Clinton Explains Why She Said One Thing to Chelsea, Something Else to Benghazi Families: 'This Was the Fog of War'

By Susan Jones | March 10, 2016 | 7:54 AM EST

Democrat Hillary Clinton speaks at the Univision-Washington Post Democratic presidential debate at Miami-Dade College, Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

(CNSNews.com) - Democrat Hillary Clinton says on the night of the Benghazi attacks on Sept. 11-12, 2012, she was dealing with "information that was changing, literally by the hour," and she said her email to her daughter Chelsea on that night proves her point.

"At the time I e-mailed with my daughter, a terrorist group had taken credit for the attacks on our facility in Benghazi. Within 16, 18 hours, they rescinded taking credit. They did it all on social media. And the video did play a role," Clinton insisted.

"We have captured one of the lead terrorists, and he admits it was both a terrorist attack and it was influenced by the video. This was fog of war. This was complicated. The most effective, comprehensive reports and studies demonstrate that."

At Wednesday night's Univision-hosted debate, moderator Jorge Ramos told Clinton, "I want to continue with the issue of trust. "

He mentioned the email that Hillary sent to Chelsea on the night of the attacks, in which she blamed al Qaida for murdering Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. But some of the men's families say Clinton later told them that the violence was sparked by a protest over a video that Muslims considered insulting.

Clinton responded that she feels "a great deal of sympathy for the families" and can't imagine their grief. But she said they're wrong:

"I and everybody in the administration...the president, the vice president, Susan Rice, we were scrambling to get information that was changing, literally by the hour. And when we had information, we made it public. But then sometimes we had to go back and say we have new information that contradicts it."

Clinton pointed to her 11 hours of testimony before Congress, where she answered "every question" Republicans asked her and no one learned anything new.

She also noted that Benghazi was not the first time Americans were killed in a terrorist attack.

"We lost 3,000 people on 9/11. We lost Americans serving in embassies in Tanzania and Kenya when my husband was president. We lost 250 Americans, both military and civilian, when Ronald Reagan was president in Beirut. And at no other time were those tragedies -- were they politicized," Clinton said.

"Instead people said, let's learn the lessons and save lives. And that's when I did."

(One of the central questions about Benghazi was whether the State Department, under Clinton's leadership, ignored requests for stronger security at the U.S. mission.)

Ramos followed up: "But Secretary Clinton, what they're saying is that -- what the families are saying is that you told your daughter Chelsea one thing and a different thing to them."

"Jorge, that makes my point. At the time I e-mailed with my daughter, a terrorist group had taken credit for the attacks on our facility in Benghazi. Within 16, 18 hours, they rescinded taking credit."

Clinton said there was no "easy answer" at the time, but as the "intelligence kept improving...we learned enough to say what we think happened at Benghazi."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, appearing on the stage with Clinton, said he wouldn't comment on the Benghazi tragedy.

"But I will say this," Sanders said. "A series of articles in the New York Times talked about Secretary Clinton's role in urging the administration to go forward with regime change, getting rid of Gadhafi in Libya.

"Gadhafi was a brutal dictator, there's no question. But one of the differences between the secretary and I is, I'm not quite so aggressive with regard to regime change. I voted against the war in Iraq because I had a fear of what would happen the day after."