* Illness interrupts her final weeks as U.S. top diplomat
* Two deputies to testify on Benghazi findings in her place
* High popularity fuels speculation on 2016 aspirations
By Andrew Quinn
WASHINGTON, Dec 15 Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, who canceled an overseas trip last weekend because of
illness, suffered a concussion after fainting due to
dehydration, prompting the postponement of her scheduled
congressional testimony on the attack on a U.S. mission in
Libya, officials said on Saturday.
"While suffering from a stomach virus, Secretary Clinton
became dehydrated and fainted, sustaining a concussion," State
Department spokesman Philippe Reines said in a statement.
"She has been recovering at home and will continue to be
monitored regularly by her doctors," Reines said, adding that
she would work from home and stay in regular contact with other
Clinton, 65, fell ill with a stomach virus last weekend and
was forced to cancel a planned trip to the Middle East and North
Africa. The virus also hit other members of her staff, who were
returning with her from a European trip, and was described as
uncomfortable, but not medically serious.
Clinton's doctors, Lisa Bardack of the Mt. Kisco Medical
Group and Gigi El-Bayoumi of George Washington University,
issued a statement saying that Clinton fainted as a result of
"extreme dehydration" due to the virus.
"Over the course of this week we evaluated her and
ultimately determined she had also sustained a concussion," the
doctors said in their statement, which was distributed by the
"We recommended that the secretary continue to rest and
avoid any strenuous activity, and strongly advised her to cancel
all work events for the coming week. We will continue to monitor
her progress as she makes a full recovery."
Clinton has often been cited as a potential Democratic
candidate for the U.S. presidency in 2016 and frequently refers
to her general good health. She said in an interview with ABC
broadcast on Wednesday that she has "incredible stamina and
She has maintained a punishing schedule in her final weeks
as the top U.S. diplomat, a position she intends to leave toward
the end of January when U.S. President Barack Obama is sworn in
for a second term.
Obama telephoned Clinton to wish her well, White House
spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
BENGHAZI TESTIMONY NEXT WEEK
Clinton had been expected to testify on Dec. 20 before the
House of Representatives and Senate foreign affairs committees
on a report on the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in
Benghazi, Libya, in September that killed the U.S. ambassador
and three other Americans and raised questions about security at
Jodi Seth, a spokeswoman for Senate Foreign Relations
Committee head John Kerry, said that given her condition,
Clinton's testimony would be postponed, but did not say until
when. Seth said the planned hearings would be held with other
senior officials appearing in Clinton's place.
The Republican chair of the House of Representatives Foreign
Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, issued a statement
saying she was sorry to hear of Clinton's ill health, but it was
"unfortunate" she would be unable to testify before the
committee next week.
"We still don't have information from the Obama
Administration on what went so tragically wrong in Benghazi that
resulted in the deaths of four patriotic Americans,"
"We have been combing through classified and unclassified
documents and have tough questions about State Department threat
assessments and decision-making on Benghazi. This requires a
public appearance by the Secretary of State herself."
Ros-Lehtinen's statement said William Burns and Thomas
Nides, deputy secretaries of state, would provide testimony in
Republicans have criticized the Democratic Obama
administration for its early public explanations of the attack.
Much of the criticism focused on U.S. Ambassador to the
United Nations Susan Rice, who on Thursday said she was
withdrawing her name from consideration to replace Clinton as
secretary of state to avoid a potentially disruptive
Clinton has appointed a special panel known as an
accountability review board to assess both the Benghazi incident
and the official response to it.
The board's report, which will contain both classified and
unclassified sections, is expected to be complete next week and
Clinton has promised to be as transparent as possible with
Congress in sharing its findings.
Clinton, whose husband, Bill Clinton, was president from
1993 to 2001 and who herself came tantalizingly close to winning
the Democratic presidential nomination four years ago, has used
her star power to promote U.S. interests around the world since
Obama named her to lead the State Department in 2009.
She has consistently been rated as the most popular member
of Obama's Cabinet, leading to speculation she might mount
another White House bid in 2016, although she herself has played
down suggestions that she still hopes to become
"I've said I really don't believe that that's something I
will do again. I am so grateful I had the experience of doing it
before," Clinton told ABC's Barbara Walters in the interview
broadcast on Wednesday.
"I just want to see what else is out there. I've been doing
... this incredibly important and ... satisfying work here in
Washington, as I say, for 20 years. I want to get out and spend
some time looking at what else I can do to contribute."