Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Ambassador Christopher Stevens was responsible for his own security decision-making ahead of the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack that cost him and three other Americans their lives, as she delivered public testimony Thursday to the congressional committee tasked with getting to the bottom of the assault.

While taking responsibility overall for their deaths and the security of the 70,000 other department employees, Mrs. Clinton deflected specific responsibility for the key decisions that led the U.S. to be in Benghazi in 2011 and 2012, and that led to Stevens being in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, when the diplomatic post there was assaulted by armed Islamic militants.

Mrs. Clinton said they were relying on Stevens to “make a lot of judgments on the ground” about his own safety and how long he needed to be in Benghazi, and she described his time there as equivalent to an expeditionary mission where he was essentially on his own, pioneering diplomacy in a dangerous region.

“We were really counting on Chris to guide us and give us information on the ground,” she said under stiff questioning from Rep. Susan Brooks, Indiana Republican, who said it appeared Mrs. Clinton lost focus on Benghazi in 2012, just as the situation deteriorated.

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