Saturday, January 02, 2016

Interview with Hillary Clinton about Benghazi

“Somebody’s lying,” I said to Hillary Clinton. “Who is it?”

“Well, it’s not me,” she answered. “That’s all I can tell you.”
Tom Eastman, Mark Guerringue, Hillary Clinton

This was last Wednesday when Hillary’s huge entourage returned to The Conway Daily Sun’s office for another interview. She’d been there in 2007 during her first presidential campaign but I was still teaching then and I missed it. This time I really wanted to be there, so I drove twenty-five miles in a snowstorm, hoping she wouldn’t cancel. She didn’t.
Few journalists are able to pin her down because she controls who gets to ask her questions as well as what those questions will be. I don’t think she was expecting any tough ones at the Sun interview. Sun publisher Mark Guerringue’s opening comments included a reference to the Benghazi attack and her conflicting claims about what caused it. She referred to several congressional investigations, saying: “If people don’t want to accept the facts, there’s nothing I can do about that… and for people to use [Stevens’] death, Seans’s death, and the death of the two CIA contractor’s for political purposes really dishonors them and… their whole purpose is to somehow derail me. And I understand it’s nothing but politics to them but it’s not just politics to me.”

I inserted myself at this point, saying: “I have a specific question about that if I could interject.”

“Sure,” said Mark.
Turning to Hillary, I said, “You mentioned the families of the Benghazi victims and the discrepancy Mark brought up about your email — or conversation maybe — with your daughter…”

“Um-hmm,” said Hillary.

“…about it being an al Qaida-like group, Ansar al Sharia. Then you told an Egyptian diplomat in a phone conversation that it was a planned attack and not a protest. Umm, but then, when the bodies were brought back, you spoke to the family members and you told them, they say that you told them, this was a spontaneous demonstration. And then George Stephanopolous asked on This Week: “Did you tell them it was about the film?”
Hillary on This Week

“Um-hmm,” she said.

“And you said, ‘No.’ Now, somebody’s lying…”

“Well first let me say,” she interjected, but I pressed on.

“…Who is it?”

“Well, not me. That’s all I can tell you,” she continued. “But, you know, people were incredibly emotionally distraught. Let, let’s give everybody a little bit of breathing room here and recognize that, [pause] There — I mean I-I’m trying to remember what is in the public record and what isn’t. Let’s just say that some of the families didn’t even know that their sons were working for the CIA and were in Benghazi. This was a huge emotional blow, and I’m very sympathetic to that. I can only tell you what the facts were. That period when I talked to the Egyptian Prime Minister was in that bubble when we thought there was a terrorist group taking credit for it, and that’s what we said. And when they withdrew, and when the intelligence community, led by the CIA, basically said we don’t know yet. Because remember, the CIA and the intel community was guiding us about what they thought happened and we had to rely on that. We didn’t have any independent information or verification. All this material was coming in. The CIA was sorting it out.”
There were several places here where I wanted to interrupt her, but I restrained myself and let her go on.

She went on, saying, “And if you look at the reports that were done, ah, by the minority on the Benghazi Committee, because it’s a much more reliable source than the Republican majority. They go through, chapter and verse, timing, about what happened, when, and the bottom line is what happened is that people were doing the best they could dealing with information that was changing, and the CIA wrote and approved the talking points that were used, ahh, and it was also true that from Egypt, to Tunisia, to Pakistan, the video was the primary spark that was sending people into protesting against our facilities. All of this was happening simultaneously. It wasn’t either/or as much as people want to get to the bottom of it. It was an amalgam of information and action.”

“I’m sure those people were distraught,” I said.

“Yes,” she said.

“Three different people — Tyrone Woods’ father said — about you — that you said, ‘We’re going to have those people arrested who were responsible for the death of your son.’ Sean Smith’s mother reported, ‘She [Hillary] said that it was because of the video.’ And then Glenn Doherty’s sister said that, “You chose to, in that moment, to basically perpetuate what you knew was untrue.’ So, all three of them say you told them that.”
“Well,” she said.

