Obama promised to 'avenge' Benghazi victims' deaths
January 23rd, 2013
02:49 PM ET
1 year ago

Obama promised to 'avenge' Benghazi victims' deaths

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama called the widow of Sean Smith the day following the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, promising to "avenge" the deaths of her husband and the three other Americans killed, according to a new book by reporter Michael Hastings.

Communications specialist Smith was among four killed in an attack on a diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Obama spoke with Heather Smith on September 12th as he flew to a campaign rally in Las Vegas on Air Force One. The White House confirms to CNN the call took place and notes the president said similar things about avenging the deaths of the four murdered Americans publicly in his statements following the attack.

"We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act," Obama said at that campaign rally. "And make no mistake, justice will be done."

"Obama told her he was going to avenge the deaths of Sean and the others. He offered her his condolences," Hastings writes in his book 'Panic 2012.'

"I don't feel like he said the wrong things," Heather Smith said, according to Hastings.

Hastings reports that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also called Heather Smith that day.

The information comes as Clinton provides testimony to the U.S. Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees Wednesday about the State Department's handling of the attack. She told the Senate Foreign Affairs committee that there were "very promising leads" and cases were being put together.

The investigation into the Benghazi killings continues and has made "significant progress," a law enforcement official told CNN Justice Producer Carol Cratty last week. The official suggested charges were expected but did not provide a timetable. FBI Director Robert Mueller traveled to Tripoli last week to meet with Libyan officials.

The U.S. is focused on "more than a dozen people," another U.S. official told CNN's Susan Candiotti recently. But one suspect, a Tunisian named Ali Harzi, has been the source of frustration for the U.S. investigators. Harzi was arrested in Tunisia but was recently released.

Clinton told the Senate Foreign Affairs committee she has been assured by the Tunisian government that Harzi is being monitored.

"Upon his release, I called the Tunisian prime minister. A few days later Director Mueller met with the Tunisian prime minister. We have been assured that he is under the monitoring of the court. He was released, because at that time - and Director Mueller and I spoke about this at some length - there was not an ability for evidence to be presented yet that was capable of being presented in an open court," Clinton said Wednesday.

Clinton said the president will hold true to his word that justice will be served.

"I don't think anybody should doubt this president at his word," Clinton told the committee. "We have some very good examples of that. It may take time, but he does not in any way divert attention from the goal of bringing them to justice."


Filed under: Libya • President Obama
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    One thing's for sure: if you're the people who did it, you're hoping you can hide well enuogh for 4 years until Obama is out of office. \

    Were it Bush or some cowboy-diplomacy neocon yammering such a thing, they'd be laughing: "What, kill us off and get rid of your favorite bogeyman? Then who are you going to use to scare everyone into taking other military actions in the region to secure those country's resources for yoru exploitation?"

    January 23, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    "Obama told her he was going to avenge the deaths of Sean and the others. He offered her his condolences," Hastings writes in his book 'Panic 2012.'
    ------------------
    That attack took place about 17 weeks ago. Why didn't he write a book about George W. Bush who declared roughly 17 months after the original 9/11 attacks that he didn't know where Bin Laden was and didn't really care?

    January 23, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. Woman In California

    "We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act," Obama said at that campaign rally. "And make no mistake, justice will be done."

    ----

    Mr. President, let me say you handled this brilliantly, by going on with your scheduled events and sending a message that the American people will not be intimidated, afraid or set back by those acts of violence. I have no doubt that once you have all the necessary information available, and have weighed all the FACTS, you'll take the proper action and when you do, over 4,000 people will not have to die for it. It's such a blessing to have you and your administration looking out for us and not the Goliaths of the past.
    Thank you for thinking first.

    January 23, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  4. Wake up People!

    Ok I'm confused here. So do you feel like President Obama should hop a plane to Benghazi and search for the killers himself?? Typical Fox-Lite
    BS.

    January 23, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  5. Moose

    Im sure they are shaking in thier boots, lip service provided by bamman, ill close gitmo, its not a tax, ill cut deficet in half or wont run again, ill blah, blah blah, what a joke

    January 23, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  6. Joe M.

    Considering there is evidence that some of the terrorists involved in the Algeria attack also participated in the Benghazi attack, I'd say Obama's "vengeance" (see absolute inactivity) will be coming a bit too late.

    January 23, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. stars

    I said it before I"ll say it again the attack was a inside job for Robme to use against the president.

    January 23, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  8. ghostriter

    Say what you want about the man, if he wants to take you out, he will make it so.

    January 23, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  9. Michael

    "President Barack Obama called the widow of Sean Smith the day following the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, promising to "avenge" the deaths of her husband and the three other Americans killed"

    How about we start by firing the people at the State Department who denied Ambassador Stevens repeated requests for additional security? Fire them before they get somebody else killed.

