Published on TheHill.com on June 3, 2014
When Hillary Clinton sat down to pen Hard Choices, her memoir that comes out next week, she had a simple explanation for her repeated insistence that the Benghazi raid was motivated by a “hateful video,” rather than a terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11. All she had to say was that we relied on the best intelligence available at the time.
True, the CIA talking points did not mention a video, and Mike Morrell, the former deputy director of the CIA, told Congress that he was surprised to hear then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice blame the video on the Sunday talk shows after the attack.
“That’s not something the [CIA] analysts have attributed the attack to,” Morrell told Congress, describing his reaction to seeing Rice blame the video.
But there was enough wiggle room in the talking points to permit Clinton to claim that she was misled by the intelligence.
Then, after the manuscript for Hard Choices was put to bed, the White House had to turn over to public view the memo that was really behind Rice’s deceptive comments: a Sept. 14, 2012, memorandum from White House staffer Ben Rhodes to Rice saying, explicitly, that she should “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
Rice did as ordered and so did Clinton.
Now, however, as the publication date of her memoir looms, the former secretary of State is holding an empty bag. Her explanation of her reliance on the video as the cause of the Benghazi attack directly contradicts the explicit directions we now know that Rhodes gave Rice. No fudge factor here. Just a plain directive: Blame the video.
In her book, Clinton attempts to sell the narrative that there were several motivations at work in the Benghazi attack. “There were scores of attackers that night,” she writes, “almost certainly with differing motives. It is inaccurate to state that every single one of them was influenced by this hateful video. It is equally inaccurate to state that none of them were. Both assertions defy not only the evidence but logic as well.”
The dual-motivation theory holds no water. On Sept. 15, 2012, just hours after the CIA sent its talking points memo to Congress, the CIA Libyan station chief reported that there had been no ground demonstrations. Morrell reported this information to Denis McDonough, the president’s deputy national security adviser at the time.
Had the watchdog group Judicial Watch not sued and unearthed the Rhodes memo, there was sufficient ambiguity to let Clinton’s dual-motivation theory hold water. Now her claim, exposed as a total fabrication, will be in print for all to see.
Clinton is trying to besmirch the investigations into Benghazi with the same paintbrush she and Bill Clinton used on Ken Starr in the Whitewater investigation. She dismisses them as politically motivated and clucks over how reprehensible it is to exploit those who have died by accurately explaining why.
But the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows that 58 percent of Americans believe President Obama is hiding information about Benghazi and that voters disapprove of Clinton’s handling of the crisis, 36 percent to 50 percent.
What should be a triumph — a new book and a tour — will turn into an ordeal by fire, as the truth of that terrible day closes in on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
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