January 17th, 2014
09:25 AM ET
3 months ago

Adviser defends Clinton amid Benghazi criticism

(CNN) – A top adviser and longtime confidant to Hillary Clinton is defending the former Secretary of State against renewed attacks from Republicans over her leadership during the deadly 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

Philippe Reines said on CNN's "New Day" on Friday that Clinton will stay out of the Benghazi debate as long as it has political undertones.

"It's very, even sitting here, very difficult to shift to talking about people losing their lives and the politics of 2016," Reines said. "For as much as people want to make the two the same and to use one in that context, we don't see it that way."

"I know that sounds canned," he continued. "But we just don't, and we're not going to help those who want to."

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a new report endorsed by most members this week saying the attack, which killed four Americans, was "likely preventable," and it partly blamed the State Department for security lapses.

Democrats have claimed that Republicans are using the tragedy to undercut Clinton, who is viewed as a formidable potential presidential candidate in 2016.

But Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham used the report to pressure the Obama administration to take action and hold people accountable, including Clinton, for security shortcomings.

GOP turns new fire on Clinton after Benghazi report

"She has a lot of accomplishments. She's a very accomplished woman. But, under her leadership, the consulate became a death trap," Graham, who doesn't sit on the Intelligence panel, told CNN.

McCain said that "the American people hold all of us accountable who are in responsibility. She should be held accountable."

State Department won't fire employees over Benghazi

Asked if he agrees with the Senate's finding that the attack was "likely preventable," Reines said: "I don't know what that means."

He raised other Benghazi reports, including an independent analysis ordered by the State Department and led by former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.

State Department upheaval follows Benghazi report

"They didn't pull any punches," Reines added. "They came up with 29 recommendations of things that should be done differently. Secretary Clinton, at the time, accepted all 29 immediately and pledged to not leave office until all 29 were on their way to being implemented."

Reines reiterated it's more productive to figure out what happened and how to prevent it again. "Not to continue to harp on the political benefits of looking at what was said by who at what time."

Clinton insiders say the former Secretary of State will address Benghazi in her upcoming book. Asked how much she'll delve into the issue, Reines said "you don't have to wait for the book" to find out.

"Secretary Clinton has appeared many times in the last, I guess, 14, 15 months, including seven hours in front of both sides of Congress to answer every single question that they've had," he said. "So in terms of what she did, how she did it, she's been very vocal about that. She is proud of what she has done to - to handle and to improve and to try to prevent that."

– CNN's Elise Labott, Matt Smith and Paul Courson contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Hector Slagg wrote:

    So who dropped the Ball.
    The whole incident is on the Obama Administration, right or wrong. .... ....
    ------------------
    The single person most responsible for the Ambassador's personal safety was none other than Amb. Stevens himself. The right wing is making the blatantly false conclusion that "may have been preventable" automatically means "Clinton should have prevented it." The report indicates how the Ambassador took risks, often times relying on local contacts he had made for security. The report indicates that Amb. Stevens had declined additional security at the Annex, too.

    Like I said, the sinple perons most responsible for the Ambassador's personal safety was none other than Amb. Stevens himslf. Folks back in D.C. have no control over his immediate actions and risk taking. If he tells them that his risks are within acceptable levels, then they take him at his word.

    January 17, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. Fair is Fair

    rs

    Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Tampa Tim

    Fair – Obama had 58 dems and 2 independents in the senate until September of 2009. In September of 2009, the GOP got their 41 senator and government ground to a halt. Being from MA, I thought you would know that.
    -––
    I think Fair missed the boat on this one. The Patriot act was set to expire. A vote was taken to extend it, so I don't know what she's talking about saying Obama had the votes to repeal it. Fair seems to think that Democrats function like Republicans. Anything that the fearless leader puts forth, then the drones must automatically vote for it or face being expelled from the party. It might work that way on the right, but not on the left.
    -
    Oh really? Obama could have vetoed the extension – a defacto repeal. He did not.
    __________________
    Silliness. The Right Wingnuts would have gone crazy if he had. "Leading from behind" "soft on terrorists" Blah, blah, blah. It's the GOP game- mindless whining.
    --------
    Gonna let you in on a little secret, rs... there's LOTS of us on the right who despise the "patriot act" and cringed when GWB sanctioned the department of homeland security. We also understand that whenever there's a crisis, internationally or domestically, that the government, regardless of the party in power, will use it as an excuse to reign in our liberties. Oh, they'll throw you some scraps here and there, but for the most part their only interest is an ever-expanding bureaucracy and intrusion on individuals.