I ignored her and continued, “And you say you didn’t tell them that.”

“I can only tell you what I know happened,” she said. “I can’t, I can’t speak to them. I can tell you what Chris Steven’s family believes. I can tell you what Sean Smith’s wife believes. I can tell you what other family members believe, because yes,”

“But you didn’t tell them that,” I said.
“I did not tell them that, but, I can’t recite for you everything that was in a conversation where people were sobbing, where people were distraught, where groups of us — the president, the vice president — we were all making the rounds, talking to people, listening to people, and I was in a very difficult position because I had not yet said that two of the four people dead were CIA. Because we were under, ah, very strict directions, from the CIA, not to reveal that yet. So this was — this was — again, part of the fog of war. And, you know, I regret that anybody [pause] has a [pause], you know, an attitude or feeling that I do not [pause] think [pause] is accurate, but I’m not going to do anything other than express my sympathy for them because, I think they deserve it. They were, people who lost their children. They have every right to believe whatever they want to believe, but the facts don’t bear it out.”
Being part of a team I dropped it there, not because I wanted to — especially when she said, “the CIA wrote and approved the talking points that were used.” — but because I could not dominate the interview with about twenty others present who also wanted to question her.
Carly Fiorina

Coincidentally, that very morning I did a telephone interview with Carly Fiorina, the other woman running for president, and told her about the pending Clinton interview. I said if you could ask Hillary one question, what would it be? Without hesitation, Carly said: “Why did you lie? Why did you lie to American people the morning after the Benghazi attack?” I told her that’s exactly the question I chose. Carly’s interview deserves its own column, which is coming up next.
For three years, I’ve been angry that Hillary Clinton, President Obama, Susan Rice, and others, claimed it was a spontaneous demonstration over a video that killed four Americans at Benghazi and not a radical Muslim terrorist attack. I wrote about it several times including here and here. They knew different, and they said what they knew was not true. That’s lying — but I never heard any journalist or member of Congress ever use that word to Hillary’s face — and that’s what I was determined to do when I had the chance.
I did, and the Sun’s account of the interview, containing an accurate but abbreviated mention of my exchange with Hillary, was linked by The Drudge Report. From there it was picked up by dozens of media outlets. My intent here is to give readers a complete and accurate account our five-minute exchange.
Podcast of interview


Mr. E said...

I glanced at your column and laughed. Again? Started to read it to see if there was anything new. Yawn.

Even House Republicans aren't shy anymore about admitting that the Benghazi Committee is a partisan farce. After failing to produce any new information on the tragic 2012 attacks at Benghazi despite a 17-month investigation, they tried the email angle.

The committee has taken on a role as a taxpayer-funded arm of the Republican National Committee, spending $4.6 million of your money (which they are being called on to reimburse) and careening from subject to subject in an attempt to manufacture scandal.

Well, they succeeded, alright. The Benghazi Committee isn't investigating a scandal, the Benghazi Committee IS the scandal. What's been discovered so far is an abuse of Congressional power, leaking and lying to the press, and alleged violations of several laws and Congressional rules.

I don't plan on voting for Hillary, but it is hilarious how scared conservatives are of her, and the low depths they will sink to try and derail her.

Keep it coming, chumps!

Tom McLaughlin said...

I bet Bernie is your man. I'm interviewing him Monday morning.

You probably won't like that write-up either.

Mr. E said...

Oh, I'll like it. It will be fun to see what mean spirited bullcrap you will pull out in order to degrade an old man of integrity. I am betting your piece will be especially vile because Bernie does not suffer fools gladly, and will chew you up and spit you out, which will get you especially angry. I am really looking forward to the column!

