May 30th, 2014
08:16 AM ET
5 months ago

Clinton knocks those 'who exploit' Benghazi in memoir chapter

Updated 4:32 p.m. ET, 5/30/2014

Washington (CNN) – Hillary Clinton strikes a defiant tone on Benghazi in her upcoming memoir "Hard Choices" and knocks those "who exploit" the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack as "a political tool," according to a Politico report on the chapter.

The former secretary of state also writes that the attack – which Republicans have used to bludgeon Clinton since the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in the incident- is surrounded by a "regrettable amount of misinformation, speculation, and flat-out deceit by some in politics and the media."

Politico obtained the chapter ahead of a Friday confab where Democratic national security experts and communicators will be briefed on Benghazi by Philippe Reines, a longtime Clinton adviser and spokesman.

House Republicans have continued to pressure Clinton on Benghazi and earlier this month organized a select committee to investigate the terrorist attack. Democrats contend that the investigation is nothing more than a political tool to criticize Clinton as she mulls a run at the presidency in 2016.

While it is likely that Republicans will call on Clinton to testify before the select committee, Clinton casts doubt on her participation in the investigation, according to the report by Politico's Maggie Haberman, who is also a CNN political analyst

"I will not be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans," Clinton writes. "It's just plain wrong, and it's unworthy of our great country. Those who insist on politicizing the tragedy will have to do so without me."

She continues to knock House Republicans, writing that while she respects the oversight role of Congress, "many of these same people are a broken record about unanswered questions. But there is a difference between unanswered questions and unlistened to answers."

GOP chairman of Select Benghazi Committee reacts to Hillary Clinton book chapter

The U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked on September 11, 2012. Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed. Initially, the attack was thought to be perpetrated by an angry mob responding to a video made in the U.S. which mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammed, but was later determined to be a terrorist attack.

Hillary Clinton's not-so-new book rollout

Questions about Benghazi have dogged Clinton since the attack and some have questioned whether the former first lady is to blame for Stevens' death - the first U.S. ambassador killed on duty in over 30 years.

Earlier this year, Clinton said that Benghazi was her biggest regret during the four years she served as America's top diplomat. "It was a terrible tragedy losing four Americans, two diplomats and now it is public so I can say two CIA operatives," Clinton said at a speech in New Orleans.

Clinton has also taken responsibility for the deaths and did so, according to Politico, in the memoir chapter, too.

"As Secretary I was the one ultimately responsible for my people's safety, and I never felt that responsibility more deeply than I did that day," she writes.

Clinton testified about the attack in House and Senate hearings in 2013. Republicans, however, say there are still questions left unanswered and some contend that the attack should disqualify the former secretary of state from holding future office.

According to Politico, Clinton responds to some Republican questions on Benghazi, including claims that military assets were not scrambled in time to aid the compound and that requests for more security for the compound were ignored by the secretary of state.

"Our military does everything humanly possible to save American lives – and would do more if they could," Clinton writes according to Politico. "That anyone has ever suggested otherwise is something I will never understand."

The former first lady also defends then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who used five Sunday talk show appearances soon after the attack to link the deaths to the anti-Islam video posted to YouTube.

"Susan stated what the intelligence community believed, rightly or wrongly, at the time," Clinton writes, according to Politico. "That was the best she or anyone could do."

Republicans contend that the talking points that link the attack to the video show the White House was playing politics with Benghazi because President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election was just two months away.

As to why Rice rather than Clinton appeared on the Sunday shows, Clinton writes, "I don't see appearing on Sunday-morning television as any more of a responsibility than appearing on late-night TV. Only in Washington is the definition of talking to Americans confined to 9 A.M. on Sunday mornings."

CNN confirmed that Tommy Vietor, a National Security Council spokesman during Obama's first term, has been brought on by the Clinton team to coordinate and assist in the response to the book.

The hiring of Vietor, whose time with the President dates back to Obama’s days in the Senate and who has ties to both Clinton and Obama's closest advisers, signals a closer cooperation between the White House and Clinton's staff on communicating the news from Clinton's book.

In another sign of stepped up cooperation, Democratic surrogates and communicators who publicly support both Obama and Clinton met at the White House this week with Communications Director Jenn Palmieri and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes to talk about a number of issues, including Benghazi and Clinton's upcoming book, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

While the topic was not on the official meeting agenda, one surrogate asked about it and the President’s aides made clear they want no daylight between Obama and Clinton on foreign policy issues as the book rolls out, the source added. The messaging, the White House aides said according to the source, is this: Obama’s team of rivals became an unrivaled team.

In addition to working with the White House, the Clinton camp has stepped up their messaging around the book's release to include a coordinated surrogate operation.

Clinton's team, according to a source familiar with the book rollout, has tapped Kiki McLean, a former Clinton senior adviser and veteran of five presidential campaigns, to coordinate the surrogate operation.

This group includes a war room of former diplomats who stand ready to respond to criticism of Clinton’s tenure at the State Department, according to the source.