    January 17, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. ghostwriter

    Fair, you correctly state that Obama only had a filibuster proof majority for a year. Of course, Obama also had a recession going on at the time.

    But also as noted, democrats weren't voting in lock step over everything either.

    January 17, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. Vince

    The same people "outraged" at Hilary must have howled for justice when it came out that Bush could have prevented 9/11 had he paid attention to security briefs in the summer of 2001. You know...that event that killed nearly 3,000 people...not 4.

    January 17, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  5. Donna

    There was massive incompetence in the Hillary Clinton run Sytate Dept.. That incompetence lead to the death of 4 Ameircans, including a direct report to Hillary Clinton, Ambassador Stevens. I guess Hillary Clinton was just too busy and having too much fun jetting all around the world making appearances and photo ops to care about the day to day responsibilities of the State Dept. And then when the 3am call came and American lives were on the line, she failed yet again. She has yet to detail her actions during the attack.

    It is very clear that the Democrats are expunging any reference to her and her culpability in this debacle that cost the lives of 4 Americans NEEDLESSLY.

    Hillary Clinton may refuse to discuss this matter BUT IT IS NOT GOING AWAY. It shows she is clearly unqualified to lead this country in any way. She is nothing but a political animal that doesn't care about the lives of people she is responsible for. Her callous opposition of the Iraq surge for purely political reasons proves this. Her only concern, just like Obama, is what is good for them personally. Everybody else and the country be damned.

    January 17, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  6. Mike

    Fair is Fair must a Fox need junkie, seldom getting facts right. The Dem's never had 60 In the time frame given. I think people forget that much of the time Kennedy was ill, so was Robert Byrd. As for Paul Kirk, what exactly are you saying about Patrick appointing him to replace Kennedy? Didn't change the dynamics. As for Lieberman, many times the war mongerer voted or sided with republicans. So where exactly is this 60?

    January 17, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. quinLee

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day. I guess the folks on the right are betting on the same philosophy with their constant blabbering and hypocrisy when it comes to Benghazi.

    January 17, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. RandyIA

    rs

    In Right Wingnut world perhaps. As there is no crime, no proof of cover-up, no conspiracy, no proof of any wrong-doing, you are left with four deaths of Americans on hostile shores. To me the scandal is the lengths the GOP will go – even to the point of undermining our government and diplomacy to manufacture conflict.
    =================
    Actually you have lies purposely made to the American people at a very political time. A report of a true and intentional terror attack on American soil would have hurt BO's campaign. Not to mention, regardless of the world location, the US embassy is considered American soil. I'll take the hits for saying this I am sure, but that attack technically was a small scale invasion of America.

    January 17, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. ja

    Benghazi don't compare to the the weapons of mass destruction lie, the powers swept It under the rug, countless lives on both sides, no real results, somebody address that

    January 17, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. Larry in Houston

    Libya will be so far in the past when 2016 rolls around, it will wither like a piece of dust...'ole Lindsey & the senile one, guess that's all they've got...yep, that's right, continue to beat the drum regarding the 4 dead ones, while we lost thousands under the "W" watch.......not to mention all the "mistakes" that were made during his 8 year regime....Now, That's what I call pathetic....yep, that's right....LOL

    January 17, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. ghostwriter

    Fair, you maybe a rarity, because most conservatives simply rubber stamped anything Bush wanted to do. There were not many in congress that disagreed, if any.

    Donna.....This was not the 1st attack and probably won't be the last. Did you point out the incompetence of those in charge of the state department from 2000-2008? I only ask because 4 people dying in a 3rd world war torn country doesn't seem to be a rare thing.

    January 17, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. Fair is Fair

    Mike

    Fair is Fair must a Fox need junkie, seldom getting facts right. The Dem's never had 60 In the time frame given. I think people forget that much of the time Kennedy was ill, so was Robert Byrd. As for Paul Kirk, what exactly are you saying about Patrick appointing him to replace Kennedy? Didn't change the dynamics. As for Lieberman, many times the war mongerer voted or sided with republicans. So where exactly is this 60?
    ---------–
    Obama had his needed 60 from the time the Coleman / Franken thing in Minnesota was settled until Scott Brown was seated – approximately 18 months. They managed to get Obamacare through the Senate without a single Republican vote, right? Had to have 60 to do that, right? And by the way, your little "Fox News" barbs are kind of juvenile. Speaking of which, Mommy says your mac-n-cheese is ready.... nom nom nom.

