Bill Clinton Misleads on Number of Diplomatic Deaths During Bush Years

Patrick Goodenough | June 30, 2014 | 4:13am EDT
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President Clinton speaks in an interview aired on NBC Meet the Press on Sunday, June 29, 2014 (Screenshot: NBC News)

( – Dismissing Republican criticism of Hillary Clinton over the Benghazi terrorist attack, President Clinton referred to ten occasions during the Bush administration when U.S. diplomatic personnel had been killed, and asked where the GOP anger had been then.

“When ten different instances occurred when President Bush was in office where American diplomatic personnel were killed in, in – around the world, how many outraged Republican members of Congress were there?” Clinton asked during NBC Meet the Press interview on Sunday.

“Zero,” he added.

Unstated by the former president, however, was the fact that those U.S. diplomatic personnel who were killed during the George W. Bush administration died in circumstances other than an attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission:

--Barbara Green, an employee at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, was killed in a 2002 hand grenade attack on a church in the Pakistani capital. Four other people were killed in the attack, including Green’s daughter.

--USAID officer Laurence Foley was shot dead outside his home in Amman, Jordan, in 2002.

--Bureau of Diplomatic Security officer Edward Seitz was killed in a 2004 mortar attack on a U.S. military base near the Baghdad airport.

--Jim Mollen, the U.S. Embassy’s consultant to Iraq’s education ministry, was shot dead while driving in Baghdad in 2004.

--David Foy, facilities maintenance officer at the U.S. Consulate in Karachi was targeted and killed in a 2006 suicide bomb attack in his car near the consulate in Pakistan’s biggest city. His driver was also killed.

--USAID official John Granville was shot dead in his car while returning from a New Year’s Eve party at the British Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, in 2008.

On Sept. 12, 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith, and Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed when heavily-armed terrorists assaulted the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

Before that attack, no American ambassador had been killed in the line of duty since 1979, when Ambassador to Afghanistan Adolph Dubs was killed in a shootout after being abducted.

U.S. diplomatic missions around the world did come under attack a number of times during the Bush years, but those attacks killed foreigners, and in some cases American civilians – not serving U.S. diplomatic personnel:

--Jan. 2002: Gunmen killed four policeman and a security guard at the American Center, an information facility near the U.S. Consulate, Kolkata, India.

--Mar. 2002: Nine people, no Americans among them, were killed in a bombing, carried out by suspected Maoists, at the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru.

--Jun. 2002: Twelve Pakistanis were killed in a suicide bombing at the U.S. Consulate in Karachi.

--Feb. 2003: Two police officers were killed in a gun attack on the U.S. Consulate in Karachi.

(--May 2003: Nine American civilians were among more than 30 people killed in a major al-Qaeda assault on privately owned diplomatic compounds – not a U.S. diplomatic facility – in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.)

--Jul. 2004: Two Uzbek security guards were killed when a suicide bomber attacked the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

--Dec. 2004: Five Saudi personnel were killed in an al-Qaeda attack on the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

--Sept. 2006: Four people, none of them Americans, were killed in an armed assault by four gunmen on the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria.

--Jan. 2007: No fatalities were reported when the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece, was targeted by a rocket-propelled grenade.

--Mar. 2008: Terrorists fired mortars at the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen. They missed the embassy but hit a nearby school, killing a guard and a pupil.

--Jul. 2008: Three Turkish policemen were killed when terrorists attacked the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul.

--Sept. 2008: Four civilians, including an American, and six Yemeni policemen were killed when terrorists attacked the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a.

--Nov. 2008: Four Afghan civilians were killed in a Taliban suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

After the Benghazi attack, the administration came under fire from Republican lawmakers and others over security decisions made in the run-up to the attack, and over its response afterwards. Hillary Clinton was secretary of state at the time.

Criticism focused on the administration’s early assertions that the assault had been a spontaneous reaction to an obscure online video mocking Mohammed, rather than a planned terrorist attack – a stance some regarded as politically-motivated during the latter stages of President Obama’s re-election campaign.

In the interview aired Sunday, President Clinton dismissed an earlier suggestion – by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) – that his wife’s handling of Benghazi disqualified her from running for president. “That’s not a serious comment,” he said.

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