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. sam

    IF Hillary and Obama had done their job, the 4 dead might not be dead. COMPLETE FAILURE of our extremely weak leadership!

    May 30, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. BeverlyNC

    Hillary should be defiant over a Republican witch-hunt. There is NOTHING that could have been done to prevent the attack other than Ambassador Stevens listening to warnings he should not go to Benghazi, because as an output, it could not be protected. He should stay at the Embassy. He went anyway.
    Second, Republicans have been denying funding for State Dept. security requests for several years.
    Republicans have already held 5 hearings on Benghazi and each time the conclusion was "no one was to blame" and "it could not have been prevented".
    Darrell Issa and John Boehner are playing "dog whistle" politics. They use the word to get their ignorant base, who don't even know what Benghazi is, to get all emotional and donate money.
    Where were all the hearings on the 15 embassy bombings under Bush? Republicans didn't care about those. They don't even care about our Veterans and filibustered the "Veterans Aid Bill" 3 times in one year.
    Republicans are the scandal and the remedy is to get rid of all of them come November so real work for the People can restart.
    Hillary was one of the best Secretary of State leaders we have ever had. We had a huge hill to climb to regain our credibility after Bush lied to all of them over Iraq. She is a great leader and Republican fake scandals and fake outrage does not change that.

    May 30, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  3. cjb

    Hey Hillary – let appoint Chelsea as Ambassador to Benghazi.

    May 30, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  4. Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi

    Most Republicans are wondering if we ever got the guy and think Benghazi is probably still alive, no thanks to Obama...

    May 30, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. Saboth

    Republicans after the Iraqi war killed thousands of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of civilians after a huge intelligence failure on the part of Republican leadership: "Mistakes were made, let's just move on."
    Republicans after 4 Americans were killed in a fluke attack on an American consulate (that happens numerous times every single presidency): "We are going to hold 100 inquiries on this until the truth is revealed!"
    The VA thing is more of a scandal than this, but not really, because these VA problems have been around for every president just like the embassy/consulate attacks have been around for every president.

    May 30, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. oilman

    god help us if that woman gets the presidency – she is one heckuva liar herself

    May 30, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  7. Solomon Walker

    Can you tell us, if any threat was ever made against Vince Foster by your or your husband or staff members employed by you or your husband, Mrs. Clinton?

    Please answer in detail, in complete sentences, and by Friday, June 13th.
    Thank you.

    May 30, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. sam

    Military were livid mad on the run way ready to go, but were STOPED by obama/Hillary.

    May 30, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  9. sly

    Republicans have American blood on their hands in Benghazi – refusing 3 requests by President Obama to increase security for the embassy.

    If not for the GOP – those 4 Americans would still be alive.

    The entire Republican House needs to be impeached.

    May 30, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. Bill

    This woman makes me sick. The Clintons have a long history of corruption surrounding them, and an equally long history of dodging the bullets from their corrupt activities. She should just retire and let the Clinton "Dynasty" die with her.

    May 30, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. Brad

    Anyone who QUITS while being investigated rather than pursue those who are responsible is a Lying No Good P-O-S. I sincerely hope Democrats run Hillary in 2016 so she can get beat again. PLEASE do it!

    May 30, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  12. mobull

    Won't participate in discussions of the event, but no problem doing it for profit.

    May 30, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  13. Zincwarrior

    Am I the only one sick to death of the Clintons and their constant drama? Is this the best the Democratic Party can do? The thought of four – eight more years of them just gives me gas.

    May 30, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. iceload

    Clinton's cat and mouse game of her presidential run is going to draw fire. It's way past time to put the Clinton's and Bush's behind us. I doubt we will survive another corporate candidate.

    May 30, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. Whereisthemiddle?

    I'm increasingly worried about the people who speak about communism, tyranny and socialism that do not understand what they mean. In order to protect the world from these things you must understand what they are and why they can be bad. What we have today are people using this words to fit their agenda and taking their meaning away. Tyrants do not hold elections. Communists do not allow open voting and socialism does not describe our social safety net systems. These words are more important that the political garbage that people are combining them with. Each time they are used to describe something they are not these words lose their meaning.

    May 30, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. rs1201

    "What difference does it make" will follow her to her last day on earth!
    She and Obama lied to the American People and she has the audacity now to be defiant? I'd like to say something totally vulgar to her but she's not worth my lowering myself to that level.

    May 30, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  17. J Smith

    I think that the Obama administration is just as capable of covering up a bad incident that occurred on its watch as any of the Republican administrations that came before it. The fact is, the Obama administration told Americans that the attack in Benghazi was the result of a spontaneous protest in Benghazi over a Floridian threatening to burn a Koran. That version of events was completely fabricated. The attacks were terrorist attacks, plain in simple and Obama always knew that. Just look at the date of the attack. The attack could never have happened if the Obama administration hadn't used the American military to oust Ghadaffi on behalf of its European allies. It went far beyond the "No Fly Zone" that the Obama administration was supposed to follow. The removal of Ghadaffi has been a disaster that has allowed radicals to gain power in Libya. Obama and Clinton can't deny that. The administration's record on Iran, Syria, Libya, Egypt, China and Russia has been very poor at best. America has lost a lot more power since the end of the Bush administration.

    May 30, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  18. Donna

    Hillary Clinton also lied in 1996 about being under sniper fire in Bosnia. This woman has a long history of lying to people. She is a lawyer so that should not come as a shock. Heck, she's been lying to herself about her marriage and Bill Clinton. Maybe she has simply lost touch with reality and can't tell fact from fiction and lives in a world of fantasy and denial.

    May 30, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. Tampa Tim

    By comparison, Republicans are far worse than skunk excrement.

    May 30, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. Tampa Tim

    Republicans make 70% of Americans sick.

    May 30, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Tampa Tim

    Sam – You lie!

    May 30, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. kevin

    Republicans...LOL...

    May 30, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  23. freedom

    Hilary Clinton exploited herself with her disgusting outburst "What difference does it make?!" She OWNS it!

    May 30, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  24. PushingBack

    Go ahead and keep beating on her...Hulk Hillary only gets stronger and will SMASH the GOP.

    May 30, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    What difference does it make. Traitor scrum biiatch whose sole accomplishment is dodging sniper fire in Bosnia lol.

    May 30, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
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