A top State official acknowledged she had declined to approve more U.S. security as violence in Benghazi spiked, saying the department wanted to train Libyans to protect the consulate.
"I made the best decisions I could with the information I had," said Charlene R. Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary for diplomatic security.
Regardless of allegations of blame, there is no dispute over the tragic result. U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans - including two former Navy SEALs - were killed in what administration officials now describe as an act of terrorism.
In statements immediately after the attack, neither President Obama nor Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton mentioned terrorism. And both gave credence to the notion that the attack was related to protests about the privately made anti-Islam video.
"Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet," Clinton said on the night of the attack. Five days later, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said her best information at the time was that the attack stemmed from a protest that became violent.
President Obama, asked on ABC about the changing accounts of what instigated the attack, said the information was evolving.
"As information came in, information was put out, the information may not have always been right the first time," he said. "These are people I know, and if there is something to be fixed, it will get fixed."
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday that in hindsight "there is no question that the security was not enough to prevent that tragedy from happening. There were four Americans killed."
Lamb, the official in charge of protecting U.S. embassies and consulates, told the committee, "We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi at the time of 9/11."
Rep. Dan Burton (R., Ind.) asked Lamb if she turned down requests for more security in Benghazi.
"Yes sir, I said personally I would not support it," she replied. "We were training local Libyans and army men" to provide security, a policy in force at U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) retorted there was "as much as 30 percent turnover in the people you were training."
Eric Nordstrom, who was the top security official in Libya earlier this year, testified he was criticized for seeking more security. "There was no plan, and it was hoped it would get better," he said.