During an interview that aired Friday on "Live with Kelly and Michael," Obama spoke highly of Clinton and said if she chooses to run for president, he thinks she "would be very effective at that."

"I always admired her. As soon as she got here, she couldn't have been more effective, more loyal," Obama said. "And since that time we have become really, really good friends."

The President's comments come a day after Obama and Clinton had an "informal, private" lunch at the White House, according to a White House official.

Republicans were quick to respond to Clinton's chapter on Benghazi.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told CNN on Friday that the Benghazi chapter shows "Hillary Clinton, President Obama and the Democrats would rather blame Republicans for asking questions than get answers for Americans."

"It isn’t acceptable for the Democrats to try to sweep this under the rug," Priebus said. "Americans want answers so it doesn’t happen again."

Tim Miller, the executive director of America Rising, an anti-Clinton super PAC, added in an email to reporters that "Clinton offers plenty of finger-pointing but no real accountability of what she should've done differently/better."

"In a 34-page recounting of her actions before and after a deadly terrorist attack, it appears Clinton offers few if any real regrets about how she handled the attack," Miller said.

"Hard Choices" is an important moment for Clinton, the current favorite to win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination should she run. Critics have charged that her time as America's top diplomat was marked by a lack of a crowning achievement, while Clinton confidants have looked to frame those years as a success and see the book as the most potent way to do that.

Obama, Clinton have 'informal, private' White House lunch

Clinton has said the book begins with her accepting Obama's offer to become secretary of state and covers a range of topics, including Iran, Syria and Libya. She has joked that the memoir will be "just another light summer read" and will cover topics from "Crimea to climate change."

The memoir is due out on June 10.

Asked why the Benghazi chapter was released prior to the overall release of the book, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill told CNN that "until the book is released, there’s nothing to say. And once it’s released, it will speak for itself."


Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (342 Responses)
  1. Jan Nappylotto

    It was just a "spontaneous group of protestors upset about the YouTube movie"
    – It was not a group of heavily armed and organized militia
    – Americans lost their lives... "what matter does it make"
    – the filmmaker was captured and thrown in jail
    – how can you catch those responsible when it was just a "spontaneous group of protestors"?

    May 30, 2014 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    -–practically speaking, now this nation does not give darn hoot at BENGHAZI-RANT because everyone knows it is just a fabricated, concocted by GOP selfish motives. The reason is simple, in Republican Party none, I mean none, speak any sense. They speak absurd, second century talk. Yes, on Hillary16.

    May 30, 2014 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  3. jpmichigan

    Hillary Clinton has to come right out and tell the truth, before the truth comes from others.

    May 30, 2014 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  4. Chris-E...al

    H . Clinton is just a dirty old crook with a bag full of gimmicks and thank goodness for that makeup to cover up that mug .

    May 30, 2014 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    During the Bush years, people saying the sort of things that they are saying about Mrs. Clinton and administration would have been branded un-American traitors by conservatives. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, people making such comments are applauded as patriots.

    May 30, 2014 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  6. tom l

    During the Bush years, people saying the sort of things that they are saying about Mrs. Clinton and administration would have been branded un-American traitors by conservatives. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, people making such comments are applauded as patriots.
    ======

    And I can guarantee that you were
    a. one of those people that said those sorts of things about Bush
    b. championed that type of talk amongst others

    Nice double standard that you exhibit, just like the double standard of the ones that you talk about. You have zero self awareness, but that seems to be a common trait of the gang.

    May 30, 2014 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  7. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    A republican would, and will exploit anything and everything to gain authority and power over others. Many of them would set fire to their grandmothers, if the room got a little too chilly.

    May 30, 2014 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  8. Randy, San Francisco

    Republicans just don't get it. The same old political attacks on Hillary are old and stale. The only ones listening are their own conservative wingnut Hillary haters. The majority of Americans are too smart to buy into political attacks that are like old Saturday nite movie re-runs. Listening to the same old dribble for the next two years is a turn off to voters.

    May 30, 2014 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    And I can guarantee that you were
    a. one of those people that said those sorts of things about Bush
    b. championed that type of talk amongst others

    Nice double standard that you exhibit, just like the double standard of the ones that you talk about. You have zero self awareness, but that seems to be a common trait of the gang.
    ------------------------------------
    You forget, tom, that I'm always talking about elected officials, not the nobodies who post stuff on web blogs. In that light, your comments are a tangential to the topic that I was discussing. As a general rule, all Republicans are making "unpatriotic" comments about our country, our government, and the POTUS. You cannot make the same generalization about Democrats during the Bush years.

    As you yourself have so often pointed out, Democrats had initially supported Bush when he started his wars. When it became apparent that the rationale for those wars was false, then that support waned. Bush was justifiably criticized for his continued actions Iraq. I think the turning point came when he made his infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech, and failed to bring the troops home as promised. Instead, Bush sent more boots, and even more boots, all the while laughing off the fact that the didn't know, and didn't care to know, where Osama Bin Laden was hiding.