It is interesting...I just just googled "conservatives against Bernie Sanders" to see what they had to say, and almost all the top sites to appear were columns about how conservatives LIKED him. But I guess in your case you just can't see takes a man with integrity himself to recognize it and respect it in others.

Tom McLaughlin said...

I disagree with Bernie on almost everything, but I know he says what he thinks and I can respect that. I won't go after him the way I did Hillary, but I'm not sure what my question will be yet. I'll get at least one and maybe a follow-up or two.

Anonymous said... light of the fact that there's no comparable candidate to Mr. Sanders on the other side, perhaps contact Peter Shumlin for a "What would you like to ask Bernie..?" inquiry?
Bearing in mind that In My Humble Opinion, he too is fond of dictating what "Our American Values" are, in defense of an illusion of "free stuff" in exchange for unsustainable, diminishing, "progress".(well, and votes of course)
Then there's ALSO the matter of migratory career political "scientists", (ie) "White Flight" progressive NIMBY socialists vs. (ie) Free State Project immigrants.
Or just ask him "If you were a tree, what would your sprit animal be?" I suppose.

Tom McLaughlin said...

Well, Mr. E, Bernie cancelled the interview, but I didn't know until I drove all the way over there this morning and I don't know if it'll be re-scheduled. I had some tough questions ready for him but I'll save them for another time.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh.
Well, the piece at "reason" citing the Sun interview has been linked by Instapundit.
I suspect crazy antics will ensue.

Tom McLaughlin said...

Media outlets running accounts of the above interview with Hillary so far:

Newspaper in Angola ran it

MikeL said...

The call came in at 3AM. Hillary turned over and went back to sleep.

Steve said...

Mr. McLaughlin, which do you think is the greater injustice: the lies the Bush administration told so they could start an unnecessary war in Iraq or the Obama administration’s lie that the assault in Benghazi was the result of a coordinated terrorist attack rather than a spontaneous response to a video?

Anonymous said...

Steve, could you elaborate on those lies?

Steve said...

One of the first and most obvious was Bush/Cheney’s attempt to link Saddam to Al Qaeda be declaring there had been dozens of “high-level” meetings between Iraqi defense officials and Al Qaeda operatives., which didn’t happen. They stated Mohamad Atta met with Iraqi intelligence operatives in Prague despite the CIA and FBI discrediting any such meeting.

They said we repeatedly interrogated an alcoholic, Iraqi defector, code named Curveball, who had refuge in Germany. Curveball was a chemical engineer who fled to German in 1999 after he embezzled from the government. After being classified as a refugee, he then changed his story by saying he worked on mobile biological weapons labs, an assertion the White House would repeatedly use. No U.S. individual every interrogated him. We relied on his Arabic accounts translated into German and then translated into English for us to read. The German and British intelligence suspected he was fraud, a fabricator and probably suffered from a nervous breakdown.

In the 96-page National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that made the case for war, most of the biological weapons section was solely based on Curveball’s claims.

Iraq’s secret attempt to refurbish its nuclear program was another issue. A single CIA agent, also working with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) heard of a report that Saddam sought to buy 60K aluminum tubes from Hong Kong. He concluded they must be used for uranium enrichment and presented it to the Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control (WINPAC). This was presented to Bush in April 2001. Tracking any such purchases and shipments was easy since the Iraqis made no attempt to conceal them. They faxed out multiple purchase orders, negotiated over the cost and even advertised online for the tubes. We got a hold of the tubes when, at our request, Jordanians seized a shipment of them. Several nuclear scientists interviewed, along with the Dept. of Energy and the State Dept. Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) concluded the tubes were not compatible for use in centrifuges but were nearly identical to the ones Iraq used in their conventional rocket launchers. This nuclear threat that didn’t exist was some of what Cheney fed to the NYT as a confidential source in the now infamous Sept. 7, 2001 article making the case for war. Cheney and other White House officials fanned out that Sunday on all of the talk shows to highlight Saddam’s threat and coincidentally relied on that article as proof. This discredited nuclear threat was also the basis for Bush’s apocalyptic prophecy of the smoking gun being a mushroom cloud.

