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. tom l

    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.
    ===

    You forget that there was a huge uptick in anti-muslim videos on youtube from 2002-2008 that caused all of those attacks. And you also forget that the very person you think is so ultimately qualified for president voted for the wars.

    May 30, 2014 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  2. Tony D

    Rudy NYC
    it would have taken for fighter jets to arrive, play hide and go seek with the intruders?
    -–

    "intruders"??? Seriously Rudy?! Now you make them out to be simple burglars. Just more dishonesty from the left.

    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.
    --
    This is another absolute LIE. It was NOT known he was dead within the first hour. They didn't know where he was or what his condition was. Looters coming after the attack found him and brought him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead but that was NOT within the first hour. Why do you lie so much in here?

    But to use Hillary's defense, WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?! The Ambassador wasn't the only American whose life was on the line. There were MANY others there. Were they not worth trying to save?

    May 30, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. 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."

    Yawn yawn yawn yawn yawn yawn yaaaaaaaawn. Thousands of hours of testimony, thousands of pages of transcripts, tens of thousands of pages of documents produced and the GOP/Teatrolls have been completely unable to prove any of their accusations (and have suffered the embarrassment of having several of them disproven).

    Yes, tom, we know...you desperately want to damage Clinton for 2016 and you desperately want to find some way to claim that Obama "cheated" in order to win in 2012, because accepting that Mittens and the GOP/Teatrolls lost was a result of the populace rejecting their policies and ideology is anathema to you. We know. Now go eat your nilla wafers and milk and get ready for your mid-morning nap.

    May 30, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  4. rs

    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.
    ____________________
    You are so fixated on "the truth", Tom, what about Mr. Issa? Has he not made a mockery of the "investigations" by selectively editing and taking testimony out of context? Isn't he lying to America by assembling a false construct of the events? Didn't he look foolish and partisan by bringing in a witness he knew was not telling the truth about the events in Benghazi? All of that is on record, Tom, and even played out on 60 minutes (further damaging their journalistic cred).

    I really think you really need to really examine yourself, in light of all of your public statements about "truth" and honesty (which accuse everyone else here of failing to achieve) to better understand your own obsession with this obvious fraud of the GOP- not only their immoral, illogical assault on Ms. Clinton, and the President, but their shameful fundraising off of the deaths of 4 Americans- the very ones for whom they cut security funding for. Be honest, Tom, if you are so afflicted by this one event- you would be utterly paralyzed by the Bush years (or virtually any other series of events in the Middle East and N. Africa from the last 20 years). Clearly that isn't the case.

    May 30, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  5. Sniffit

    " 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."

    Teatroll Rosetta Stone says: "Ermahgerd!!!! Obama won because he cheated!!!! Mittens and the GOP didn't lose because the majority of people rejected their policies and ideology!!!! We don't have to change....WE DON'T HAVE TO CHANGE!!!!!!!"

    May 30, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  6. Name. willard

    Keep out of dangerous with hillary clinton 2016

    May 30, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  7. patNY

    People are missing the bigger issue – what the heck were we doing having an ambassador and consulate in a region that was still in civil war?

    May 30, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  8. Donna

    "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."
    -–

    Well, well, well.... it now appears she thinks she can willfully ignore a Congressional investigation. Hillary Clinton thinks she is too important and above this huh? She thinks she can make her own rules and avoid answering real questions about what she did and did not do. Is this the type of person you want in the White House? Somebody who thinks they are above the law?! Her statements should be very alarming to people who believe in the rule of law. NOBODY is above the law, not even Queen Hillary.

    Her sham ARB, which she hand picked, and conveniently failed to interview Clinton as well as other top State Dept. people involved, gave her an easy out. Well, she will be subpoened and put under oath. If she refuses, we may see her cited for contempt as well. First Slick Willy and now her. Just doing whatever they want, to whoever they want, because they think they are royalty.

    May 30, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. Silence DoGood

    @Tony D
    "But to use Hillary's defense, WHAT DIFFERENCE 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. The transcripts are easy to find online.

    May 30, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  10. The REAL Truth...

    The GOP desperation continues... the right wing media/entertainment channels continue to push blase BS onto the low information electorate who couldn't even find New York City on a map, never mind Crimea!! And they slurp up the cool-aid and believe all of it.
    It doesn't matter if Hilary is telling the truth. The Republican have nothing that can touch her, and given they have only won ONE general election in the last 25 yrs (including being shellacked in the last 2), they are running scared and still don't get that MOST intelligent Americans are well aware of their message and methods, and solidly REJECTED both in 2008 and 2012, and will do in 2016.

    May 30, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  11. tiz

    If she is the democrats' best hope for president...... then the democrats will be in trouble. There is no way the establishment will take such a tainted old white girl as their candidate with so many other options available.

    May 30, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. alternate reality

    Get used to it Donna, she's the next president, like it or not.

    May 30, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  13. Liberal Garbage

    "What difference does it make?" Hillary
    She's garbage. Diplomatci froeign relations tanked during her watch.