    January 23, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Joe M. wrote:

    Considering there is evidence that some of the terrorists involved in the Algeria attack also participated in the Benghazi attack, I'd say Obama's "vengeance" (see absolute inactivity) will be coming a bit too late.
    --------------
    Gee, your intelligence is superior to that of the US goverment. Impressive, most impresive. So why don't you be a patriot and share that exclusive info with Pentagon? Thanx.

    January 23, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  11. Joe M2.

    What? You mean president obama taking foreign policy action? You're kidding me, really? This I gotta see.... Oh, yeah, and spitballs don't count.

    January 23, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    -Joe M.

    Considering there is evidence that some of the terrorists involved in the Algeria attack also participated in the Benghazi attack, I'd say Obama's "vengeance" (see absolute inactivity) will be coming a bit too late.
    ********************************
    What "evidence" are you citing? Sean Hannity's wishful thinking? Ask the leaders of Al-Queda who have been killed on the orders of the President if his promises of retribution ring hollow.

    January 23, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh, Moose, listen to you. No doubt you've confused President Obama with President Bush (the guy who's on record as stating he didn't know where Bin Laden was and apparently didn't care where Bin Laden was either). Don't worry, we know you're simply projecting Grand Old Party BS.

    Keep you chin up, Buddy. Confusion is a well known GOPer phenomenon. I suspect there is no cure.

    January 23, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    -Moose

    Im sure they are shaking in thier boots, lip service provided by bamman, ill close gitmo, its not a tax, ill cut deficet in half or wont run again, ill blah, blah blah, what a joke
    ****************
    Homeschooled?

    January 23, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "Considering there is evidence that some of the terrorists involved in the Algeria attack also participated in the Benghazi attack, I'd say Obama's "vengeance" (see absolute inactivity) will be coming a bit too late."

    That's some seriously petty BS you're spewing. The assault on Banghazi took place approximately 3 months ago. You Teatrolls are ridiculous. On the one hand, 3 months passes and you want to claim "Obama was a day late and a dollar short." On the other hand, over a decade passes on bin Laden, during which time Bush claimed he didn't know nor care where bin Laden was, then Obama finds the guy and orders his death and carries it out and you guys start rationalizing that Bush deserves all the credit. Grow up and start talking sense.

    January 23, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "Gee, your intelligence is superior to that of the US goverment. Impressive, most impresive. So why don't you be a patriot and share that exclusive info with Pentagon? Thanx."

    Nah, some Algerian officials claim that 3 of the Egyptians killed were in on the Banghazi attack because they "interrogated" some of the other people captured, who ratted them out. Of course, those 3 Egyptians are dead and we have no idea what the Algerians did to "interrogate" these people and there's always a possibility of Algeria looking to ingratiate itself in order to get more aid, etc. We certainly need additional intel to confirm what they say, but to be fair, it was reported in the NY Times today as truth, so people just accepting it as such at face value is no suprise.

    January 23, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  17. kayla

    for you critics, go ask ben ladin

    January 23, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  18. trex

    .......Obama has MADE GOOD on his braking even with those that have harmed our people. Look out Marlboroman....we have TEAM 1 thru 6 just practicing..............practicing........................

    January 23, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    -Joe M2.

    What? You mean president obama taking foreign policy action? You're kidding me, really? This I gotta see.... Oh, yeah, and spitballs don't count.
    ********************
    Drone attacks do count. How many has Obama sanctioned or ordered, and how many Al-Queda leaders are there left? More to the point, what would the Right have done? Hired them as fundraisers, or guards in elementary schools?

    January 23, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  20. Michael

    @kayla
    "for you critics, go ask ben ladin"

    Thanks for reminding us that President Obama killed Usama bin Laden with his bare hands.

    January 23, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  21. Moose

    @linda wars are voted in, its a little old using the bamman standard blame it on bush, the lies your fealful leader keeps spewing are a crime. I AM NOT A GOPER, you believe what you want but the bamman stinks as pres, ohhh enjoy the weather, going down to the beach tonight after work !!! LOLl

    January 23, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  22. The Real Tom Paine

    -Michael

    @kayla
    "for you critics, go ask ben ladin"

    Thanks for reminding us that President Obama killed Usama bin Laden with his bare hands.
    ******************************
    He gave the order, he's the C in C. Why not take credit for it, or is it better to have Bin Ladin alive?

    January 23, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  23. The Real Tom Paine

    -Moose

    @linda wars are voted in, its a little old using the bamman standard blame it on bush, the lies your fealful leader keeps spewing are a crime. I AM NOT A GOPER, you believe what you want but the bamman stinks as pres, ohhh enjoy the weather, going down to the beach tonight after work !!! LOLl
    **************************************************
    No one can quite describe you, frankly, but a master of the the Written Word is NOT one of them. If lying were a crime, then Romney would have been sentenced to life without parole before he even left Iowa last year.

    January 23, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |