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. PtBarnumBoy

    Judging by the comments to this article I'd say we're in one helluva mess. Can't help but remember that famous old quote, "Why can't we all just get along." Better still, "What hath God wrought!"

    May 31, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. it must be said

    Hillary Clinton has no other choice but to double down on her lies and feign outrage. The fact is SHE was the very first one to float the lie of the video as the cause of the Benghazi attack. Why hasn't the LSM grilled her on this? Are they afraid of damaging the next incompetent, corrupt leftist they intend to con the American people into voting for?

    May 31, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. Spgfld Tom

    You will be able to find Hillary's new book in the fiction section at your local Barnes & Noble. Rumor has it the book will include 24 blank pages so the reader can write in Hillary's accomplishments (she couldn't think of any herself).

    May 31, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  4. Spgfld Tom

    HIllary to Obama: "You lie and I will swear to it.......unless I'm the Democratic presidential candidate, in which case I will blame everything on you"

    May 31, 2014 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  5. kols

    I am so sick of hearing about Benghazi. No one deliberately lets Americans die so this entire thing is just insanity to keep harping on it. It's all about politics and damaging Clinton as much as possible IF she decides to run in 2016.

    May 31, 2014 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  6. mrx

    Lie,lie,lie hillary....youre just as dirty as the rest....youre not to be trusted..lie,lie,lie

    May 31, 2014 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  7. mrx

    There is NO GOD!

    May 31, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  8. AJ

    For someone who went after Nixon as a hound from hell, I find her treachery far worse than republicans sneaking into the democrats club house

    May 31, 2014 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  9. JAY

    she was a complete failure I her current position. funny how YOU idiots do not see this and yet you will vote for to be pres ... this country is f'ckd

    May 31, 2014 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  10. sonnie3

    Two people in charge(clinton & obama) should know why we did not support our Ambassador. They stalled for the obama election and now it will come home to roost in 2014. When one tells the truth up front one needs not to remember the lies they told so they can continue to save face. That type of cover-up and non transparency is not what we need from our elected officials. The video lie was blatant and should be used to impeach those in charge.

    May 31, 2014 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  11. John

    Reagan 10 embassy attacks......GW 13 attacks, 77 US deaths..............and Obama 1 attack, 4 deaths, the lowest incidence rate and US deaths in 50 years, the GOP claims it is a crisis because some terrorists didn't like a video and most others had planned an attack already, and they claim it is crucial that we know how many of each there were, even though we will never talk to these people? Does anyone believe the GOP is acting in our best interests?

    May 31, 2014 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  12. Loathstheright

    Get over it, conservatives hate America and will do anything in their power to destroy it.....they want to bankrupt it, and turn power over to the states so they can enforce their insane agenda.

    June 1, 2014 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  13. Catherine

    She didn't "take on" anyone, she wrote a book (or the ghostwriter did) giving excuses and lying through her teeth so that she will be the Dem's pick, hey Hill they through you over once what makes you think they won't do it again – fool

    June 1, 2014 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  14. Jim Rome

    The only way Republicans can further exploit Benghazi for political gain is by shooting Nascar Benghazi T-shirt guns during the hearings.

    June 1, 2014 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  15. Jim Rome

    13 Embassy Incidents under Bush – "United we Stand!"
    4 Embassy Incidents under Obama – "Investigate it seven times!"

    The only difference is Republicans are desperate now.

    June 1, 2014 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  16. Commojoe53

    If this useless, ragged-looking, old cow thinks her incompetence and failure to protect or help Americans is going to be forgotten, she's in for a RUDE awakening. This sorry excuse for a human being (the "what difference does it make" comment alone should tell people she doesn't CARE about our people AT ALL) will NEVER be president. The cow has too much baggage.

    June 1, 2014 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  17. androulla nicolaou klidonas

