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. mikadocat

    Carter lost an election after a failed rescue attempt, Obama didn't want that risk so he went to bed and let them die, then lied about it.

    Hillary has to take the blame for Steven's being in Benghazi with no marines, in a facility with substandard security in the walls and grounds, and only an untrained local militia as guards. Marines with bullets might shoot somebody and she would have to do all those apologies over again.

    May 30, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    "(4) Why exactly couldnt we respond militarily in 8 hours? Aviano Air Force base is a few hours away. If we dont have fghters there why do we have such a large AF base there? if it was just a refueling issue, was Israel asked to provide inflight fueling? Are we expected to believe that we used to be able to react to the Soviet Union but now cant get a couple of fighters in the air? "
    Why couldn't we respond within 8 hours from a base that was "a few hours" away? Listen to your own question and you will hear the answer. It's simple math. Besides, what were fighter jets going to do, anyway? Bomb the compound with our people still inside of it, along with the rescue team that the right wing claims should have been sent in? What were the people inside the compound supposed to do during the "few hours" it would have taken for fighter jets to arrive, play hide and go seek with the intruders?

    Here's a fact that fails to circulate around the right wing bubble. It was known within the first hour of the attack that Amb. Stevens was dead, having been trapped inside of a burning building. The logic behind the critical arguments is lacking.

    May 30, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. alternate reality

    Its amazing how many simply can't accept the facts, it really is, and its no small wonder they are die hard Republicans,.... sigh....

    May 30, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. Lizzie

    Independent, you can't ask questions like that. According to Gurgyl everything is fabricated

    May 30, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  5. JustSaying

    Taken from the article...."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."

    That's not presenting a very neutral picture of the argument. The whole issue is that the Obama administration and people under Clinton's control knew that the attack was NOT "an angry mob responding to a video made in the US" but rather was a well orchestrated terrorist attack. Just days before Obama made a speech about how the US strategy dealing with terrorism was working well. To cover their tracks with the upcoming election they decided to fabricate a story that it was a "spontaneous" event and not a failure of the administration to protect the Embassy and its occupants. Everybody bought the lie in the media and all was working according to plan until documents and inconsistent testimony started popping up. Fox News kept/keeps the story alive otherwise it would have been brushed under the carpet along time ago and nobody would be held responsible for the deception and deaths of 4 Americans.

    The author of this article clearly attempted to hide the real points of contention between the administration and GOP and lead people to believe that it's just another attack on Hillary. Just as disingenuous as the DEMS putting out the lie that it was a "spontaneous" attack in the first place....

    May 30, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  6. mikadocat

    When have we seen a greater failure in a secretary o state, Carter era maybe, but Carter only really screwed up Iran, one country, Hillary left half a dozen in chaos or the hands of Islamic extremists, restored Russia as a global power, and yet .... SHE THINKS SHE DID WELL.

    Will her lies never end?

    May 30, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  7. rla

    The Clintons talking about not using Benghazi in politics???? Wow they have used everything imaginable as they claw their way to the top– What a sham!

    May 30, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  8. Gunderson

    Hey Don't blame me! I just work here! The story of old Gunderson's life. Nobody in charge!

    May 30, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  9. tom l

    Rudy NYC

    tom l posted:

    ... Howeva, since Hillary clearly lied (and you have basically acknowledged that by excusing it and saying you're ok with a "little white lie" that would be the turning point that you rightfully pointed out with the "mission accomplished" sign. The turning point here is what it's all about. When people realized we were lied to, and it's obvious by the Hillary statement to the father of the fallen navy seal and the subsequent speech at the UN 2 weeks later by Obama that they tried to tell us it was a video when they knew full well it wasn't. That, indeed, was the turning point.
    I see. So it really is all about the talking points with you, not the lost lives and how to prevent future such tragedies.

    You have a lot of nerve to say that it's about "talking points" and not about the fact that they lied to us. It is so sad that you don't want to get to the truth and are doing everything to cover it up and then try and deflect and make a ridiculous claim simply because I want to know why we were lied to. That is what this is about. We need our elected officials to be honest with us and they clearly weren't – your response is evidence of this as you don't want to know what happened but would rather try to discredit me. Clearly, you don't want to answer my 2 very obvious questions that demonstrate the lies we were told for WEEKS.

    May 30, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  10. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    At this point what difference does it make !!!

    Americans are still DEAD in Benghazi.

    The cover up continues.

    Mrs. Clinton FAILED in her DUTY.

    NO.... Mrs. Clinton we will NOT forget.

    May 30, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  11. TONE


    Hillary Clinton has to come right out and tell the truth, before the truth comes from others.

    The real truth or the gop truth.

    May 30, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  12. Sniffit

    You put your Benghazi in
    You pull your Banghazi out
    You put your Benghazi in
    And turn the facts all upside down
    You do the herpy derpy and
    Launch redundant investigations because you desperately believe you can keep this issue in front of the drooling MSM sensationlists all the way to 2016 in the hopes that it helps you damage the other party's most likely nominee, who is beating you in all the polls...
    ...that's what it's all about...

    May 30, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  13. Peace

    What a clever, smart, intelligent woman Hillary is. She has really make my weekend before it has started. Quoting in her book that she won't participate in any Benghanzi investigation that really make much , much sense. This is what the GOP whatever is called "committee" was targeting. They wanted to interrupt Hillary, calling her any time they wish so she can leave her campaign and come to testify again and again. Now I hope the message is well received. She is not going to join those who want to politicise the death of 4 Americans. Now the ball is thrown to you GOP. You can decide to play alone or forget the game altogether.

