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. YOU LIE

    I think what is interesting is that Democrats seem to overlook or forget the deceitful way in which this whole thing played out during the last election. Who could forget the debate when Romney was questioning Obama and got cut off by our loving CNN host. Or even better how Hilary "passed out" before her Benghazi report to congress. Do democrats honestly believe that there isn't a cover up going on? Hilary's tone/defensiveness about bringing up the death of 4 Americans makes me sick – as she is one of the few that could have helped prevent it in the first place – now she doesn't want to talk about it...her line of "does it really matter now" is like my 10 year old child admitting they did wrong, but refusing to talk about what exactly he did wrong. NOT PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL. To me, if they came out and said "Yes, in fact we were trying to cover up the terrorist attacks in Benghazi because of the elections and the reflection that might have had on the American people" this whole thing would have blown over by now.

    May 30, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. sly

    Republicans – you can start calling her President Clinton anytime now.

    President Obama and President Clinton are 2 of the most inspiring leaders in American history. Smart, kind and progressive.

    These are good times for America ... despite the huge controversy over the Birth Certificate and an American dying in a Muslim nation after Bush murdered 500,000 people.

    May 30, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. m123

    When all you have is lies, you must resort to obfuscation and redirection.
    Hillary is a master liar, able to sway Obama drones at the blink of an eye

    May 30, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. CALIFORNIA

    The democrats exploited it strictly for the political reason of getting Obama reelected.

    Sorry Hillary but democrats beat everyone to that already.

    May 30, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. DJ Reality

    This is such a load. Republicans are milking the heck out of this. I really don't see what there is to gain form dragging this out any longer. No one has even focused on what we can do to prevent embassy employees form dying in the future. No one has even found out why we were in Benghazi in the first place. That was no darn consulate in the first place (sorry but it wasn't). The only reason republicans keep it going is the they want to score political points with it and that is all. Heck, where was there ire and demand for a investigation when 25 embassy staffers died in the eight or so years before Benghazi? Or when the Bush administration planted phony stories in the newspapers and lied to congress about alleged parts far nuclear were being shipped to Iraq back in 2002. They lied in order to send troops to Iraq and congress did nothing. Cheney, Rice and Powell went before congress and lied. But I guess when republicans do it, then it must be okay.

    May 30, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  6. Common Cent

    Sam is a great example of how the GOP was no more willing to listen to any explanation or answers about Benghazi than a normal person would be willing to listen to reasons why he should light himself on fire.

    May 30, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  7. k truitt

    "...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."..."

    Well. There wouldn't BE any misinformation or speculation if Hillary hadn't been FLAT OUT DECEITFUL in her stories about what 'really' happened, now would there?

    Another horribly corrupt and lying political, and we want to put her in the White House? To replace the horribly corrupt and lying politico that's already there... Criminy...

    May 30, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  8. RocketJSquirrel

    She is right

    May 30, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. ireuel

    Why was Libya in disarray in the first place? The heck with both sides talking points. President Obama bombed it and left what accounts to zero security to protect American citizens in a country we disrupted. Come on left can't you see the irony of that. To be fare, I don't care about the video talking points. Why did we bomb this country? Tell me again, to protect from killing threats by a druggy leader? Oh also what happen to all the weapons that were left behind? Disrupt a country and then not safe guard weapons? This sound similar to another talking point back in 2003? Are we safer now Libya is a rouge nation? NO.

    May 30, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  10. Brian Fejer

    Since there actually were raging protests and riots around the world on September 11, 2012 against US Interests due to youtube video The Innocence of Muslims, I honestly don't understand the outrage of Republicans. It was also unsavory for Mitt Romney to come out on Nine Eleven, and start politicizing a national tragedy. Too soon!

    May 30, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. uhuh

    m123
    When all you have is lies, you must resort to obfuscation and redirection.
    ------–
    And the GOP are masters at it. But, you can't really blame them, they have no policy, record or accomplishments to run on. What have they done to move this country forward in the last 6 years? Nothing. It's moving forward in spite of them and that really chaps their backside.

    May 30, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  12. ireuel

    Drone strike Obama. Things are what they are. If you want to be anti war. All the Hippocrates should be saying the same thing about warfare, no matter its form. Barry Bombed Libya, Libya was out of control of its dictator. American Citizens were left to their own, do to it was right before a election. Politics is being played by politicians and either side is surprised. Sad the lemmings just peat and repeat. Think for yourselves for a change and you come to the conclusion that both sides _____. Thank you and have a nice day.

    May 30, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  13. Valeria Holden

    What about protecting innocent children in our country? Republicans do nothing about gun control.

    May 30, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  14. YOU LIE

    this is to everyone that continues to bring up what Bush did 13 years ago...

    Bush and team were SLAMMED everyday in the media, the US congress voted (Hilary included) FOR us to go to war, one of the world's worst criminals (mass murderer) was killed, no WMDs were found, 4000 Americans died. Bush carried that burden (still does) and admits to his failures.

    That is completely night and day difference from what this administration is doing – POTUS doesn't know anything about it, Hilary refuses to talk about why a 3 year old video caused a terrorist attack on an embassy (BTW no other sitting US ambassador has been killed before), and the worst part is that the media let's it all slide.