    January 17, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    smith

    @rs-Like or not Benghazigate is a scandal. They blamed the attack on protesters getting out of control over a youtube video. The dems made this into a scandal.
    ---------------------------
    Ahem. Since when has Fox News been run by Democrats. You're suffering from a Limbaugh Mind Trick.

    January 17, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. Larry in Houston

    ""This was not the 1st attack and probably won't be the last. Did you point out the incompetence of those in charge of the state department from 2000-2008? I only ask because 4 people dying in a 3rd world war torn country doesn't seem to be a rare thing""

    Answer : I couldn't have said it better myself......

    I want to say this a lot, especially the way you put it, but there is a lot of people out there who either are mis-informed, or don't understand, or are naieve, or are just ingnorant of the fact, or don't know the true facts, or don't know any better, & I can go on & on....but I guess they think we were in a war that didn't cause any casualties, for some reason or another... some people stay in a dream, forever...

    January 17, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. Fair is Fair

    ghostwriter

    Fair, you maybe a rarity, because most conservatives simply rubber stamped anything Bush wanted to do. There were not many in congress that disagreed, if any.

    Donna.....This was not the 1st attack and probably won't be the last. Did you point out the incompetence of those in charge of the state department from 2000-2008? I only ask because 4 people dying in a 3rd world war torn country doesn't seem to be a rare thing.
    ------
    Comment 1 – there were very few democrats in congress that dissented, either. 'Twas a truly bipartisan circle jerk.

    Comment 2 – the fact that it was "only 4 people" isn't the whole issue... the larger issue is the cover up (kind of like Watergate, the coverup far worse than the crime). The fact that it happened just under 2 months from election day stinks to the high heavens.

    January 17, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Jonathan

    BENGHAZI FACTS EVERYONE MUST KNOW BEFORE 2016:

    1. The nonpartisan Accountability Review Board did not find Hillary Rodham Clinton responsible for the Benghazi attacks. Hillary never directly received the cables requesting more security. In-fact, Ambassador Christopher Stevens turned down additional security according to the Senate’s latest report — a report that never mentions Hillary by name (except in the Republican dissenting section). In other words, Hillary was never found to be directly responsible for Benghazi by any of the official Benghazi reports.

    2. Republicans cut millions and millions of dollars in “embassy security.” Cuts that Hillary Clinton called “detrimental” to our security overseas. If Benghazi is so important to Republicans, why are they cutting embassy security? It just proves they are only using Benghazi as a political tool to try to hurt Hillary in 2016. Republicans are spitting on the graves of those lost in Benghazi for political gain.

    3. Over 50 people died from embassy/consulate attacks under George Bush’s Presidency. Where was the Republican outrage over that? Republicans didn’t care when Bush lied about WMDs, nor did they express outrage over 9/11/2001, the Iraq War, or the 13 embassy attacks with 50+ dead under Bush. Their outrage over Benghazi is phony and they are essentially spitting on the graves of those lost in Benghazi for political gain. If Republicans cared so much about embassy security, why didn’t they express outrage over the 13 embassy/consulate attacks under Bush?

    4. The Obama Administration did not “cover-up” the Benghazi attacks. Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olsen told Senator Joe Lieberman that Benghazi was a “terrorist attack”. This was only a few days after Susan Rice went on the Sunday morning talk-shows. Therefore, this would have to be the shortest “cover-up” in history.

    Senator Joe Lieberman: “Let me begin by asking you whether you would say that Ambassador Stevens and the three other Americans died as a result of a terrorist attack.”

    Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olsen: “Certainly on that particular question I would say, yes. They were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy.”

    5. Hillary’s quote, "What difference, at this point, does it make" has been taken out of context. Hillary was referring to the Republican’s obsession with what Susan Rice said, not Benghazi itself. We now know the intelligence communities talking points that Susan Rice presented were incorrect. But to accuse the Administration of intentionally lying (when Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olsen called it a “terrorist attack” only a few days after Susan Rice went on the Sunday morning talk shows) is dishonest. Take your issue up with the intelligence community and their talking points, but don’t accuse Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton of intentionally lying.

    6. The reason the YouTube video was cited as a possible reason for Benghazi is because violent protests had been erupting throughout the Middle East when Benghazi took place. Some of the protests had to do with the YouTube video, which is why it was originally thought Benghazi was also related to the YouTube video. The attackers in Benghazi hijacked the protests that had erupted throughout the Middle East in order to launch their attack successfully.

