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. MaryM

    For all you repubs, the transcripts from the hearings are online for everyone to read. So, You cant lie anymore about what happened and about the CIA operations in Benghazi. You lose repubs

    May 30, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. islandivan

    Hillary should have had the claass to resign just as the VA Secretary has just done for being in charge and having the ultimate responsibility toward the safety of Americans and failing in those duties.

    May 30, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. Steve

    Well Hillary, what does it matter anymore anyway? If ignorance were truly blissful, you Hillary would be the most blissful person on the world. You had my vote in 2008. Never again you miserable nasty woman.

    May 30, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. NMike

    Haha! The GOP is DESPERATE – and this proves it. They have so little left to try to shake up their base – Clinton is going to crush them in 2016 and they know it.

    May 30, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. Al

    EXPLOIT really, does she forget that she was RESPONSIBLE for the lives of those 4 men. Does she realize that she turned her back on them all because, according to her she needed her beauty sleep, yet she wakes up and these 4 men will never wake up again. Good job Hillary, if only telling the truth were in your vocabulary. You failed as a SofS you deserve nothing more and no more offices. You failed you need not apply of any other position, your kind is not welcomed anymore.

    May 30, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC



    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.
    That would be the war that was not unsanctioned by the United Nations, and voted against. When Bush could not get what he wanted from the U.N., he ignored them and went to the U.S. Congress, instead. As far as international law is concerned, the Iraq War was highly illegal.

    May 30, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. Wes

    She politicized it when she told the families of the dead Americans they will get the guy who made that video. She knew the truth, spun it and lied.

    May 30, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  8. Lipan

    Of course she's defiant....she has to be because it's all on her. Long to short she's opportunistic (everyone see's this in her personality....she's a trained attorney turned politician) and Chicken "S" she turned away/tried to spin the truth on Benghazi. She is bad news for the government and she is bad news for the country. Yes....let's move on without her because "it really does make a difference."

    May 30, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. Don

    Hillary, You got your "Call at 3 in the morning ..." you were found to be totally unprepared. Your state department, your missions to protect, your failure.

    May 30, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. Don

    BTW, you won't participate in the inquiry "on the backs of dead Americans" but you will leak a book chapter to make money from it.

    May 30, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. Lipan

    Sly, you've got this all backwards. It was her own operating policy that caused this. The embassy went to the Department several times asking for additional security assets and the Department (read the Dept. administration) refused the request. It has nothing to do with the Congress.

    May 30, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  12. NoSlack 2327

    Madam (Former) Secretary...
    Four good men are dead. Why is that unimportant to you?

    You are so preoccupied with your elections that you put spin on this, too.

    Shame on you.

    May 30, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  13. Lipan

    BeverlyNC, yes there could have been. The Department could have granted the request for additional security assets.

    May 30, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. Freedom Storm

    Here comes Hillary’s Marxist Socialist Orchestra and Chorus, of “Vitriol Against Truth” fame, continually repeating the same old song, one of its greatest hits, the “Revision of History” concerto in b-flat.
    She is either too stoop id to realize that we all recognize it every single time it is played, or she’s just that evil.

    May 30, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  15. GTS58

    Typical Clinton political tactics, the old Hag has learned well from hubby Bill over the years. She has learned the lessons of deceit, obfuscation and outright lying and she is indeed a proficient an skilled liar! So sad that she is even considered presidential material but nothing should come as a surprise after the election of the interloper Soetoro/Obama!

    May 30, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. UpeopleRcrazy

    You crazy kids...I've been reading your posts. Your foolishness is truly scary. I can be a real dummy sometimes in this life, but I have something called COMMON SENSE. When you are sitting in front of FOX News and you see the 2.5 second vid clip of Hilary saying 'what does it matter' being played over and over and over again, why does that not spark in you a curiousity to find out more about it?? As some here have already indicated, if you watch the entire thing you see that she is frustrated at being asked the same questions over and over and over again and answering the those questions over and OVER and OVER again. At that moment they had been badgering her with a specific question to which she couldn't possibly answer in any meaningful or valuable way.