It's getting late and I need to get to bed. I'll pick this up again tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what's worse, plagiarized interpretation of history, or a clear and present danger concerning the immediate future.
Let's have a look at the Eastern, and Western omelets, from the last seven years of professional "egg breaking", shall we?
What IS the difference between a Democrat and a Socialist? Oh, Progressive Democrat is BETTER?
But if "history" is what you seek Brian, let's have the resume/cv/rap sheet of current candidate Clinton's career to date. In graciousness, starting AFTER the Sophomore year in college.
Column A, actual achievements. Column B, "problematic".
OR, "we" could chat about the Kennedys, maybe Pres. Wilson and HIS "posse", but I hardly feel that's a pertinent derailment/diversion from "current events".

MTHarpooner said...

THAT was a brilliant piece of reportage Tom! Great work! It is so refreshing to hear SOMEBODY ask Hillary the questions that demand answers...or evasive obfuscations, in her case.

Steve said...

In mid-2002, when the Bush administration was compiling its case for war, George Tenet met with the Senate intelligence committee to brief them on the latest intelligence regarding Iraq’s WMD capabilities. His conclusion was that Saddam was rebuilding his nuclear capacity, they had better than 500 locations throughout the country were WMD were hidden and they developed UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) capable of delivering chemical and biological agents that could possibly reach Israel. Dick Durbin and Bob Graham asked to read the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the matter. None was prepared. An NIE is the intelligence community’s most current summary of any geopolitical issue. The found it odd that the White House didn’t request one from the CIA. When one was finally completed, it was classified and kept in a secure room at the Capitol. Peter Zimmerman, scientific advisor to the Senate foreign relations committee had access to the 96-page report and read it twice. He was alarmed. All of the blunt declaratives asserting Iraq’s possession of chem/bio agents and their active nuclear program were tempered, deeper in the document, with qualifiers, dissents and outright disagreements from other agencies. Zimmerman urged his peers to read the NIE saying the dissents were “shocking.” “Bush hadn’t asked for the NIE, nor – as the White House would later acknowledge – did he ever read it. Nor would most members of Congress. Senate aides would later calculate that no more than a half-dozen or so members actually went to the secure room where the highly classified NIE was kept under lock and key before the upcoming vote on Bush’s Iraq resolution.”

Another claim that fueled the mushroom cloud comparison was Bush’s claim that Iraq sought upto 500 tons of yellow cake uranium from Niger. The origin of the claim came from documents obtained, or created, by an Italian, Rocco Martino, who made a living selling documents and information to journalists, businesses and intelligence agencies. The documents were supposed to be signed agreements for Iraq to buy the yellowcake from Niger. Berlusconi received the documents shortly after 9/11 and forwarded them to U.S. and British intelligence. U.S. intelligence was skeptical from the start, because Niger’s uranium industry was controlled by a French consortium. 500 tons equaled one-sixth of Niger’s annual uranium production. This lead to Joe Wilson volunteering to go to Niger to research the claim. His prior foreign service experience in Africa and Niger, specifically, was substantial. He discovered nothing. Most of the uranium from the only two mines in the country was used in nuclear plants belonging to the countries represented by the consortium. The industry was rigidly controlled by them. The CIA even got the claim removed from Bush’s Sept. ‘12 UN Speech. The State Department also wanted it removed from the NIE but wasn’t successfully, and the CIA disavowed the claim shortly after its publication. The Washington Post eventually published what the intelligence community already knew; the documents were forgeries.

There’s so much more to all of this. Everything I’ve written is summarized or quoted from the book, Hubris, by Michael Isikoff and David Corn.

Jud Tirre said...

Hilly plainly lied and continues to lie. Telling a different story each time she is interview. Why not ask the parents who lost their sons who is lying.