Hillary Clinton's recent statement that her "biggest regret is what happened in Benghazi" led to a media feeding frenzy who treated her statement as a groundbreaking revelation, while ignoring the fact that immediately following the attacks, Clinton accepted responsibility multiple times including during her testimony with the Senate and House committee.
Clinton Calls Benghazi Attack Her "Biggest Regret" From Tenure As Secretary Of State
Hillary Clinton: "My Biggest Regret Is What Happened In Benghazi." Time magazine reported that during a January 27 appearance at the National Automobile Dealers Association meeting, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the September 11, 2011, attacks on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya her "biggest regret":
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that her "biggest regret" from her time at Foggy Bottom was the 2012 attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
"It was a terrible tragedy losing four Americans, two diplomats and now it's public so I can say two CIA operatives," Clinton said during a talk at the National Automobile Dealers Association conference. "Losing an ambassador like Chris Stevens who was one of our very best." [Time, 1/27/14]
Clinton's Comments Lead To Media Feeding Frenzy
New York Times Labels Clinton Regret Remarks "Some Of The Most Candid" She Has Made About Benghazi. The New York Times' report characterized Clinton's remarks as "some of Mrs. Clinton's most candid about the matter," noting that they "come as both critics and supporters race to define her tenure at the State Department." [New York Times, 1/27/14]
Politico Reports That Benghazi Is Hillary Clinton's "Biggest Regret." In a January 27 article Politico highlighted Clinton's comments on Benghazi, and framed her comments as a "signal" that Clinton and her aides increasingly "realize Benghazi remains an issue" for them:
The behavior of Clinton's aides increasingly signals they realize Benghazi remains an issue for her. Marking a new phase in the pushback, Clinton's adviser Philippe Reines recently appeared on CNN himself to address Benghazi following the Senate report faulting the State Department for the attack. [Politico, 1/27/14]
Boston Herald: Hillary Clinton's Comments On Benghazi A "Concerted Effort" For Her Campaign. In a January 28 Boston Herald op-ed, Margery Eagan, in response to Clinton's statements, accused her of "neutralizing Benghazi." Eagan claimed Clinton's statements are part of a "concerted effort to make up for the inexplicable quote that could haunt her campaign":
Yesterday, while claiming that "I'm not thinking about" 2016, Hillary told the National Automobile Dealers Association that her "biggest regret" as secretary of state was the 2012 attack. She called Benghazi a "terrible tragedy" and a "personal loss" in what's clearly become a concerted effort to make up for the ¨inexplicable quote that could haunt her campaign: "What difference, at this point, does it make?" [Boston Herald, 1/28/14]
Fox's Eric Bolling: Clinton Has Not Been So "Humble, Apologetic, And Worried About" Benghazi Before These Comments. On the January 27 edition of Fox's The Five, co-host Eric Bolling suggested that the remarks Clinton made on Monday were wholly different from the remarks she made before the Senate committee investigating Benghazi, using a selective clip out of context to prove his point:
BOLLING: OK. This morning, Hillary Clinton sat down with the National Automobile Dealers Association and said this.
CLINTON: My biggest, you know, regret is what happened in Benghazi. It was a terrible tragedy, losing four Americans.
BOLLING: Yes, so she wasn't always so -- I don't know, humble, apologetic and worried about it. Remember when she said this? [Fox News, The Five, 1/27/14]
Clinton's Comments Were In Line With Previous Statements She Has Made About Benghazi
Hillary Clinton Took Responsibility For Benghazi Attack During Congressional Testimony. During her January 23, 2013, testimony before Congress, Clinton repeatedly accepted responsibility for the attack:
CLINTON: As secretary, I have no higher priority and no greater responsibility. As I have said many times, I take responsibility, and nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure.
Now taking responsibility meant moving quickly in those first uncertain hours and days to respond to the immediate crisis, but also to further protect our people and posts in high threat areas across the region and the world. It meant launching an independent investigation to determine exactly what happened in Benghazi and to recommend steps for improvement, and it meant intensifying our efforts to combat terrorism and figure out effective ways to support the emerging democracies in North Africa and beyond.
CLINTON: Well, obviously, I have thought about this almost constantly since that date, Senator, because, you know, I do feel responsible. I feel responsible for the nearly 70,000 people who work for the State Department. I take it very seriously. [Hillary Clinton, Congressional Testimony, 1/23/13, via CNN]
On CNN, Hillary Clinton Took Responsibility For Benghazi Attack. In an October 16, 2012 interview with CNN Hillary Clinton was asked about Benghazi and once again took responsibility for the incident:
CLINTON: I take responsibility. "I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They're the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision. [CNN.com, 10/16/12]
To WSJ, Clinton Accepted Blame for Benghazi. In a separate October 16, 2012 interview with the Wall Street Journal's Monica Langley, Hillary Clinton once again said that she takes responsibility for Benghazi. Langley reported that in the days before Clinton's testimony she "made personal calls to the lawmakers to show that she was taking responsibility." [Wall Street Journal, 10/16/12]
During A Global Townhall, Then Secretary Of State Clinton Said She Deeply Regretted The Attacks In Benghazi. Speaking with a group of young diplomats during a global townhall in 2013, Clinton said, "the loss of American lives in Benghazi was something that I deeply regret and am working hard to make sure we do everything we can to prevent"
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, my name is Sahara Sawar. I'm from Dubai, but a British Pakistani. My biggest question to you was: Firstly, are you planning on writing your memoirs already? And if you are following in the footsteps of Madeleine Albright in hers, where she said that her lasting regret was what happened in Rwanda, what would you say was your lasting regret?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, certainly, the loss of American lives in Benghazi was something that I deeply regret and am working hard to make sure we do everything we can to prevent.
When you do these jobs, you have to understand at the very beginning that you can't control everything. There are terrible situations right now being played out in the Congo, Syria, where we all wish that there were clear paths that we could follow together in the international community to try to resolve. So every day is a mixture of trying to end crises, help people be smart about using the tools of American diplomacy and development to join in with others who are facing similar crises as we are. [U.S. Department of State, 1/23/13]