it is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again!

EVERYWHERE I TURN, whether —in conversation, via emails from my Republican contacts, and especially on the internet—I hear people “quoting” then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the effect that she said that the raid deaths reason whatever in Benghazi “didn’t matter” or “doesn’t matter.”

As much as the righties hate all things Clintonian, they (and those Dems who take the corporate media at their word) could at least get the quote correct and in context. Of course, that would dilute the statement of all its propagandistic value for the right’s ubiquitous disseminators of misinformation.

Here is the full and actual (that means it’s REAL and NOT made-up, although I am not sure that those qualifiers matter all that much to the demagogue-ridden rightwing of this country) statement that Ms. Clinton made before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 23, 2013. She was having a back-and-forth with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI):

JOHNSON: “No, no. Again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests and then something sprang out of that—an assault sprang out of that—and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact . . . And the American people could have known that within days and they didn’t know that.”

CLINTON: “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest? Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they would go kill some Americans?

What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do—and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator!

Now, honestly I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the-the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out.

But, you know to be clear, it is from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it, than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.” 

Make of this what you will, but, most likely, you won’t make of it what the rightwing echo-chamber has made of it . . .

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There are countless websites that present abridged versions of the conversation, often accompanied by an edited video. Many of these sites have headlines that make Clinton seem devoid of concern, or arrogant, or even having a “meltdown.” None of this is true!

For those readers wanting more, here is the complete transcript of the argument—and Johnson kept interrupting and Clinton’s ire was up:

JOHNSON: “Thank you Mr. Chairman and Madame Secretary. I would like to join my colleagues in thanking you for your service sincerely, and also appreciate the fact that you’re here testifying and glad that you’re looking in good health.”

CLINTON: “Thank you.”

JOHNSON: “Did you . . . were you fully aware in real time—and again I realize how big your job is and everything was erupting in the Middle East at this time—were you fully aware of these 20 incidents reported in the ARB [State Department Accountability Review Board] in real time?”

CLINTON: “I was aware of the ones that were brought to my attention. They were part of our ongoing discussion about the deteriorating threat environment in Eastern Libya. We certainly were very conscious of them. I was assured by our security professionals that repairs were underway—additional security upgrades had taken place.”

JOHNSON: “Thank you. Did you see personally the cable on—I believe it was, August 12th—specifically asking for, basically, reinforcements for the security detail that was going to be evacuating . . . leaving in August? Did you see that personally?”

CLINTON: “No sir.”

JOHNSON: “Okay. When you read the ARB, it strikes me as how certain the people were that the attack started at 9:40 Benghazi time. When was the first time you spoke—or have you ever spoken to—the returnees, the evacuees? Did you personally speak to those folks?”

CLINTON: “I have spoken to one of them, but I waited until the ARB had done its investigation, because I did not want there to be anybody raising and issue that I had spoken to anyone before the ARB had conducted its investigation.”

JOHNSON: “How many people were evacuated from Libya?”

CLINTON: “Well, the numbers are a little bit hard to pin down because of our other friends.”

JOHNSON: “Approximately.”

CLINTON: “Approximately 25 to 30.”

JOHNSON: “Did anybody in the State Department talk to those folks very shortly afterwards?”

CLINTON: “There was discussion going on afterward, but once the investigation started, the FBI spoke to them before we spoke to them. And so other than our people in Tripoli—which I think you’re talking about Washington, right?”

JOHNSON: “Yes. The point I’m making is—a very simple phone call to these individuals, I think, would have ascertained immediately that there was no protest prior to this. I mean this attack started at 9:40 pm Benghazi time and it was an assault. And I appreciate the fact that you called it an assault. But I’m going back to then-Ambassador Rice, five days later going to the Sunday shows and what I would say is purposefully misleading the American public.”

CLINTON: “Well, since . . .”

JOHNSON: “Why wasn’t that known? And again I appreciate the fact that the transparency of this hearing. But why weren’t we transparent at that point in time?”

CLINTON: “Well, first of all, Senator, I would say that once the assault happened and once we got our people rescued and out, our most immediate concern was, number one, taking care of their injuries. As I said, I still have a DS [Diplomatic Security] agent at Walter Reed seriously injured. Getting them into Frankfurt Ramstein to get taken care of, the FBI going over immediately to start talking to them.

We did not think it was appropriate for us to talk to them before the FBI conducted their interviews. And we did not—I think this is accurate, sir—I certainly did not know of any reports that contradicted the IC [intelligence community] talking points at the time that Ambassador Rice went on the TV shows.

And, you know, I just want to say that people have accused Ambassador Rice and the administration of misleading Americans. I can say, trying to be in the middle of this and understanding what was going on, nothing could be further from the truth. Was information developing? Was the situation fluid? Would we reach conclusions later that weren’t reached initially? And I appreciate the . . .”

JOHNSON: “But Madame Secretary, do you disagree with me that a simple phone call to those phone call to those evacuees to determine what happened wouldn’t have ascertained immediately that there was no protest? I mean that was a piece of information that could have been easily, easily obtained.”

CLINTON: “But Senator, again . . .”

JOHNSON: “Within hours, if not days?”

CLINTON: “Senator, I—when you’re in these positions, the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process going on. Number one . . .”

JOHNSON: “I realize that’s a good excuse.” 

CLINTON: “Well, no it’s the fact. Number two, I would recommend highly you read both what the ARB said about and the classified ARB, because even today there are questions being raised.

Now, we have no doubt they were terrorists, they were militants, they attacked us, they killed our people, but what was going on and why they were doing what they were doing is still unknown . . .

JOHNSON: “No, no. Again, we were misled that there were supposedly protests and then something sprang out of that—an assault sprang out of that—and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact . . . And the American people could have known that within days and they didn’t know that.”

CLINTON: “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest? Or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they would go kill some Americans?

What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do—and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator!

Now, honestly I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the-the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out.

But, you know to be clear, it is from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it, than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.”

JOHNSON: “OK, thank you Madam Secretary.”

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Just so y’all don’t think I am enamored of Mrs. Clinton, I did, in fact, support her during the early rungs of her campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008. Why? because she was the only candidate that was supporting something resembling single-payer health care system for my fellow Americas.

When she realized that Obama was pulling away and turned her campaign into something resembling a Republican operation (focusing on the negative aspects of the opponent instead of the positive aspects of herself), I dumped her and got aboard the Obama bandwagon.

Of course, all the while I was biting my tongue because it wasn’t Dennis Kucinich heading for November . . .

Comments, suggestions, additions, and arguments welcome!