Washington - Hillary Clinton has given her most detailed
account yet of the attacks in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, but
said she will not join the "political slugfest" over the tragedy.
In excerpts from her forthcoming memoir Hard
Choices, Clinton offered a blunt rebuttal to Republican lawmakers who
have repeatedly accused her of bungling the response to the 11 September 2012
attack on the US mission and of misleading the American public.
"Those who exploit this tragedy over and over as a
political tool minimise the sacrifice of those who served our country,"
President Barack Obama's first secretary of state said in perhaps the book's
most anticipated chapter, "Benghazi: Under Attack."
"Those who insist on politicising the tragedy will have
to do so without me," wrote Clinton, according to excerpts published on Friday
by the Politico news website.
"I will not be a part of a political slugfest on the
backs of dead Americans."
White House run
Clinton, who lost to Obama in their 2008 battle for the
Democratic presidential nomination, is mulling a second White House run, and
her upcoming book tour - following the memoir's 10 June release - is widely
seen as a way to lay the groundwork for a 2016 campaign.
Perhaps countering what some see as the inevitability of a
Clinton candidacy, Republican critics and potential White House adversaries
have been relentless in their investigation of the violence that killed
ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
There has also been persistent talk about Clinton's role in
the aftermath, as well as the US mission's security shortcomings.
Earlier this month, House Republican leaders launched a
select committee to investigate the Benghazi assault - a move Clinton has
House Speaker John Boehner dismissed suggestions that he and
others were politicising Benghazi by convening the committee.
"This is about one issue and one issue only, and that
is getting the truth for the American people," Boehner said.
"We've been asking for documents now for 18
months," he added. "Why do they refuse to tell the American people
the truth about what happened?"
'Scores of attackers'
The excerpts were published the same day that Darrell Issa,
chairperson of the House government watchdog panel, announced he was releasing
Secretary of State John Kerry from his agreement to testify at a June Benghazi
hearing because he did not want the top diplomat to use his appearance as a
"shield against the select committee".
Asked whether Kerry would testify before the select
committee instead, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said "we remain
committed to being co-operative with this process".
For her part, Clinton has already taken responsibility for
the deadly incident, calling it the darkest hour of her career.
Clinton noted that she implemented all 29 recommendations of
a high-profile probe by a review board.
Clinton did not hold back in accusing critics of
manipulating the tragedy for partisan gain, saying they were acting like a
"broken record" in repeatedly demanding answers to the same
"Every step of the way, whenever something new was
learned, it was quickly shared with Congress and the American people," she
Clinton also defended US intelligence from their response
just before the attack, saying an anti-Islamic video that triggered protests in
Cairo was "indeed a factor" in Benghazi.
"There were scores of attackers that night, almost
certainly with differing motives," Clinton wrote.
"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."