May 30th, 2014
08:16 AM ET
6 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. MaryM

    Madam President Hillary Clinton and First Gentleman, President Bill Clinton.

    May 30, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  2. rs

    smith

    @rs-The Bush admin. didn`t blame any of the attacks on a youtube video. Instead of being outraged at the terrorist who did the act Susan Rice basically excused their behavior by saying it was a peaceful protest that went wrong because of an american made youtube video. The Obama admin. did this to themselves, they should have been straight right from the start.
    _________________________
    We may have crossed wires, but yes, the video meme did come out of the Administration, but it needs to be noted that line came directly from the CIA- the people who ran the operation in Benghazi (400 miles from the embassy) in the first place.

    May 30, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  3. bobo

    What??? When you say.... "What difference at this point does it make?" It does...... because you had the chance to save those four men. You also could have told the truth.... instead of blaming some video for the attack. Honestly Hillary.... You are a disgusting human being.

    May 30, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  4. Lily

    Some people here must get a grip. Benghazi and Tripoli are on the same country Libya. The Embassy is stationed in Tripoli. Benghazi was just only a Consulate (a small Office to carry out minor duties). The main Offices in Tripoli were and are still protected. How anyone with a functioning brain can blame Hillary for not protecting the late Ambassador Steve who was out of his station where he lived? Was Hillary supposed to protect all Ambassadors wherever they are, wherever they go all around the world?

    May 30, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  5. Hector Slagg

    Humm, Well,
    Better open eyes folks. The Grand Plan is to continue the Liberal/Progesssive ajenda. For the last 100 years you have been sold on the Idea that Government knows best and you just need to go along with the Program. Now where was that tried before? Oh, now I remember, the Old Soviet Union. Remember how that worked out? So you have a choice next Presidental Election. Stay in your Pajamas and wait for the end or take the bull by the horns and kick the Liberal, Big Spenders out. It is you who will pay the bill.

    May 30, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  6. NWjoe

    The republicans are so fixated on Benghazi and 4 deaths, but let the lunatics run wild killing American children.

    May 30, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  7. MaryM

    bono: "When you say.... "What difference at this point does it make?"
    ______________________________________________________________________

    Thats right republicans, keep taking comments out of context. That worked out so well for you in 2012. Just keep talking repubs, just keep talking

    May 30, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. Zeke

    Hillary is going to get exposed in these upcoming hearings. They are aware of that in the Clinton camp and are working to try to minimize the damage. All the media has to do is play the tape of Hillary screeching "Why does that matter now , Why does the matter now". It is like chalk screeching on a blackboard. Look for a smoking gun regarding Hillary very soon now.
    By the way Hillary, the truth always matters.

    May 30, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. JJO

    If you can’t say anything good about someone, you must be talking about Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton will never be President. She is one of the most hated and despised women in the country. Her hate factor is one rung below that of Nancy Pelosi. She is incompetent, has blood on her hands from the Benghazi murders of four Americans, committed perjury during the Benghazi hearings, as SOS fostered the expansion of Al Qaeda in Egypt, Libya and No. Africa and supported Morsi, the deposed head and terrorist of Egypt. She is still married to scumbag and sleaze ball Bill Clinton who was guilty of adultery, perjury, impeachment and disbarment. The country will never elect Hillary, who has the same ideology as Obama, after the destruction and calamity Obama has caused to the country and middle class. Also, if she is so popular, she would have won the Democratic nomination in 2008 against Obama.

    May 30, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  10. critical thinking

    Sorry Hillary, it doesn't work that way. You may not want to talk about your single biggest mistake but the majority of the country does.

    May 30, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  11. Guest

    She has already spoken what she thinks about Benghazi: "what does it matter?"

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

    @Hector Slagg
    "The Grand Plan is to continue the Liberal/Progesssive ajenda. For the last 100 years you have been sold on the Idea that Government knows best and you just need to go along with the Program. "
    ----------–
    For example, 100 years ago women could not vote. Civil rights movement was way off.
    Women and non-white voters take note of just how far back conservatives want to take you.

    May 30, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  13. oleoleole

    I thought the Rebuplicans already had a committee to investigate this.....? Suddently, > 1 year later, do they have new questions to ask that they didn't the first time?

    May 30, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  14. rs

    bobo

    What??? When you say.... "What difference at this point does it make?" It does...... because you had the chance to save those four men. You also could have told the truth.... instead of blaming some video for the attack. Honestly Hillary.... You are a disgusting human being.
    _________________________
    Fantasy- there was no such hope- air support was hours away, and of limited use.

