An exchange between Hillary Clinton and Republican Rep. Jim Jordan (OH) in eleven hours of testimony before the special committee on Benghazi, appeared to reveal discrepancies in her accounts about the events surrounding the September 11, 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Libya. That attack resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other official Americans.
At the time of the attack, the Obama administration contended that it was the result of a spontaneous response to a contentious video, “The Innocence of Muslims,” that was uploaded to YouTube in the U.S. by an Egyptian Christian. The day after the attack, Clinton made a statement that tied the video to protests in Egypt and to the storming of the US embassy in Libya.
Rep. Jordan accused Clinton of playing politics by blaming the attack on the video to make it appear her diplomatic success in Libya was not tarnished by a terrorist attack.
"You did it because Libya was supposed to be ... this great success story for the Obama White House and the Clinton State Department,” Rep. Jordan said. “And now you have a terrorist attack, and it's a terrorist attack in Libya, and it's just 56 days before an election. You can live with a protest about a video. That won't hurt you. But a terrorist attack will. So you can't be square with the American people."
Clinton responded to Jordan that one of the leaders of the attack, Ahmed Abu Kattala, cited his outrage over the controversial video as his motivation for attacking the U.S. facility. "None of us can speak to the individual motivations of those terrorists who overran our compound and who attacked our CIA annex," Clinton said. "There were probably a number of different motivations. I think the intelligence community, which took the lead on trying to sort this out, as they should have, went through a series of interpretations and analysis. And we were all guided by that."
In the exchange, Rep. Jordan took up a line of inquiry after Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez had queried Clinton. He said “You just gave a long answer, Madam Secretary, to Ms. Sanchez about what you heard that night, what you're doing. But nowhere in there did you mention a video. You didn't mention a video because there was never a video-inspired protest in Benghazi. There was in Cairo but not in Benghazi. Victoria Nuland, your spokesperson at the State Department, hours after the attacks said this, ‘Benghazi has been attacked by militants. In Cairo, police have removed demonstrators.’"
Comparing the riot in Cairo that resulted in a breach of the American embassy perimeter, on the same day as the attack in Benghazi, Jordan said “Benghazi, you got weapons and explosions. Cairo, you got spray paint and rocks.”
HILLARY TELLS CHELSEA BEFORE AMERICANS
Rep. Jordan confronted Clinton with an email she wrote to her daughter, Chelsea, on the evening of the Benghazi attack. At just past 11 p.m. on September 11, 2012, Clinton wrote, "Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like [sic] group: The Ambassador, whom I handpicked and a young communications officer on temporary duty w a wife and two young children. Very hard day and I fear more of the same tomorrow."
Rep. Jordan confronted Clinton,“It seems to me that night you had three options, Secretary. You could tell the truth, like you did with your family, like you did with the Libyan president, like you did with the Egyptian prime minister -- tell them it was a terrorist attack.
"But you picked the third option. You picked the video narrative. You picked the one with no evidence. And you did it because Libya was supposed to be -- and Mr. [Peter] Roskam (IL - R) pointed out, this great success story for the Obama White House and the Clinton State Department.”
HILLARY CONFIRMS THE VIDEO PLAYED A ROLE
Clinton defended her belief that the video played a role in the attack by remarking it was based on the information she received from the intelligence community at the time. “Well Congressman,” she said to Rep. Jordan, ”I believe to this day the video played a role.” Clinton said that the intelligence community reported two days after the attack that the Benghazi attack began spontaneously.
“On September 13th,” Clinton said, “the intelligence community issued its first thorough, fully coordinated assessment of what happened in Benghazi. It said: we assess the attacks on Tuesday, against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, began spontaneously. The attacks began spontaneously following the protests at the U.S. embassy in Cairo. Extremists with ties to al-Qaeda were involved in the attacks. There is no contradiction. The protest because of the video, bringing in those who were affiliated with al-Qaeda.”
In an earlier exchange with Rep, Lynn Westmoreland (R - GA), Clinton admonished the committee for dismissing the importance of the anti-Muslim video's influence in Islamic nations. While reading notes, Clinton compared the anger towards the video in the Muslim world to the anger against a Paris tabloid that sparked violence when it published a political cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed. "Cartoons sparked two al-Qaeda trained attackers who killed nearly a dozen people," she said.
Hillary Clinton compares the anti-Muslim video that "played a role" in the Benghazi attack to the Paris attack by Muslims that was sparked by a political cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in a tabloid newspaper.
Hillary Clinton: "To this day I believe the video played a role."