghanistan , doing these civilian projects, these have not worked as they had been imagined. you've got the largest embassy in the world in baghdad, and it is largely populated with contractors. so we've grown the contractors, the private security people, but not the diplomats that are needed. and it's not safe enough for them to go to many of these places, certainly not in afghanistan . so they have not accomplished that civilian takeover of the military functions that have been imagined.
>> andrea mitch, nbc news chief foreign affairs correspondent, host of andrea mitchell reports at 1:00 here on msnbc.
>> thanks for the shout out.
>> thank you. i really appreciate you being here.
>> you bet.
>>> all right. all of you looking forward to a self-inflicted worldwide economic meltdown, have i