Hillary: Benghazi Is the Reason I Should Run

Monday, 09 Jun 2014 11:08 PM

By Greg Richter

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Her role in the Benghazi controversy is no reason she shouldn't run for president, Hillary Clinton told ABC News' Diane Sawyer in an interview aired Monday. On the contrary, she said, it's the very reason she should run.

The former secretary of state under President Barack Obama told Sawyer she views the continuing controversy as a diversion from the work Congress should be doing.

"Actually, it's more of a reason to run, because I do not believe our great country should be playing minor-league ball. We ought to be in the majors," Clinton said in a portion of the interview, aired on ABC's "World News Tonight."

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"I view this as really apart from – even a diversion from – the hard work that the Congress should be doing about the problems facing our country and the world," she said.

Clinton told Sawyer that as head of the State Department at the time, she takes responsibility for the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, but added that she did not have the expertise to make decisions such as where walls should be secured against bombings.

"What I did was give very direct instructions that the people who have the expertise and experience in security," Clinton said. "I'm not equipped to sit and look at blueprints, to determine where the blast walls need to be or where the reinforcements need to be. That's why we hire people who have that expertise."

U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was among the four Americans killed in the attacks. Republicans have criticized the lack of response from Clinton's State Department when Stevens requested added security.

They also have taken the administration to task for initially trying to blame the attacks on an anti-Muslim video produced in the United States. They say the evidence shows a coordinated effort that was planned and unrelated to the video.

"Well, I certainly would give anything on earth if this had not happened, and I certainly would wish that we had made some of the changes that came to our attention to make as a result of the investigation," Clinton said. "But I also am clear in my own mind that we had a system and that system, of course, ended with me. I take responsibility, but I was not making security decisions."

Sawyer pressed Clinton on the issue, noting that the International Red Cross and British embassy officials had already pulled out of Benghazi over the growing threat there.

Clinton said it was important to have diplomatic assets there and said there were other diplomatic facilities around the world in similar situations.

"Were there security threats? Yes. And there is a long list of countries where there are security threats to American interests," Clinton said.

Sawyer got Clinton to acknowledge that Benghazi was in the top 10 of security risks, then asked why the head of the State Department would not be personally involved in security rather than delegating it all to her staff.

Clinton said there were other places that they saw as much higher concerns, adding, "We cannot eliminate every threat, every danger."

Clinton did not say in the interview whether she will testify before the House select committee set to look into the attacks and their aftermath.

"That's going to be up to the people running the hearing," she said.

Clinton is currently doing interviews in conjunction with her new memoir "Hard Choices." Observers see it as part of her likely Democratic bid for the White House in 2016, for which she is the strong early front-runner.

Clinton told Sawyer she won't make a decision on running before the end of 2014.

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