    May 30, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. Tom l

    He's not my own big guy. Some equate lying with cheating so I can understand where he's coming from. However, why are you so desperately trying to change the subject? Because you have no answer to my 2 questions.

    May 30, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. rs

    NWjoe

    The republicans are so fixated on Benghazi and 4 deaths, but let the lunatics run wild killing American children.
    _____________________
    That has always been my point- if the deaths of 4 men in a war zone in another country elicits this level of "concern" from the Right, you'd think they'd flip out at the deaths of 26 first-graders in America, or 6 college-aged Americans in Santa Barbara... but funny, it doesn't.

    May 30, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  17. CALiberal

    I've heard enough about Benghazi. It's old news , getting to be very old. The tea party voted to not fund embassy security and now they want to ride Benghazi to the white house. Fat chance. Disgusting politics. Using dead Americans for political points. Darrell Issa is a sorry human being. A filth digger of the worst sort. The richest member of the House. Made his money making those annoying car alarms.

    May 30, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  18. rs

    Freedom Storm

    HItlary exploits anything and everything at will to further her tyranny.
    ______________________
    Tyranny? She holds no office. Your tinfoil hat is too tight.

    May 30, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  19. Jeff - Sarasota, FL

    "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."

    There were 13 Embassy attacks and 50+ people killed under G W Bush and 1 attack and 4 Americans killed under Obama.... Under Bush, no investigation, no charges, no hearings, under Obama, there are hearings, possible charges and possible talk of impeachment proceedings...

    It would appear the Obama Administration did a very good job of trying to keep it from happening again, compared to the Bush administration, and yet the GOTP is all over Clinton/Obama on this for only ONE reason...

    FEAR!!!!!

    "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."

    The GOTP is afraid of getting a REAL leader in the White house that will actually work for the betterment of ALL the people, not the corporations and the rich... That has them all worried because they know she isn't afraid of them and she has Bill the do his thing and he is still the most popular past president so they are trying to do all they can to stop her before she has a chance to run... TYPICAL GOPT ignoring their own failings to try to make the opposition look worse for doing less...

    May 30, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  20. Gman

    "The lady doth protest too much, methinks"

    May 30, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  21. rs

    oleoleole

    I thought the Rebuplicans already had a committee to investigate this.....? Suddently, > 1 year later, do they have new questions to ask that they didn't the first time?
    _________________________
    12 investigations. Most of which they manipulated and misinterpreted the testimony. All for $60 million, and climbing.

    May 30, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  22. Robert constant

    There was no place to comment on the Romney story so I will do so here. When Romney was Governor of Massachusetts, he doubled the cost to students attending Massachusetts State Colleges to give tax cuts to the rich. Romney's Bain Capital pioneered the model for Venture Capitalists to ship American Industry and jobs to China and the Third world.
    Romney owns about 850 radio stations which broadcast Republican Hate Radio all over the country. Romney provides the distribution apparatus for the hatred of Rash Limburger.
    When the United States Government outlawed polygamy among Mormons at the threat of confiscating the assets of the Mormon Church, Romney's ancestor moved his harum to Mexico. What you think you see is not what you get with Mitt Romney.

    May 30, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  23. Jackson

    Of course they say it should disqualify her. They know she can win, and want to stop her any way they can.

    Should the starting of an illegal war has forced Bush out of office? Now, you know the hypocritical GOP would say no. Even though THOUSANDS lost their lives, compared to 4 in Benghazi. Where are the Congressional investigations into those war crimes?

    The hypocrisy on the part of the GOP is ridiculous and they need to be force fed the crap they exude until they choke on it.

    May 30, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  24. polarizedDysfunction

    @bobo

    Your dis-ingenuousness just adds to the terrible problem of talking points partisan dysfunction in this country. Her point was that we now have an obligation to find out how and why four Americans died so that we can take lessons learned and ensure it never happens again, thereby making their deaths count for at least something. But using those deaths to make political points is shameful and a disgrace and posts like yours only add to that shame and disgrace.

    Here is Ms. Clinton's on the record response, you can all look it up if you don't believe me. As I said, it's a matter of public record: "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator."

    May 30, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. JDinHouston

    Benghazi – deadly, dangerous, known extremely high risk = 2 professionals who understood the risk are dead.
    Americas schools – safe, happy, known to be extremely low risk = 66 children expecting to have the right to live are dead.

    Republicans don't care if your children die, guns and politics are more important to them..

    May 30, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
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