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. Jackson


    Hillary is going to get exposed in these upcoming hearings. They are aware of that in the Clinton camp and are working to try to minimize the damage. All the media has to do is play the tape of Hillary screeching "Why does that matter now , Why does the matter now". It is like chalk screeching on a blackboard. Look for a smoking gun regarding Hillary very soon now.
    By the way Hillary, the truth always matters.


    Were you this concerned over the deaths of over four thousand in a war started illegally? I'm betting you weren't.

    Lie and tell me you were. Lie and tell me you still want Bush and Cheney to answer for their war crimes.

    "The truth always matters"? What a lying piece of excrement you are.

    May 30, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  2. rs


    She has already spoken what she thinks about Benghazi: "what does it matter?"
    Gross and intentional misrepresentation of the facts. Ms. Clinton's statement referred to the cause of the deaths- not the fact that Americans died-a big difference that people like you and the Right perpetuate.

    May 30, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. Chris

    Clinton doesn't want to participate because that's how Clinton's deal with their failures. "I did not have sex with that woman". Wait, there's proof, oh well I just didn't understand what the word meant. "Benghazi is just a Republican political circus". Wait, it does look bad that I didn't do my job, "well what difference does that make now?"

    May 30, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. Blunt Talk

    The book is yet another attempt to back into the presidential race. It is no secret that Mrs. Clinton will run. She has been running since she took the Secretary of State position. The strategy is to make in look like the public is calling for her to run, which she will, reluctantly. She can go on the offensive without the appearance of running through her book and of course the tour to promote her book. This is standard strategy by almost every candidate regardless of the party. So lets not wonder if she will run, but when she will be forced to run. This will most likely be her last shot. Personally, I will not vote for her or any other Clinton, Bush or Kennedy. This elected royalty has got to stop.

    May 30, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. sly

    Ah, Republicans are so cute with their whining:

    "Where is His birth certificate? I think He is from Mars"
    "The President caused Hurricane Sandy to get elected"
    "Let's shut down American government forever"
    "Let's seceed the US"
    "A black man isn't allowed to be President"
    "Some arabs killed an American. Wah waaahhh. We've never killed any arabs"

    Ho ho ho - thank you for the amusement.

    May 30, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. jerrymcm1970

    "But there is a difference between unanswered questions and unlistened to answers."

    Well said Hillary. That sums it up perfectly.

    May 30, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. Kevin

    It was a cover up, plain and simple. Those denying it are playing politics and trying to protect their dear nominee.

    May 30, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  8. KAT

    Hillary has a track record of telling the truth. Why should we not believe her now?

    May 30, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Hilary Clinton and the other idiot pundits don't get is that they lied. I do not care what your politics are, we can not let our represenitives , republican or democrat, lie to us.

    May 30, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  10. philips66

    She didn't accomplish anything during the four years she served as America's top diplomat

    May 30, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  11. barbara451

    GOP running scared. Re Benghazi – – if they repeat a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it.

    May 30, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. Americans Wakeup

    Dear Hillary,
    Please Retire. There are much better women than you to take the position of president.
    ps this is not a monarchy

    May 30, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. tom l

    "Democrats do not brand people who disagree with them as racists."
    Lol. I know he's going to say that he's talking about politicians, of which we could rattle of Pelosi, Reid, and so many others that I can't count. I could also list Sniffit, rs, RUDY himself, Waku Up!, Mallory, Marie and every other gang member of that exact claim. We're all racists an bigots because we don't agree with Obama on many, many things.

    May 30, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. AmericansRights

    Still denying she is responsible for Americans being murdered, but then again look whom her boss is= liar in chief. She and oblunder are totally responsible for those murders and still to this day spout lies.

    May 30, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. reconmarine

    The Butcher of Benghazi is currently meeting with the Wizard of Wimps at the White House rehearsing their lies. The truth doesn't need rehearsing.

    May 30, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  16. Michael

    First, the SoS cannot literally protect every single diplomat world-wide ... and the Hose refused requests to increase security due to budget cuts and pandering to the PACs that provide money, untraced, mind you. Second, when the information became more detailed, what teh American People were told changed to reflect new information. If the right wants to hold Clinton to the fire for that, go back to "The World Is Flat" and complain why that point of view changed. Third, I doubt SERIOUSLY that there are "new questions" that haven't already been asked, and answered ... this is nothing more than a Witch Hunt. Why don't these P'taQ resolve the issues facing ALL of us: Infrastructure, inequality of pay, et cetera?

    May 30, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. Sandy

    This obvious cover up will be a stain on Hilary for good reason.

    May 30, 2014 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. terryrayc


    What war was started illegally? None that I can think of....oh wait you mean the wars started by an act of congress within the bounds of US wait that cannot be it because those were not started illegally.......nope I cannot think of one.....maybe the war of 1812.....not sure....go ahead and let us know.

    May 30, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  19. Doobie Wah

    None of this matters.
    Hillary Clinton will be our next president,
    and the GOP will have to manufacture another scandal.

    May 30, 2014 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. Fatty McWeed

    The next time you, your family member, your house or your car gets robbed, vandalized, assaulted, or insulted, ask yourself: "How did I fail to protect those near and dear to me?"

    I'll be writing my Republican congressmen on Capital Hill and my state on why it is that they can't seem to protect the citizens here in the US from a constant barrage of murders on a daily basis. Why are they FAILING to protect AMERICANS!

    May 30, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  21. The Real Tom Paine

    Sad that we are still talking about Benghazi as if its the tipping point for this administration. No one is going to have their mind changed by yet another circus being staged by teh GOP.

    May 30, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  22. ART

    Rethuglicans are excrement

    May 30, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  23. Infantryman1968

    If her former boss and her husband never took responsibility for anything why should she?

    Obama's America

    May 30, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  24. wbill

    On Sept 8, 2011 (as CNN reports) the State Department rescued a Pakistani Christian girl from persecution in a dramatic helicopter lift. This girl was going to be stoned and the State Department did the right thing. There was a story written that was going to trumpet the Obama administration, and the State Department's vast air wing,but that story had to be tabled. The Benghazi disaster occurred and the U.S. population would really be confused that the State Department has it's own air wing and did not have provisions to evacuate the Benghazi diplomats. Benghazi is a big deal because it shows that politics at the time ruled over human life. Susan Rice was lying to the public, who directed her? Obama did not call it a terrorist attack. Why? The answer is known by all and said by none. The election of Obama was on the line. The administration calculated a plan of action to cover, lie, and delay discovery until after the election. Well, it's after the election, let's have the truth. Hillary's 'what difference does it make' is the image portrayed and image is everything.

    May 30, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  25. billbfit

    I hope she doesn't run simply because I don't want to have to look at that thing for the next ten plus years. Man is she getting scary looking.

    May 30, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
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