    May 30, 2014 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  10. pjoe

    Hey YouTube ... quit exploiting Benghazi.
    ~ Hillary Clinton

    May 30, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  11. DBF

    What else do you expect her to say? This is just one of the many things that will contribute to her losing once again, she is old and stale and if she runs, will guarantee a GOP victory. Her window has closed and the Dem establishment knows it but doesn't know what to do.

    May 30, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  12. turd cruzin

    So now tom can guarentee what our personal opinions are on things that happened ten years ago, dude, get a grip already, oh and trickle down economics just don't work, fify .

    May 30, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  13. tom l

    "people saying the sort of things that they are saying about Mrs. Clinton "

    don't try and nuance what you said and what you meant. You most certainly did not mean "elected officials". You meant "people" and when I call you on your incredible hypocrisy and demonstrate with YOUR words, you try and change the topic – a classic Rudy maneuver that you must have learned during training. Howeva, since Hillary clearly lied (and you have basically acknowledged that by excusing it and saying you're ok with a "little white lie" that would be the turning point that you rightfully pointed out with the "mission accomplished" sign. The turning point here is what it's all about. When people realized we were lied to, and it's obvious by the Hillary statement to the father of the fallen navy seal and the subsequent speech at the UN 2 weeks later by Obama that they tried to tell us it was a video when they knew full well it wasn't. That, indeed, was the turning point.

    May 30, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  14. turd cruzin

    DBF, what's the name of the planet you live on? Lmao.

    May 30, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  15. turd cruzin

    Jp just because she didn't give the answers you wanted to hear, doesn't make them lies. Grow up a bit son, reality is empowering, once you learn to embrace it, first you must recognize it, good luck man.

    May 30, 2014 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    The persons to knock, are those who lied to the world, about what happened in Benghazi.........both Clinton and Obama. Both should be held accountable for their lies and deceit. Rice, was simply their pawn, to use to deceive the public and the media.

    May 30, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  17. Independent

    Ether our government is completely incompetent or lying through their teeth. Answers that I want: (1) If people on the ground knew it was a terrorist attack right away, what, when and who provided Clinton with the updates? (2) What, who and when was Obama informed? (3) Did Panetta speak directly to Obama? If so, when? If not, why not? (4) Why exactly couldnt we respond militarily in 8 hours? Aviano Air Force base is a few hours away. If we dont have fghters there why do we have such a large AF base there? if it was just a refueling issue, was Israel asked to provide inflight fueling? Are we expected to believe that we used to be able to react to the Soviet Union but now cant get a couple of fighters in the air? (5) Why was security so poor after they already had attacked our consulate in August? (6) Why were we there when all the Europeans had already pulled out? (7) Under such a dangerous environment, why were we so unprepared on the anniversary of 9/11? (8) Obama was in the situation room to get his picture taken during the Bin Laden killing. Why was he not in the situation room when our consulate was under attack?

    May 30, 2014 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  18. smith

    Such hyprocrisy by H. Clinton. Both sides play politics with tragic events or even non-tragic events.

    May 30, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  19. Rudy NYC

    tom l

    "people saying the sort of things that they are saying about Mrs. Clinton "

    don't try and nuance what you said and what you meant. You most certainly did not mean "elected officials". You meant "people" and when I call you on your incredible hypocrisy and demonstrate with YOUR words, you try and change the topic – a classic Rudy maneuver that you must have learned during training. Howeva,
    ----------------------–
    I've posted it several times to YOU, that I'm almost always talking about elected officials when I do not name names. It's not my fault if you don't remember. Consider yourself officially informed.

    May 30, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    tom l posted:

    ... Howeva, since Hillary clearly lied (and you have basically acknowledged that by excusing it and saying you're ok with a "little white lie" that would be the turning point that you rightfully pointed out with the "mission accomplished" sign. The turning point here is what it's all about. When people realized we were lied to, and it's obvious by the Hillary statement to the father of the fallen navy seal and the subsequent speech at the UN 2 weeks later by Obama that they tried to tell us it was a video when they knew full well it wasn't. That, indeed, was the turning point.
    --------------------------------
    I see. So it really is all about the talking points with you, not the lost lives and how to prevent future such tragedies.

    May 30, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh hey. Good. I get to do my BENGHAZI retread.

    Mr. Ben Ghazi 2016

    Rah. Rah.

    May 30, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  22. turd cruzin

    Independent, well it would seem rather logical that he was present during an operation we were executing, and the other we knew nothing of, your a laughable one huh?

    May 30, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  23. Lynda/Minnesota

    "You have zero self awareness, but that seems to be a common trait of the gang."

    Uh-oh, tom I. I thought you didn't like it when folks made comments directed at you using such language.

    May 30, 2014 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  24. Marty

    This "old gal" needs to retire.

    May 30, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  25. smith

    @Rudy-Your right, the GOP did brand people who didn`t side with them as un-patriotic. However, Dems brand people who disagree with them as racists. They are both wrong.

    May 30, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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