When discussing Benghazi, I relied on fully cleared, unclassified points provided by the intelligence community, which encapsulated their best current assessment. These unclassified points were consistent with the classified assessments I received as a senior policymaker. It would have been irresponsible for me to substitute any personal judgment for our government’s and wrong to reveal classified material. I made clear in each interview that the information I was providing was preliminary and that ongoing investigations would give us definitive answers. I have tremendous appreciation for our intelligence professionals, who work hard to provide their best assessments based on the information available. Long experience shows that our first accounts of terrorist attacks and other tragedies often evolve over time. The intelligence community did its job in good faith. And so did I.
I have never sought in any way, shape or form to mislead the American people. To do so would run counter to my character and my life of public service. But in recent weeks, new lines of attack have been raised to malign my character and my career. Even before I was nominated for any new position, a steady drip of manufactured charges painted a wholly false picture of me. This has interfered increasingly with my work on behalf of the United States at the United Nations and with America’s agenda.
I grew up in Washington, D.C., and I’ve seen plenty of battles over politics and policy. But a national security appointment, much less a potential one, should never be turned into a political football. There are far bigger issues at stake. So I concluded this distraction has to stop.
This was the right call, for four reasons.
First, my commitment to public service is rooted in the belief that our nation’s interests must be put ahead of individual ones. I’ve devoted my life to serving the United States and trying to mend our imperfect world. That’s where I want to focus my efforts, not on defending myself against baseless political attacks.
Second, I deeply respect Congress’s role in our system of government. After the despicable terrorist attacks that took the lives of four colleagues in Benghazi, our government must work through serious questions and bring the perpetrators to justice. We must strengthen security at our diplomatic posts and improve our intelligence in a volatile Middle East. Accomplishing these goals is far more important than political fights or personal attacks.