    May 30, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  14. TONE


    What else do you expect her to say? This is just one of the many things that will contribute to her losing once again, she is old and stale and if she runs, will guarantee a GOP victory. Her window has closed and the Dem establishment knows it but doesn't know what to do.

    None of the hopefuls on the gop side is qualified to run for president,of the USA maybe president of Texas red,or nanny states which are a few, but not nationally. Hillary will wipe the floor with all of them.

    May 30, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  15. alternate reality

    Let's ask the obvious, was it known we needed more security, yes was that asked for, yes, so far so good. Now, who's authority was required, and what was their answer, the gop, and the answer was no, how is this the Democrats fault again?

    May 30, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  16. rs

    Jan Nappylotto

    It was just a "spontaneous group of protestors upset about the YouTube movie"
    – It was not a group of heavily armed and organized militia
    – Americans lost their lives... "what matter does it make"
    – the filmmaker was captured and thrown in jail
    – how can you catch those responsible when it was just a "spontaneous group of protestors"?
    You must not sleep at all at night pondering the conspiracies surrounding the12 different disasters that befell 61 State Department employees during the Bush years, right?
    Yeah, thoughts so.

    May 30, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  17. Silence DoGood

    @Jan Nappylotto
    – Americans lost their lives... "what matter does it make"
    I will correct this lie as often as I see it: Ms.Clinton said the "what difference" quote in response to hounding in the hearings over the motivation of the attackers. She was making a point that it was more important that four Americans died and future prevention than what was in the minds of the attackers. She was placing the deaths as top priority as opposed to what her Inquisitors were finding important.

    May 30, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. TONE

    H . Clinton is just a dirty old crook with a bag full of gimmicks and thank goodness for that makeup to cover up that mug .

    She is one of our greatest secretary of state, and you sir name one gop that is not a crook? republican bags of gimmicks accumulated over 30 years, a party of no ideas.

    May 30, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  19. Silence DoGood

    This "old gal" needs to retire.
    Conservative double speak flexible facts fun.
    Ms.Clinton is old, sick and brain damaged......
    ...... and has pulled off the political cover-up and power grab of the century.

    May 30, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. rs

    Rick McDaniel

    The persons to knock, are those who lied to the world, about what happened in Benghazi.........both Clinton and Obama. Both should be held accountable for their lies and deceit. Rice, was simply their pawn, to use to deceive the public and the media.
    You have to love the Right. Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and Rice could have, SHOULD have been tried for war crimes. The incoming Democratic President said no- it would not further the spirit of working together to fix America's problems, especially in a time of war. The Republicans? They banded together January 9, 2009, and swore to make the new President fail- "a one-term President", and have since threatened impeachment and "second Amendment solutions". for their radicalism and their electoral losses.

    Truth? The GOP has done NOTHING for America in 6 long years, and in fact have worked against the President, and the betterment of the economy and the American people. When do we get to treat the GOP for what they are? Public enemy # 1.

    May 30, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  21. Tony

    Tom I, for someone who is always defending himself, you sure have a problem with other people defending themselves.

    You may want to see a doctor. You seem to to enjoy getting beat up by people on this blog.

    May 30, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  22. TONE

    The person responsible for calling this waste of tax payers money investigation was a car thief.

    May 30, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  23. Sniffit

    "You have a lot of nerve to say that it's about "talking points" and not about the fact that they lied to us. It is so sad that you don't want to get to the truth and are doing everything to cover it up and then try and deflect and make a ridiculous claim simply because I want to know why we were lied to. That is what this is about. We need our elected officials to be honest with us and they clearly weren't – your response is evidence of this as you don't want to know what happened but would rather try to discredit me. Clearly, you don't want to answer my 2 very obvious questions that demonstrate the lies we were told for WEEKS.

    Yeah! Thousands of hours of testimony and hearings and secret "interviews" and thousands of pages of transcripts produced and tens of thousands of pages of documents produced through the other investigation just couldn't prove all of the GOP/Teatrolls' accusations so clearly it's time to launch another investigation and start from scratch because gosh dernitt, them elephants are tricksy and we know they're hiding in that there strawman...I mean strawberry...patch precisely because we can't finds 'em!!! The lack of any evidence to prove our accusations is proof that there's a cover up!!!!

    Let me be real clear: YAWN.

    May 30, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  24. tom l

    It's odd how nobody can answer these 2 questions that are pretty simple:
    1. Why did Hillary Clinton go up to the father of the fallen navy seal several days later at his funeral and say that we were going to arrest the maker of the video
    2. Why did Obama in the UN speech 2 weeks later say this:

    "That is what we saw play out the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well – for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and religion. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country. We not only respect the freedom of religion – we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe. We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them.

    I know there are some who ask why we don't just ban such a video. The answer is enshrined in our laws: our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech. Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. Moreover, as President of our country, and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so. Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views – even views that we disagree with. "

    You can joke all you want Sniffit but I can guarantee you that you will not have an answer to my questions and will try to discredit me, call me something like herpy derpy. Why are you okay with this administration lying to us so often and excuse it every time?

    May 30, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  25. Jay Grass

    I want to know two things....REALLY...why cant we have the same insurance Congress gets? We were federal employees too. and Why does the current budget want to raise our fees on TRI CARE, soldiers only insurance on top of this debacle?

    May 30, 2014 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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