    May 30, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. MaryM

    Ambassadors Stevens father is sick and tired of the GOP./TP using his son as a political pawn. Do you understand republicans? Do you even freaking care

    May 30, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. Sniffit

    "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?

    You're waaaay beyond herpy derpy today, tom. Pretty sure you've hit plaid speed on the tinfoil hat thrusters.

    May 30, 2014 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    smith

    Such hypocrisy by H. Clinton. Both sides play politics with tragic events or even non-tragic events.

    @Rudy-Your right, the GOP did brand people who didn`t side with them as unpatriotic. However, Dems brand people who disagree with them as racists. They are both wrong.
    ----------------------------–
    Your demagoguery never ceases to amaze. Tragedy occurs in Libya. Republicans begin crying foul play, launch several congressional investigations, and totally politicize the tragic events by focusing on who said what and when. Never mind the tragedy itself, and how to prevent future attacks. Mrs. Clinton points out these actions taken by her political enemies and declares that they politicized the attack. Now you come along and accuse Mrs. Clinton of politicizing the event because she called out her enemies who HAVE politicized the events. Right? Did I miss anything?

    Democrats do not brand people who disagree with them as racists. No one said all opposition to Pres. Obama is because people are racists. That's the false talking point concocted by the right wing to change the conversation from what was originally said, which was that some of the opposition to Barack Obama is rooted in racism. Some of it is. Anyone who refuses to acknowledge that reality is living in an alternate reality.

    May 30, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  17. alternate reality

    Has any one in the gop answered her question, what difference does it make? They oh so care about the four deaths, but just couldn't help themselves, they had to make money off it . Yup they really care, SMH.

    May 30, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  18. rs

    tom l

    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.
    ===

    You forget that there was a huge uptick in anti-muslim videos on youtube from 2002-2008 that caused all of those attacks. And you also forget that the very person you think is so ultimately qualified for president voted for the wars.
    __________________________
    Ms. Clinton was voting as the (then) President Bush requested. Should she have done otherwise and risk the wrath of the "if you ain't for us yer against us" GOP? Get real Tom. Besides- the proof of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld lie came after war was started. Facts and sequencing Tom, they are imperative to understanding the narrative.

    May 30, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  19. smith

    @rs-The Bush admin. didn`t blame any of the attacks on a youtube video. Instead of being outraged at the terrorist who did the act Susan Rice basically excused their behavior by saying it was a peaceful protest that went wrong because of an american made youtube video. The Obama admin. did this to themselves, they should have been straight right from the start.

    May 30, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  20. excuse my rant

    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...
    *breathe*
    ...that's what it's all about...
    _____________________
    OMG, that was great! I almost peed my pants. Keep up the good work, Sniffit.

    May 30, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    2. Why did Obama in the UN speech 2 weeks later say this:
    -------------------------
    You've been cherry picking again. Sweet. He was talking about the protests that were happening at U.S. embassies throughout the Muslim world. He's trying to make it clear that while the video may have come from the U.S., the U.S. government had nothing to do with either its' production or release. Any questions?

    May 30, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  22. Sniffit

    " Well, she will be subpoened and put under oath."

    She already did.

    "If she refuses, we may see her cited for contempt as well."

    Nobody will care about a blatantly politicized grossly partisan contempt vote that amounts to "you didn't say what we wanted to hear."

    May 30, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  23. Tony

    Tom I, you don't seem to understand. The CIA thought at the time the video tape was an explanation for the attack. An explanation does not mean it was the exclusive cause. Did Obama and Hillary say that the video tape was the EXCLUSIVE cause of the attack? Did Obama and Hillary say that terrorism was NOT the cause of the attack? Saying that the government will go after the people who made the video was not wrong. The CIA believed that the video was behind the attack. Intelligence failures happen. Ask Bush about Iraq.

    The rest of the world care about the video. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. They don't like it when other people attack their prophet. That was the reason Obama talked about the video. He was addressing a worldwide audience, not just people who were concerned about the attack in Benghazi.

    May 30, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Tony D

    Rudy NYC
    it would have taken for fighter jets to arrive, play hide and go seek with the intruders?
    -–

    "intruders"??? Seriously Rudy?! Now you make them out to be simple burglars. Just more dishonesty from the left.

    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.
    -
    This is another absolute LIE. It was NOT known he was dead within the first hour. They didn't know where he was or what his condition was. Looters coming after the attack found him and brought him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead but that was NOT within the first hour. Why do you lie so much in here?
    =========================================================================
    FACT: Amb. Stevens was last seen inside of a burning building, which he failed to exit, and presumed dead in the 1st hour.
    FACT: Help was "a few hours" away. The host country is responsible for security outside of the embassy.
    FACT: The right wing cannot stand the truth, which is why they are so fixated on talking points instead of facts.

    May 30, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  25. bigdoglv

    CNN is in full campaign mode. They bungled security, that is a mistake. But there is no excuse for the two weeks of lying. The jump shot to blame the video is one thing, but they knew within days that was not the case. Still they stuck to their story. That is not telling the truth no matter how you try to spin it.

    May 30, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
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