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

    They had to lie to cover for their failures. Simple as that.

    May 31, 2014 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  2. TSB8C

    What's with that 20 year old photo of Hillary on the cover of her book. She ashamed to show her real, near 70 year old face? And hew Benghazi chapter is still claiming the video as a cause for the embassy attack. I'm starting to believe the brain-damaged claims. She's as big a do-nothing hack as her former boss is.

    May 31, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  3. tony

    I rather vote for cats and dogs than vote for her. I dont know why the people grades her so hight. What did she do anyways except cried mercy to get elected cuz of her husband wrongdoing. Anything she did when she was the secretary of states are big failures. BIDEN is alot better thsn her

    May 31, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. Republiker

    The best thing about a Billary Kankles Presidency is maybe she will bring back the White House furniture she stole.

    May 31, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  5. george t hibbs

    The Obama Administration and Clinton's political machine can portray the off the agenda White House meeting on Clinton's upcoming book anyway they like but they cannot hide from the fact it was a damage control meeting. Clinton's chapter on Benghazi unfortunately does not match the facts. We could have guessed as much!

    May 31, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  6. tony

    S belong to Just ask democrats one question: why mrs clinton was not not the one to talk about the attack while the consular iis belonged to the responbility of states department. Why Susan Rice was the one?

    May 31, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  7. Juergen

    This whole select committee on Benghazi is a political sham. The best thing to come out of this will probably be having Issa wrapped around the axle over the Kerry interview.

    Has anyone seen a schedule of committee meetings? I understand they will be on C Span. Is that correct?

    May 31, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. george

    The WHY, Hillary and the WHole Benghazi think STINKS...Oh it was just a VIDEO...sure it was Mr O and Ms Hillary and Ms Rice....SURE it was...DEMS ain't gonna get away with this one..or the VA or the IRS or all the other GATE catastrophies!!!

    May 31, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. DC Observer

    .."knocking those that "exploit" Benghazi..." What a crock of campaign BS Spin ! How about criticizing those that "CAUSED" Benghazi in the first place Mrs. Clinton...AKA YOU ? Or are you sticking with that morbid insensitive line "What difference does it make" You, Mrs. Clinton, are NO Commander in Chief.

    If Mrs. Clinton were elected she could send this country into a tailspin....and as for foreign policy and military self defense, she could always go dancing and drinking with the Secret Service in Rio

    May 31, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  10. Toomuch

    Hillary's chapter in this book doubles down on the same lies of the video. Most of this has already been proven to be a lie on the testimony of the CIA and others..

    May 31, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  11. cal

    All you right wing political hacks please tell us about the 300 we lost in Lebanon under Reagan or the 13 consulate attacks with deaths under little Bush- please do so and tell us why those deaths do not count? you hypocritical hacks- you are useless and do not care one whit about anything other than running down Dems- this country deserves better than you are or will ever be

    May 31, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. kev

    Good to see her standing up for herself. The republican bullies need to provide some proof or issue an apology. The exploitation of these deaths by the republican party is unforgivable.

    May 31, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  13. Johnny

    Irresponsible turd. You are a partisan hack if you vote for this idiot.

    May 31, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. Shills

    Hillary, I'm surprised you are coming against your 'critics' because at this point, what does it matter?

    May 31, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  15. Rob

    She's pathological at this point. She lied to the parents, the nation and the world. She is pathological, just like her former boss.

    May 31, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  16. Carol

    The Repubs don't want to hear her answers. She did a good job of standing up to the Repubs in her testimony as they were throwing a lot of needless garbage at her.
    for SHILLS: This is her statement, not the one you posted:
    Here's what she said, under questioning from Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., about why the State Department didn't quickly call the evacuees and ask whether there had been protesters outside the compound before repeating that story on the Sunday talk shows:
    "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans," Clinton said with evident exasperation. "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 prevent it from ever happening again, senator."

    May 31, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  17. True Blue Democrat

    I , a life long Democrat , believe everything the machine tells me to believe . Hillary is so strong and credible as a Presidential candidate , that no Republican can ever win against her , and the whole Republican party trembles and shivers at her power , in fear .

    May 31, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  18. YoonYoungJo

    The sad part of this is, on a technicality the GOP probably is right. They did get information of a "possible" attack. And so by not acting on it, well that's where the spin doctor is at work.

    But realistically if the President acted on every "low possibility" and attack occurred we would have millitary forced everywhere and be spread out so thin we couldn't protect anybody. Its a technicality that is being spun.

    May 31, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  19. Citizenatlarge1

    It is ironic that Mrs. Clinton criticizes the investigations into Benghazi, as republicans trying to exploit the tragedy for political gain, when the whole world now knows that, that is exactly what she and the Obama administration did in manipulating the truth about the Benghazi attack in order to fit the Presidents narrative during his reelection campaign.

    May 31, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. roro

    Has everyone forgotten the many embassy attacks during the Bush/Cheney years? Over 100 people died, and no one did any investigating. Why is that? And has everyone forgotten that Ambassador Stevens turned down added security and that Congress withheld money for embassy security? Republicans have very selective memories.

    May 31, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  21. TheTruth

    In Spain, Mr. Aznar lost the election because he attributed the Atocha train terrorist attack to ETA and not to Muslim fanatics.... The news quickly caught the lie and the press reported it as it was... A fine example of democracy... Mr. Aznar was the leader of the conservative party.

    In the US, the liberal press continues to protect this current administration and Mrs. Clinton... what a shame... double standard for conservatives vs liberals.... What makes the Clinton and Obama administration situation worse... is that it happened in the anniversary of Sept. 11th, they knew within hours what it was, they lied to win an election, and they showed incredible incompetence.... and still they are protected by this pathetic media, including CNN

    May 31, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. Tommy G

    How dare you all question the Heir to the Throne!! HER answer questions?! OFF with your heads!! Queen Hillary shall not tolerate such insult.

    May 31, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. Dragonballs

    surrounded by a "regrettable amount of misinformation, speculation, and flat-out deceit by some in politics and the media."
    ==============================================================================================
    That would be you Clinton, Obama, the Administration, and the stooge media.

    You better get ready for this if you campaign. You failure and lies on this subject will follow you where ever you go and you won't be able to hide between a propaganda speech.

    May 31, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  24. foxghostwriter

    When pressed as to what questions have gone unanswered, republicans have failed to come up with a single one. That should tell you everything you need to know.

    May 31, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. juan pablo

    Hilary was INCOMPETENT and DIRELICT for her decisions to Reduce Security, being the last embassy open in Syria, and Not Sending Support Troops. Because of Hilary Clinton's INCOMPETENCE is the reason for the first kill US Ambassador in over 30 years.

    May 31, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
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