Philippe Reines, longtime adviser to Hillary Clinton, on Friday said Clinton’s camp is not going to help those who are trying to tie the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, to Clinton’s potential bid for the presidency in 2016.
Reines said looking back there will always be things that could have been done differently to help prevent the attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens, under Clinton’s tenure as secretary of State.
But he asserted there was no actionable intelligence warning about the specific attack.
“For as much as people want to make the two the same and to use one in that context, we don’t see it that way. I know that sounds canned, but we just don’t, and we are not going to help those who want to.”
Reines was addressing the GOP’s reaction to a Senate Intelligence report released this week that concluded the attack was preventable, and that the State Department had failed to increase security at the compound despite intelligence reports that the situations there was deteriorating.
Reines said the report echoes previous findings, and pointed out Clinton accepted all 29 recommendations from an internal State Department review, which Reines described as the most critical report yet.
He said the United States has national security interests in dangerous parts of the world, and that members of the diplomatic team take on a certain amount of risk.
“America has vital national security interests in these places,” he said. “We tend to have them in more dangerous places than not. We can’t only protect ourselves or advance our national security through our embassy in Switzerland.”
Reines said Clinton’s views on the incident are well known after she spent more than seven hours in front of congressional panels while leading the State Department.
“She is proud of what she has done to handle and to improve and to try to prevent that,” he said.
Republicans have been harshly critical of a statement Clinton made during a 2013 hearing in which she asked “What difference at this point does it make” what led to the attacks. Reines said the quote has been taken out of context.
“What she was saying was, once it happened, it happened,” he said. “Four Americans were killed, that is what is most important to figure out — what happened and how to prevent it. Not to continue to harp on the political benefits of looking at what was said by who at what time, because those questions have been answered.”