Hillary Attacks 'Thin-Skinned and Autocratic' Putin in 'Hard Choices'

Image: Hillary Attacks 'Thin-Skinned and Autocratic' Putin in 'Hard Choices'

Friday, 06 Jun 2014 11:15 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Potential Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton attacked Russian President Vladimir Putin in her memoir "Hard Choices," saying the power-hungry leader is "thin-skinned and autocratic."

In new excerpts from the book obtained by CBS News, the former secretary of state said the crisis surrounding the "illegal annexation" of Crimea from Ukraine by the Russians could have been so much "more serious."

Clinton said it would have been tougher "to contain further Russian aggression if Eastern and Central European nations were not now NATO allies. The NATO door should remain open, and we should be clear and tough-minded in dealing with Russia."

She went on to write, "If Putin is restrained and doesn't push beyond Crimea into eastern Ukraine it will not be because he has lost his appetite for more power, territory and influence.

"He also proved over time to be thin-skinned and autocratic, resenting criticism and eventually cracking down on dissent and debate."

Her less than gracious comments were revealed just days after Putin had called Clinton a "weak" woman who is rarely "graceful in her statements."

In the book, Clinton also slammed the George W. Bush administration for "taking its eye off the ball in Afghanistan and losing focus on the hunt" for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, architect of the 9/11 attacks.

"After the election we agreed that aggressively going after al-Qaida was crucial to our national security and that there should be a renewed effort to find bin Laden and bring him to justice," she wrote of her talks with President Barack Obama.

Clinton also detailed the day that she sat alongside Obama and other administration officials to watch the video feed from inside the bin Laden compound in Pakistan when he was killed, CBS News said.

"Contrary to some news reports and what you see in the movies, we had no means to see what was happening inside the building itself. All we could do was wait for an update from the team on the ground. I looked at the president. He was calm. Rarely have I been prouder to serve by his side as I was that day.

"After what seemed like an eternity, but was actually about fifteen minutes, word came … that the team had found bin Laden and he was 'E-KIA,' enemy killed in action. Osama bin Laden was dead."

The book also touched on her efforts to have Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl released by the Taliban. She said that during negotiations with the terrorists, their main concern was the fate of their fighters in Guantanamo Bay.

"There would not be any agreement about prisoners without the sergeant coming home," she wrote. "I acknowledged … that opening the door to negotiations with the Taliban would be hard to swallow for many Americans after so many years of war."

Bergdahl was freed over the weekend after five years of captivity in exchange for five Taliban commanders who were held at the military prison in Cuba. The prisoner swap touched off a firestorm of controversy, partially based on accusations that Bergdahl was a deserter.

The former first lady also used the book to swat back at Republicans, who have mounted several congressional investigations into what went wrong during the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Clinton, who has not yet decided whether to make a White House run, claims the probes are purely a partisan political ploy.

According to The Hill, in a new excerpt from the book about Benghazi, she concluded, "There will never be perfect clarity on everything that happened.

"It is unlikely that there will ever be anything close to full agreement on exactly what happened that night, how it happened, or why it happened. But that should not be confused with a lack of effort to discover the truth or to share it with the American people."

Clinton has scheduled a book tour and several press interviews to promote "Hard Choices" about her four years in the State Department. The book is due to hit bookstores on Tuesday.

In an interview with People this week, Clinton revealed for the first time that she's been taking blood thinners since suffering a concussion during a fall in her home in 2012.


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