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. Scott

    Imagine if there were as many inquiries and investigation and select committees to get to the bottom of what happened on 9/11..the REAL 9/11. Thousands died on that day, but the Republicans simply said, "Mistakes were made," now let's move on. The greatest national security failing of our lifetime and that was their response. But Benghazi happens and now it's the worst thing ever? Hypocrites.

    May 30, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  2. 1776usa2016

    GOP is like the little boy who cried "Wolf" so many time that everybody just ignores him.


    May 30, 2014 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  3. Eagle0841

    Exploited? Really? I am sure Ted Bundy felt he was being exploited too!

    May 30, 2014 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  4. Spgfld Tom

    Will Hillary's new book be classified as Fiction at Barnes & Noble? I wonder if she will include a chapter on how she intends to heal a divided nation? Nah, that would require way too much thought, easier to continue the "Hate and Envy" campaign of the Democratic party.

    May 30, 2014 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  5. joe m

    What difference does it make. These were expendable employees. They have already been replaced, and we are recruiting more. iT was workplace violence.

    May 30, 2014 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  6. TM

    The GOP are raising money off of Benghazi, how low can you go.

    May 30, 2014 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  7. Name. willard

    Im sorry that clinton hillary are too old woman with damage her health

    May 30, 2014 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  8. amercon

    IBenghazi summary – Hillary lied, men died. Hillary doesn't care. Obama lied, refused to help, and fired generals who wanted to help. Obama and Hillary covered it up and demoted those who spoke up. Obama and Hillary can not be trusted.

    Hillary on Veterans Day: What difference does it make?

    May 30, 2014 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  9. Mike Jones

    RESPECTFULLY, can some one please remind me what this woman's experience is to qualify her for the highest office fo the lad?

    May 30, 2014 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  10. ludvig

    If you think this is bad, think of what Raygun did, having an Iranian commercial airliner shot down and getting 240+ service people killed in Beirut. If that happened under the current administration, imagine the howling of the hypocritical Repugs.

    May 30, 2014 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  11. Name. willard

    I think maybe clinton hillary make trying idea behind her story with book

    May 30, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  12. texasnotea

    Way to go Hillary!!!!! Stand up to these fakers, they are not used to that they only are used to being bully's Typical gop propaganda gibberish nonsense and bully tactics.

    May 30, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  13. Vijnyan

    ...yet it is OK for Ms. Clinton to exploit the victims to sell her book. Hrm. Interesting.

    May 30, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  14. Cindy

    Sorry folks but I associate something like this with what Clinton "didn't do about Boko Haram" two years ago. THEY WERE A REAL MENACE TO NIGERIA BACK THEN AND SHE FOUGHT LIKE A WOUNDED DOG TO KEEP THEM FROM BEING LABELED AN INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST GROUP.

    May 30, 2014 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  15. aberqueen

    The Benghazi mess shares the same meme/problem as the IRS/ scandals: The people in charge are soooo in charge that supposedly low-level mavericks are doing things they don't know about and can't control.

    What's the point of having people in charge if they can't manage things well enough to know what's going on?!

    May 30, 2014 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  16. TJeff1776

    Would the GOP be smearing Hilliary IF they thought she wasn't gonna run ?? WELL yes, of course. Those conservatives are simply sadistic types.....they MUST have a human being to beat up....especially if poor.

    May 30, 2014 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  17. Jim

    As bad as Obama is handling foreign policy. I have to admit that Hillary Clinton is capable of far worse.

    May 30, 2014 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  18. Name Paladin

    History will show President Obama was a great man. History will show the TPGOP was bought and paid for.

    May 30, 2014 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  19. jimmy

    This is what the republican party has become. A bunch of losers standing on the sidelines yelling at the real players. With a leader like priebus the drunk being the head cheerleader. The republicans are done, and we all FRONT ROW SEATS. ENJOY, I AM.

    May 31, 2014 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  20. Steve

    Yes we know Hillary. You did your best and that darn video just got in the way, right loser Hillary?

    May 31, 2014 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  21. YBM

    The usual suspects are still out defending the indefensible. I wonder how much they get paid. At this point only the truly ignorant believe anything coming from a democrat.

    May 31, 2014 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  22. seanster5977

    I love the "I won't answer any more questions" way she thinks that ends it. The questions have always been so simple and could have ended the entire follow-up. But that would have meant they all would have to be honest for a while. Not in her making or Obama's.

    May 31, 2014 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  23. Zeke

    Hillary will be exposed in these Benghazi hearings. She was part and parcel of the "blame the Video" front that was ordered by Obama himself. Internal memos will confirm that so Hillary is trying to take the sting out of the smoking gun that will be exposed. Just listen to Hillary, Obama and Susan Rice again and again blame the video and now they try to say the CIA was behind that posture. Yet the CIA leadership says they never singled out the video. Good luck, Hillary.

    May 31, 2014 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  24. Al

    In Hillary's own words, "what difference does it make". I guess she's finding out that to people that do care, it does make a difference, and if you don't care about those 4 that were abandoned then, well you know.

    May 31, 2014 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  25. Bill

    An entire team of surrogates and professional marketing types huh? I don't think she'd make a very good president, but she'd probably be awesome at selling soap.

    May 31, 2014 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
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