    Hello all of you Republicans Presidential Candidates in the past elections,

    I wanted a Republican President in the White House not Obama he is nothing other than a rodent controlled by movies mafias medias, and others around him, I have seen plenty in NY and DC while I was there for a couple of years of sheer hell there and in NY.I wanted to meet you all also, mail stolen then and violators where I resided also,I was nothing ather than a hit and now in NY for one year again they started w/there greeds and lies the same attornies media and others who wanted me dead over one divorce of greeds my worth before divorce was $1,500,000 and brutality and lies of greed and #s and name macth ups and mappings also.I sent some mail to some Gov Andrew Coumo of NY and others,Please forgive my spelling I write under stress and control unable to say much because of heat on me,I would of liked to meet you and speak w/you then and now. Im the youngest of 4 children to the late neophytou nicolaou who was born 1927-1983 who was mapped also in DC like others, you know books political names,we were born in Cyprus I was born 1960 in the south Limassol Cyprus, my Cyprus name at birth Androulla Nepohytou Nicolaou,still single not by choice and use my married name androulla (andrea) klidonas, 53-67 65 place
    Maspeth NY 11378, NYs criminals attorneys judges and others w/Obama made me homeless in DC and all covered it up that I was not well, even the stupid protests in DC in front of also the white house were a waste from many states also and the M L KIng statue ceremony I was so abused in DC that I was unable to attend, Media news movies and others are horrible in NY to me not one has answered my calls and letters even in DC, send this to Santorum,Romney,
    Perry, Gingrich and to the the politcians and officilas to do right by me and to protect me everywhere Im not coputer sappy and my $700 computer does not send outgoing mail unless the email me first and that is also mail at times stolen,I do not leave it around in the illegal basement apt rental here, my ex-husband owns a house and me in a cheap rental w/abusers and liars, I do not lie. They stole my monies thru divorce w/phoney Laws, ex-husband and attornies as mentioned.

    June 1, 2014 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  18. androulla nicolaou klidonas

    I have just written to you,

    I was told a few days after days after the presidential elections started that Obama was to win the election in DC I the apartment in NW,They also told me an earthquake was going to hit DC then, it was not easy in DC for me,they chase people away and many have died matchups,I hope to be residing abroad one day I do not like the states.I have not been told who will win the next Presidential election of the U.S.A.

    June 1, 2014 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  19. kamarasune

    She lost an Ambassador on her watch! Not a note pad or pencil but an Ambassador and those trying to protect him. Eat it witch!

    June 1, 2014 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  20. Jerry

    Killery and 0-Bama screwed up, PERIOD! They are just NOT honest and adult enough to admit it. The Democrat's lying game simply continues... YES, and it is all supported by most of my other fellow Democrats.

    What a shame. América will remember...

    June 1, 2014 04:53 am at 4:53 am |
  21. ProudDem

    Just the factual errors is many of these posts, it's incredible. The belief that Hillary Clinton personally reduced security at this outpost, that she somehow issued a stand down order and didn't "send help" when the attack was happening? Then this video nonsense. Protests were happening all over the world about this stupid video at that time, and yet people can say without a doubt that the terrorists who attached that night DID NOT use it as an excuse...again, incredible.

    We have dozens of attacks in the last few decades, thousands of people killed....yet somehow, these 4 are the most important. Like her or not, her assertion that these 4 deaths are being used as political leverage is obviously true.

    June 1, 2014 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  22. Dar

    If it smells and taste likes dog dung, it most likely is "dog dung".
    If anyone thinks for a second that Hillary isn't lying,
    a. You must be a democrat.
    b. You must be from another planet.
    c. You are just a follower of the what's happening now movement.
    d. You must be a politician, because all Politicians lie and birds of a feather flock together.
    All politicians are in office for one reason and one reason only! Guess what, it isn't to help you. This is all a big game of cat and mouse and sometimes the cat wins and sometimes the mouse wins.

    June 1, 2014 05:56 am at 5:56 am |
  23. Massachusetts Democrat Against Clinton

    Benghazi is a fair discussion to have if Mrs. Clinton runs for President. I am chagrined when she calls this an exploitation - that is tantamount to a whitewash,. If this preemptive strike by Mrs. Clinton is a glimpse into how she would run the Oval Office, this nation cannot afford to elect her. There are many other qualified democrats who would be much better for the country. Mrs. Clinton is too much a partisan person and one who has a history oF not being transparent with important issues. Sorry, but as a Dem, I'd like to see somebody else run.

    June 1, 2014 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  24. True Blue Believer

    I just want the Democratic party to tell me what to believe and who to vote for . America will have Hillary Clinton as our new President , and the Republicans are frightened at her credibility and poise and sheer political power . She will be President . America loves Hillary , and you soon will , too . Vote blue , and America wins .

    June 1, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  25. Daisy Cutter

    I just want the Democratic party to tell me what to believe and who to vote for . America will have Hillary Clinton as our new President , and the Republicans are frightened at her credibility and poise and sheer political power . She will be President . America loves Hillary , and you soon will , too . Vote blue , and America wins .

    June 1, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
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