In her new book “Hard Choices,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly claims there were Marines guarding the U.S. embassy in Tripoli at the time of the infamous Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya–a statement that appears to contradict the sworn testimony of senior officers.
The book, due out tomorrow, dedicates a full chapter to Benghazi, which has become a symbolic event for many characterizing the perceived failures of the current administration. Four Americans were killed in those attacks as the Defense Department scrambled to deploy a Marine Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team from Rota, Spain to Libya. Controversy still swirls about why the troops were unable to reach the site of the attack sooner, and the incident prompted Congress to fund an additional 1,000 Marine security guards for U.S. embassies around the globe.
Reportedly, Clinton seems to avoid the issue in her retelling of events.
Noting how many members of the public and Congress were surprised upon discovering “there were no U.S. Marines assigned to our Benghazi compound,” Clinton notes that Marines are assigned to only slightly more than 50% of the diplomatic posts throughout the globe, focused primarily on protecting, and if need be destroying classified items.
“So while there were Marines stationed at our embassy in Tripoli, where nearly all of our diplomats worked and which had the capability to process classified material, because there was no classified processing at the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, there were no Marines posted there,” Clinton writes.
It’s accurate that there were no Marines at the U.S. compounds in Benghazi – Clinton doesn’t go into it, but one of those compounds was a CIA compound with its own force protection.
But, as Gen. Carter Ham, the former commander of Africa Command, testified before Congress on June 26, 2013, “there was no Marine security detachment in Tripoli.”
A Clinton aide told Tapper that Clinton is not wrong here, but is talking about the period after the attack, when a Marine guard unit was sent to Tripoli. But the passage itself hardly makes that clear.
As a prospective presidential frontrunner for 2016, Clinton’s actions and words are already under heavy scrutiny. She has come under fire particularly from the Republican right, which has championed the victims of the Benghazi attacks and criticized Clinton’s handling of the tragedy.
This passage will undoubtedly raise even more questions for Clinton in the days ahead.