    January 17, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    RandyIA wrote:

    ... ... Actually you have lies purposely made to the American people at a very political time. A report of a true and intentional terror attack on American soil would have hurt BO's campaign.
    ------------------------–
    Yeah, Fox News would have their fun, but it wouldn't have stood a chance against 47%, though. The Romney campaign's final act of self-imolation was the release of that false Jeep ad, which had claimed something about shipping jobs to China. The ad was blatantly false, as proven by the mere fact that the U.S. plant was not only up and running, but it was undergoing expansion.

    But, the Romney campaign stuck to their tall tale, and Romney's poll numbers began dropping. Those polls were taken a week before Sandy hit, which hit on a Monday. Polling that weekend showed Romney slipping even further, which was a day or two before Sandy hit. You know the story. Christie greets Obama, and poll numbers now show Obama with a lead. Now you know the whole story. Romney was not only behind, but he was falling before Sandy had hit.

    January 17, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. current state of the union

    Big difference between an attack on foreign soil, versus falsifying Intel in an effort to wage war, which coincidentally made them both rich, add to that George w.boasting about being the richest president when leaving office, no biggie, he's a Republican

    January 17, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. Me

    Dean

    I didn't realize that the Senate Intelligence Committee was comprised wholly of Fox viewers.
    ____________________
    That right there the definition of PARTISAN HACK, just because they came to a conclusion you don't like they are fox viewers??? Give me a break you and your kind are simply partisan hacks to the extreme!!!! I am not saying it was ALL Clinton's fault but she was the HEAD of the state department sooooo anything that happens under her watch will come back to her in some way. She should have held the people responsible instead of just running away and resigning, this just makes her look even more guilty!

    January 17, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. rs

    RandyIA

    rs

    In Right Wingnut world perhaps. As there is no crime, no proof of cover-up, no conspiracy, no proof of any wrong-doing, you are left with four deaths of Americans on hostile shores. To me the scandal is the lengths the GOP will go – even to the point of undermining our government and diplomacy to manufacture conflict.
    =================
    Actually you have lies purposely made to the American people at a very political time. A report of a true and intentional terror attack on American soil would have hurt BO's campaign. Not to mention, regardless of the world location, the US embassy is considered American soil. I'll take the hits for saying this I am sure, but that attack technically was a small scale invasion of America.
    ____________________________
    The President said it was a terrorist attack within 24 hours. Romney tried to nail him on that and was pretty much made a fool of in the debate, so how did it impact the election? . Meanwhile, you overlook that embassy security is the responsibility of the host nation.

    January 17, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  21. Hairy reed

    rs

    RandyIA

    rs

    In Right Wingnut world perhaps. As there is no crime, no proof of cover-up, no conspiracy, no proof of any wrong-doing, you are left with four deaths of Americans on hostile shores. To me the scandal is the lengths the GOP will go – even to the point of undermining our government and diplomacy to manufacture conflict.
    =================
    Actually you have lies purposely made to the American people at a very political time. A report of a true and intentional terror attack on American soil would have hurt BO's campaign. Not to mention, regardless of the world location, the US embassy is considered American soil. I'll take the hits for saying this I am sure, but that attack technically was a small scale invasion of America.
    ____________________________
    The President said it was a terrorist attack within 24 hours. Romney tried to nail him on that and was pretty much made a fool of in the debate, so how did it impact the election? . Meanwhile, you overlook that embassy security is the responsibility of the host nation.
    ---------------------------–
    Actually, CNN and Crowley later stated that obama took 9 days to call it a terrorist attack, until then they were still blaming a video.

    January 17, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. tom l

    "And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people."
    -President Obama on 9/12

    Justice? Where?

    January 17, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  23. vikingwoman

    Just a few observations: I can remember many embassy/consulate attacks under other administrations, where more Americans were injured & died, but I've never witnesses this type of frenzy & uproar before! Also,didn't congress Deny more funding for security at such posts & shouldn't those people be held accountable as well! The as.sertion that Ms. Clinton hasn't 'taken responsibility' is a blatant lie! Both she & the President did & said it publicly numerous times! Finally, weren't all those other embassy attacks also preventable, if someone had paid attention? I find this debacle to be utilized purely for political reasons, which is a travesty unto itself! As people keep saying, Americans died & to use their deaths for political jockeying is despi.cable!!

    January 17, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    tom l

    "And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people."
    -President Obama on 9/12

    Justice? Where?
    --------------------
    Apparently, Republicans think the guilty parties are in the State Department and the White House. They don't want to look anywhere else. Maaaybeee, that's why no one has been brought to justice. Too busy barking up the wrong trees.

    January 17, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  25. smith

    @Malory-The other protests on that day did not involve RPG`s and AK-47`s, to make a comparison is not logical.

    January 17, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
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