    Stop comparing what happened 10+ years ago with a different administration and focus on helping to build a better country. A transparent government that doesn't try to mislead the people, hide behind liberal media, or quit their jobs during a controversy.

    May 30, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  15. joeamerican

    Keep protecting Hillary's lies Demorats. Proves that truth doesn't matter to them, but that liberalism is a mental disorder!

    May 30, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  16. GOP = Greed Over People

    Wow, CNN!

    Perhaps, you should suggest the Fox trolls loosen their tin foil hat, chin straps before posting, consider it a PSA.

    And yet, you wonder why your ratings show some of us no longer even frequent this site of Obama bashers!

    Well, job well done, Fox Lite!

    May 30, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    J Smith confabulated:

    I think that the Obama administration is just as capable of covering up a bad incident that occurred on its watch as any of the Republican administrations that came before it. The fact is, the Obama administration told Americans that the attack in Benghazi was the result of a spontaneous protest in Benghazi over a Floridian threatening to burn a Koran. That version of events was completely fabricated.
    ---------------------------–
    Your version of events is completely fabricated. You forgot the part about the video.

    May 30, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    islandivan wrote:

    Hillary should have had the class to resign just as the VA Secretary has just done for being in charge and having the ultimate responsibility toward the safety of Americans and failing in those duties.
    ------------------------–
    According to Sen. Rand Paul, Mrs. Clinton did resign because of Benghazi. Check your old emails for the memo.

    May 30, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  19. lividemerald2013

    "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." Clever spin. I'm sure many people will buy into it. I don't.

    May 30, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  20. SimplyPut

    "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they’d go kill some Americans," Clinton said. "What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?"

    These are NOT words that inspire confidence from a would-be future President. Sad that people will vote for her if she runs.

    It makes a BIG difference Mrs. Clinton. We should know if this was simply some "guys out for a walk one night and decided they’d go kill some Americans" or if it was an organized terror plot; unfortunately, it was the later and it should make all the difference to someone who wants to sit in the Oval Office.

    May 30, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    YOU LIE posted:

    I think what is interesting is that Democrats seem to overlook or forget the deceitful way in which this whole thing played out during the last election. Who could forget the debate when Romney was questioning Obama and got cut off by our loving CNN host.
    --------------------------–
    Who could forget Mitt Romney caught on video saying that he would politicize any terrorist attack against the U.S., and then making good on that promise the night of the attack. He took to the airwaves slamming the Obama administration when first word of the attack hit the news, which was before news of the fate of Amb. Stevens was made public. Romney did have the human decency to apologize for his highly ill-advised, unprofessional outburst, which was also most unpresidential.

    May 30, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. rino

    GOP should impeach her her even before 2016, that way for sure she will become president.

    May 30, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  23. YOU LIE

    Rudy NYC posted:

    Who could forget Mitt Romney caught on video saying that he would politicize any terrorist attack against the U.S., and then making good on that promise the night of the attack. He took to the airwaves slamming the Obama administration when first word of the attack hit the news, which was before news of the fate of Amb. Stevens was made public. Romney did have the human decency to apologize for his highly ill-advised, unprofessional outburst, which was also most unpresidential.
    ____________________

    And your point is???
    In typical Democrat fashion, you have deflected the original point, blamed someone else (who quite frankly isn't even really a part of this controversy), and managed to make absolutely no sense.

    Apparently Rudy NYC, you see what you want out of the media but don't really know how to make sense of it. If the media is trying to make Romney look bad for jumping the gun on calling it a terrorist attack (which by the way it was), then he is the real problem here. Give me break. STOP BLAMING OTHERS. GAIN SOME ACCOUNTABILITY. Admit it, this administration has screwed up 1 too many times (if not more)...at some point it HAS to be their fault and not the previous administration, or the other guy that ran for president.

    May 30, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  24. Oren Yarbrough

    I still find it ridiculous that the people that are critical of Benghazi and are trying to use it to add extra hate on Obama, Clinton, and other Democrats have completely blinded themselves to the very large number of Embassy and consulates we had attacked in just the Presidency of George Bush alone. One could argue these were attacks during an active war in the middle east, but this doesn't explain the attacks in Africa or other countries that are supposedly allies like Saudi Arabia. These aren't conspiracy theories either...these other embassies had actual fatalities that matter just as much as the ones that occurred in Benghazi...yet somehow those were forgotten and left to mean nothing...while another is politically convenient to use to slander the current president. I think if you are going to condemn one attack then condemn them all, otherwise it is extremely apparent that it is a partisan based attack that is very hypocritical.

    May 30, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  25. Tony from Oakland California

    There are those who lie asserting Clinton has lied. Republicans lie while believing Clinton-Obama-Rice tried to conceal Benghazi, as a Terrorist attack for help at winning a 2012 election. Yet, Candy Crowley, herself, confirmed it .President Obama, himself, announced it as a Terrorist attack within days in the White House Rose Garden. Susan Rice mentioned it on Met the Press immediately afterward. "The attack was a response to a You tube video by Terrorist elements.
    Republicans are stuck on a merry go round of delusions in the name of political hope during a "dry" spell.

    May 30, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
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