    I'm all about our freedom to have our own opinions and to express them freely. But with that privilege comes a responsibility to: EDUCATE yourself about any topic that you are yammering on about...SEEK out unbiased information from different sources and USE some kind of reason to formulate your conclusion. Essentially...KNOW WHAT THE HECK YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT!!!

    You are never going to get a fair and accurate picture of anything from FOX News or, to be fair, from CNN or any other all news network - regardless of the party to which they lean. They all have agendas and they distort everything to those agendas. Be a skeptic when you hear or read something. Engage your brain and ask questions!!!

    That is all. Rant over. LOL

    May 30, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. Jackson


    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!


    Tried to pursue the firing of state attorneys general, but kept meeting roadblock after roadblock because Bush cited "executive privilege" for his entire staff, over and over and over. Did the GOP cry for investigations over any of that? Of course not.

    Try to find out how much money was spent on an illegal war. You can't. It was left off the books on purpose, and went without bids to friends of the VP. Conflict of interest? As if the war crimes committed by starting the war weren't bad enough. Did the GOP cry for any investigations over that? Of course not.

    But the GOP will spend over 30 million investigating Whitewater only to come up empty handed.

    You can see the GOP agenda clearly. We will ignore anything our own party does, no matter how illegal, and will only cry about investigating people we know stand in the way of us winning the White House.

    It's beyond pathetic.

    May 30, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. CryBabies

    Tired of the BS HRC. This could, quite possibly, be the beginning of the end. Everything else seems to be crumbling around this administration...even the midterm democrat politicians are distancing themselves. Anybody with any brain capacity knew this would eventually "hit the fan" . Time to do more fundraising President Obama.

    May 30, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC


    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!
    You sound like you have been fully indoctrinated by Rand Paul's false and misleading statements. No one quit. Clinton had announced her retirement as Sec'y of State back in 20110, long before the attacks ever took place.

    May 30, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. fungust0ad

    There is so much about the Clintons I wish I didn't know. But everything I do know is inconsequential in terms of actual accomplishment. But their uncanny survival skills have allowed them to amass enough wealth and connections to almost ensure the Presidential Prize for Hillary. The inevitability of it is stifling and overbearing to the extent that any potential opposition is immediately neutralized by their rapid response messaging army. But what does another Clinton presidency potentially offer? More partisan stridency and bickering, dangerously incompetent foreign policy and pandering to corporate greed.

    May 30, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. CaliforniaAC

    Repugs will keep asking questions until they get an answer they like; all the investigations up to now have been for naught when all the GOP wants is to tar and feather Hillary with false accusations, lies and false indignation for an unfortunate incident where 4 Americans died. Yet, the thousands of American soldiers that died in Bush's war in Iraq under false pretenses are not valued and to this day no one has been held accountable.

    May 30, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. Jackson


    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.


    And it never ceases to amaze me how the GOP can focus on four deaths in Benghazi and ignore the four thousand in Iraq, killed during an illegal war.

    I wonder if any of the GOP who voted ***AGAINST*** increasing the funding for security at Benghazi will be forced to testify as to why they voted against the increased funding that could have helped.

    Of course they won't testify. This isn't about getting to the truth. This is about making the Democratic frontrunner for President look bad. If Hillary announced tomorrow that she would not run for President, the GOP would drop this investigation. They would then start investigating whoever the new frontrunner was.

    May 30, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. Rosslaw

    The republicans have got to learn not to be so transparently joyful when Americans are killled overseas. Its very bad form and tells the bad guys that they can count on the republicans as allies. BTW, does anyone see the irony of republicans conducting 9 investigations for political gain to investigate their charge that the Obama administraftion gamed the Benghazi attack in some way for politicial ends? Anyone?

    May 30, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. Jackson


    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.


    Bush and Cheney got away with war crimes.
    Reagan got away with High Treason.

    But, of course, typical GOP to whine and cry about Hillary.

    Truly pathetic.

    May 30, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  25. uhuh

    "What difference does it make" will follow her to her last day on earth!
    Only with those people that do not know the meaning of context and have the brains to read the entire statement -aka

    "With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they'd they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we'll figure out what was going on in the meantime."

    May 30, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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