SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Ambassador Chris Stevens’ stepfather said Wednesday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has reached out to his family to offer her sympathies about the deadly Sept. 11 raid on the consulate in Libya that killed his stepson, but offered them no privileged information about the adequacy of diplomatic security.
As Clinton testified before Congress about the department’s missteps leading up to the assault at the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, the family avoided discussions of how to keep diplomats safe and focused instead on Clinton’s personal efforts to express her regrets through meetings and missives.
“We’re very aware of her sympathy because of our contact with her and the way she has connected with us,” said Stevens’ stepfather Bob Commanday, of Oakland. “It’s a tragedy and nothing that is said or done can bring him back, so we are just going on with life.”
In her last formal congressional testimony on Capitol Hill as America’s top diplomat on Wednesday, Clinton once again took full responsibility for the State Department’s shortfalls preceding the evening attack that killed Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans.
Her voice cracking at one point, Clinton said the experience was highly personal and insisted that the department was moving swiftly and aggressively to strengthen security at U.S. missions worldwide.
Commanday said he had not yet heard Clinton’s testimony, but said the family has avoided commenting on diplomatic security leading up to the attack that killed his stepson.
“We have always totally avoided this discussion about the adequacy, inadequacy, blame, whatever, of the situation that happened because we only know what we read in the paper and we have no privileged information,” Commanday said in a telephone interview. “We have no role in this. We are victims.”
Stevens, 52, grew up in a family of doctors and lawyers in Piedmont near Oakland, and showed an early interest in foreign policy. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1982, and learned Arabic when he subsequently volunteered for the Peace Corps as an English teacher in a remote village in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains.
After earning a law degree at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law in 1989, he joined the foreign service with early postings in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel and Egypt. He was dispatched to Benghazi during heavy fighting in April 2011 to set up an office to work with the Libyan opposition.
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