May 30th, 2014
08:16 AM ET
7 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. Tom l

    Whoever said Obama "cheated" in 2012? What on earth are you talking about?

    May 30, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  2. sly

    Hillary should exploit the Republicans for Benghazi.

    Our President sent Republicans 3 separate bills asking, begging, them to provide money for security for the Libyan Embassy, and 3 times the Republicans rejected the increase, directly causing the murder of 4 Americans.

    American blood on Republicans hands ... again ... and again ... and again.

    May 30, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. Sam Wilson

    Hillary is still in the denial phase. She did NOTHING TO HELP SAVE the people she was charged to protect and her response is "What difference at this point does it make?" Well, the difference is that you did NOTHING TO HELP! Hillary should accept her failures instead of continuing the lies, fraud and deceit that she is relying on to pass the buck.

    May 30, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  4. jack2

    Exploit? What? Is she forgetting they lied to us? They lied to protect Obama's re-election chances which boils down to cheating. The president should be held to a higher standard and so should Hillary. The woman is clueless or thinks we are.
    I have news for her. I'm not. I have proof of there lie

    May 30, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  5. Sam Wilson

    Hillary is still in the denial phase. She did NOTHING TO HELP SAVE the people she was charged to protect and her response is "What difference at this point does it make?" Well, the difference is that you did NOTHING TO HELP! Hillary should accept her failures instead of continuing the lies, fraud and deceit that she is relying on to pass the buck....

    May 30, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. jack2

    Benghazi to me is about the administratio lying to the public for self-gain. Everyone knows they lied, to not know means you are in denial or just don't know the facts and timeline

    May 30, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. Beth

    Since when is Hillary Clinton on the high road.

    May 30, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  8. Sam Wilson

    Hillary, I thought you were up to the task of answering the 3:00am call. It looks like you slept through the whole night without responding with help.

    May 30, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  9. jack2

    Tom...He cheated by not disclosing the truth about benghazi so it didn't damage his narrative of destroying Al Qaeda. it's that simple and you know it.

    May 30, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. Sam Wilson

    Hillary is still in the denial phase. She did NOTHING TO HELP SAVE the people she was charged to protect and her response is "What difference at this point does it make?" Well, the difference is that you did NOTHING TO HELP! Hillary should accept her failures instead of continuing the lies, fraud and deceit that she is relying on to pass the buck....121

    May 30, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  11. smith

    @Rudy-Isreal, Pelsoi,Reid and the list goes on have labled the GOP as racist. My point about H. Clinton is she is calling out repubs but when her party uses a event as a political weapon she stays silent.

    May 30, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. Sniffit

    "Whoever said Obama "cheated" in 2012? What on earth are you talking about?"

    "Tom...He cheated by not disclosing the truth about benghazi so it didn't damage his narrative of destroying Al Qaeda. it's that simple and you know it."

    LOL...betrayed by your own....

    May 30, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  13. smith1

    the only woman that has the GOP peeing it's pants. Go get em girl . These post are so funny even the rank and file are afraid of her. Vote all repos out.

    May 30, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. Tony

    Tom I, Obama said this in a 60 Minutes interview on September 12, 2012, one day after the Benghazi attack:

    "As I said, we’re still investigating exactly what happened. I don’t want to jump the gun on this. But you’re right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt. And my suspicion is, is that there are folks involved in this, who were looking to target Americans from the start."

    What happened in Egypt was that people were protesting the video. Obama also said that "there are folks involved in this, who were looking to target Americans from the start." So, do you still think that Obama was pushing the theory that the Benghazi attack was a spontaneous demonstration?

    May 30, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  15. ztarbod

    There would not be a Benghazi 'political tool' if Hillary and President Obama had just told the truth. Telling a false story over the caskets returning from Benghazi is the fuel for Benghazi investigations.

    May 30, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. Chappie96376

    this makes me mad as hell! as a staunch Democrat (ok, not down the line, but anything's better than today's Republican party), I find Hillary's attitude absurd. she's been defensive since day 1 on this instead of showing remorse and responsibility. it's been damage control, damage control.

    guess what Hillary? you were hoisted by your own petard. the '3am call' came and did we feel secure? hell NO!

    Hillary is a divisive figure and the worst mistake the Democratic party could make for the next presidential election. step aside and give someone untainted a chance to shine.

    I will vote for Biden if he runs, but I'd love the chance to vote for a worthy woman. don't believe your own hype Hillary...

    May 30, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. TheCatInTheHat

    The House Ways and Means Committee lead by JOHN BOENER of the GOP pushed ahead a set of tax breaks Thursday that would add another $304 billion to the deficit over 10 years, on top of $310 billion in loopholes it voted for last month.
    "And that is not to mention the REPUBLICANS and their complete inaction on federal unemployment insurance, which has now been cut off to nearly 3 million Americans who are desperately searching for work," said Levin. "The cost of extending bonus depreciation could pay for a full year of extension of unemployment benefits 10 times over."

    May 30, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. Silence DoGood

    I love how this conspiracy grows. Fact free means you can invent a new fantasy every day.
    The reality (occam's razor) – initial assessment was wrong and this was clarified later
    1st version conspiracy – it was mismanaged
    2nd version conspiracy – it was lied about
    3rd version conspiracy – no one cared and they lied
    4th version conspiracy – they actually caused the deaths
    5th version conspiracy – they planned and caused the deaths
    6th version conspiracy – they planned the deaths in an attempt to set up an evil satanic socialist dictatorship
    7th version conspiracy – they planned the deaths in an attempt to set up an evil satanic socialist dictatorship with space alien help

    May 30, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I have news for her. I'm not. I have proof of there lie"

    No doubt Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina will be interested in your proof. Do the taxpayers a favor and get in touch with him pronto. He's fixing to spend millions upon millions of tax funded dollars looking for your proof.

    May 30, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  20. ritmocojo

    "...there is a difference between unanswered questions and unlistened to answers."

    BINGO! Say no more. You go girl!

    May 30, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  21. df

    Yet democrats milk every tragedy where people die and use it as an excuse to push unarming people and violating the 2nd amendment.

    Hillary Clinton let Americans die and cries when people bring it up saying it's not fair to user her failure to question why she should be president. absurd. this is 1 evil woman.

    May 30, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  22. Hank

    She does not seem to understand that those souls are dead because of her.

    May 30, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  23. Freedom Storm

    HItlary exploits anything and everything at will to further her tyranny.

    May 30, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    smith

    @Rudy-Isreal, Pelsoi,Reid and the list goes on have labled the GOP as racist. My point about H. Clinton is she is calling out repubs but when her party uses a event as a political weapon she stays silent.
    ---------------------------–
    No, they haven't, tom. No one has made those sort of blanket statements about the entire GOTP. The keyword is SOME of he opposition to Pres. Obama is racially tinged. Much of the anger on the right has deep bitterness to it. The racially derogatory remarks by so many Republicans speak for themselves. The fact that no one speaks against such remarks is a tacit approval. What sort of remarks? Try "gangsta president" on for size. No one in the GOTP complained about it, no one.

    May 30, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  25. Freedom Storm

    “Politicians are the lowest form of life on earth.
    Liberals are the lowest form of politician.”
    … General George S Patton

    May 30, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
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