May 30th, 2014
08:16 AM ET
8 years 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."

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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. George T Hibs

    What DIFFERENCE does it make?

    May 30, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    YOU LIE posted:

    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.
    Surely you cannot mean Mitt Romney, not when you were the one who bought his name up.

    "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."

    That was easy.

    May 30, 2014 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  3. Guest

    We have NO JUSTICE for Benghazi.

    May 30, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. lovinthatsomanyhateonnd

    even Stephens family has called for this to cease! GW Bushs UN Ambassador, who investigated this, has said the same. But, they would rather use his death for political purposes, like they used Pat Tillmans.

    May 30, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  5. MaryM

    Repubs, Ambassador Stevens father is sick and tired of his son being used as a political pawn. Do You Understand that repubs

    May 30, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC


    We have NO JUSTICE for Benghazi.
    Not with Republicans fixated on talking points, instead of perpetrators and future security.

    May 30, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. lovinthatsomanyhateonnd

    "Guest"..Pit Tillmans family is still waiting for theirs!!!! nice of you to forget them, and Pat.

    May 30, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  8. Zeke

    Obama appointed Hillary as Secretary of State, he also appointed Sibelius and Shenzeki do you sense a pattern of incompetency here?

    May 30, 2014 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. tamara

    It should be noted that the only time Hillary is willing to give her "full" viewpoint on Benghazi is in a book where there are no questions asked – no one there to poke holes in her story. In her testimony before Congress, she deflected most of the time. Being a leader means taking responsibility and I see nothing like that in this administration. It is never their responsibility and they are floundering a bit now that they can't blame Bush for every little thing (not that Pelosi isn't still on that). I'm an Independent, and I want answers. I don't want a government that lies to me continually and that's what I have right now.

    May 30, 2014 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  10. Marcus (from...?)

    'Kevin – 'It was a cover up, plain and simple. Those denying it are playing politics and trying to protect their dear nominee.'

    I could say that 'Kevin' is in fact a Russian spy hellbent on destroying the USA from within.
    But how could I know that? Why wouldI have to prove my accusation with facts?
    'Kevin' and the others don't need one when they are making theirs...
    But I don't live in the shadowworld where those guys lives, I live in the Planet Earth.
    So I won't say it.

    May 30, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. SteveS

    It's a thin line between an investigation, and a witch hunt.
    Benghazi has been constantly investigated for 18 months.'s a witch hunt.

    May 30, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  12. REGinAZ

    Politics wins ... and when playing politics wins, the people don't. The person that was most capable of resolving the VA problems, even with having to take the blame, was just ousted and all that was served was politics, with those making all of the noise, aiming simply to gain political advantage, now having their way without doing anything to solve the problems. This is what they want – make noise, excite people, have negative reaction and gain political momentum, without any concern for anything else. Those doing all of the screaming never have any real answers as they are totally focused on serving only their political ambitions and, in that regard, serving "the money" for their strong support. Hopefully the people, the voters can come to see reality, to understand that the “puppets'" goal is always just to con the people, to manipulate public opinion and to serve their own interests without ever having any concern for anything else, especially not really for the people's interests – references: the manipulation of the "conservative" Christian (2000); the Swift-boat propaganda (2004); the Tea Party movement (2010) and now the Obamacare, Benghazi and VA issues – all aimed to excite and sway voters in the same single direction, to insultingly just dupe, use and abuse the people as "pawns". The people, the voters need to take offense, reject constantly being conned, reject the propaganda and get rid of the "puppets" who serve only themselves and "the money".

    May 30, 2014 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  13. joeamerican

    Socialist redistributionist Demorats. They love other peoples $. Just like the rap song, (rappers are their heroes) get down with OPP!!! Only its OP$

    May 30, 2014 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. jack2

    She has the nerve after lying to the nation. Hillary explioted her position and lied to the nation as did Obama and Rice. .

    May 30, 2014 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  15. Dean

    Hillary is like Obama. "I didn't know anything about it" until "it" becomes public knowledge.

    May 30, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  16. Dave

    George T Hibs

    What DIFFERENCE does it make?


    Republicans should stop lying so casually. You know the full quote. You know you are being dishonest by quoting Clinton out of context. It's clearly not fooling anyone but Republicans. Just stop.

    May 30, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. kenman14

    It's incredulous, that in the world of "politics" and "politicians" that you aren't allowed to ask questions of "politicians" because it might be considered "political"! Well, HELLO!? EVERYTHING involving "politicians" is "political"!

    So stupid to run such a story about such a vacuous claim!

    May 30, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  18. Dave-citizen

    Democrats think Hilary is the best there is to heal a country torn by sixteen years of terrible partisan damage. No sane person could believe this but the Democrats will push it anyway, demonstrating to the entire world in the clear light of day that they are bankrupt in every way it is possible to be bankrupt.

    Please go away. Take your inept lying ways, your obnoxious drone voice, your old, tired visage, your poor judgment, and your sleazy husband, on GO. Leave us alone. Please. Please please. We do not want to endure you any more. go away.

    May 30, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  19. A Kickin' Donkey

    If we took 1/10th of the money that the Republican Party has BURNED THROUGH on it's multiple investigations and Congressional committees around the topic of Benghazi, we could have offered a reward so large that Ambassador Steven's killers would have been turned in by each and everyone that knows them.

    I would expect the "free market principles" party to recognize that fact. However, they are not interested in justice, they are interested in trying to besmirch Hillary Clinton in an attempt to weaken her 2016 run for the Presidency. Every open-minded, THINKING American knows that.

    May 30, 2014 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  20. Nomad1375

    All I want to know is why did she lie about the video. It's clear that she knew it wasn't true from the beginning.What does it matter? Tell us the truth then we can decide if it mattered or not

    May 30, 2014 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  21. DBF

    Let her run, she has so much baggage she'll get torn apart, she's just another reminder of this ineffectual, self serving, misleading (at best) administration

    May 30, 2014 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  22. Thomas

    The DEMs could have told the truth 20 months ago and been done with this whole story a LONGGGGGGG time ago.

    May 30, 2014 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  23. Smitty

    Hilly just go away and take slick willie and monica with ya. you led end of story

    May 30, 2014 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  24. Willy100

    only ONE point – When I was an Executive with responsibly for a particular area, IF something happened, I "owned UP" – – so WHY did Hillary go get Susan Rice to go on TV and tell STORIES ? ? – HELLO - WHY not "OWN UP" and say "I goofed" – – I love her as a person, but NOT as a LEADER – – SHE FAILED the State Dept – – Sorry Hillary

    May 30, 2014 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  25. Dave

    This book is not helping her.

    May 30, 2014 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
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