Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Hillary Clinton Get beyond Benghazi?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Can Hillary Clinton Get beyond Benghazi?

Article excerpt

Whether or not she ever runs for president again, Hillary Clinton comes with a lot of politically-significant history - some of which qualifies as baggage.

Her time as an assertive first lady, especially on health care policy. Her voting record as a US senator. Her time as secretary of state in the Obama administration, which was marked by frequent flyer records but few major diplomatic breakthroughs.

The leaking of an important chapter in her new memoir "Hard Choices" (out June 10) gives a clue as to what Clinton herself thinks she needs to address head-on.

That's the way she and the rest of the Obama team responded when Islamic militants attacked the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, killing American Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other US personnel.

In a 34-page chapter titled "Benghazi: Under Attack" (obtained by Politico), Clinton writes that she "will not be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans."

"It's just plain wrong, and it's unworthy of our great country," she writes. "Those who insist on politicizing the tragedy will have to do so without me."

One of the main criticisms of the administration - including the Clinton-led State Department - is that the attack was initially portrayed, not as a terrorist attack, but as a spontaneous event in reaction to an anti-Islamic YouTube video.

But, Clinton writes, "There were scores of attackers that night, almost certainly with differing motives."

"It is inaccurate to state that every single one of them was influenced by this hateful video," she writes. "It is equally inaccurate to state that none of them were. Both assertions defy not only the evidence but logic as well."

But evidence and logic aren't necessarily the primary drivers in politics, including Republican-led congressional investigations and the way Democrats are responding.

"Hillary has been playing politics with this since the beginning, and she is launching an organized political defense," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said on "Fox News Sunday." "Their people are trying to preempt or stop any more criticism that she's been receiving on Benghazi. …

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