By Jill Dougherty
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is coordinating with the U. S. Defense Department to monitor where forces are deployed in case they are needed to quickly come to the defense of U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world.
A senior State Department official told reporters traveling with Clinton in Southeast Asia that she "has been getting regular briefings from the assistant to the chairman, a three-star admiral who travels with us ... who she's tasked with staying on top of where relevant forces are positioned to be able to come to the aid of our State Department facilities if that is ever required."
The move comes in the midst of congressional hearings that have criticized the Obama administration for not moving quickly enough to rescue the American ambassador to Libya and other U.S. personnel who were killed in the September 11 assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.
The official said the secretary is "focused on ensuring the safety and security of American diplomatic missions overseas, particularly in the region." Three investigations into the Benghazi attack currently are under way: an FBI investigation, a congressional investigation and a State Department Accountability Review Board.
The official also said that Clinton, during her trip, is consulting with the White House National Security Council on events in Gaza and is continuing to talk by telephone with her foreign counterparts, coordinating her calls with those made by President Barack Obama.
"She be making further calls today to the Qatari Prime Minister-Foreign Minister (same person), Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, and has spoken with Foreign Minister (Avigdor) Lieberman in Israel, twice with Egyptian Foreign Minister (Mohamed Kamel) Amr, and with King Abdullah of Jordan."
The official said the secretary and other U.S. officials "are working overtime to try to have the other key regional actors bring their influence to bear to allow the situation to de-escalate."