Fact Checker: Bill Clinton’s ‘Dubious’ Comparison Regarding Benghazi and Bush

Former President Bill Clinton wasn’t completely accurate in drawing a parallel between the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi under the watch of his wife, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and previous attacks on diplomatic outposts.

Former President Bill Clinton has a discussion with David Gregory of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” during a session of the annual gathering of the Clinton Global Initiative America, at the Sheraton Downtown, in Denver, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

That’s the conclusion of the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, which gave Clinton two out of four “Pinocchios” for his assertion in a recent interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“When 10 different instances occurred when President Bush was in office where American diplomatic personnel were killed around the world, how many outraged Republican members of Congress were there?” Clinton asked. “Zero.”

In fact, the Post noted, congressional hearings were held following the deaths of diplomats when George W. Bush was president, even if those cases did not get as much attention from Congress or the media as Benghazi has:

In service of a dubious comparison, Clinton exaggerated when he claimed that there was “zero” Republican outrage about the deaths of Americans under Bush’s watch.

At least one of the deaths led to congressional hearings and a government report. That’s not the same level of attention as the myriad Benghazi probes, but it is more than zero. Moreover, in making his claim, Clinton ignores the similar one-off attacks that have killed diplomatic personnel during Obama’s presidency, making it an unbalanced comparison.

The 10 instances Clinton referenced under Bush are listed on a memorial plaque on the first floor of the State Department, the newspaper said.

In one case, Barbara Green, an employee at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, was killed in a hand grenade attack on a church in 2002. The attack prompted a congressional investigation and resulted in a Government Accountability Office report that said the State Department had inadequate safeguards to protect officials when they were outside the embassy perimeter.

“The other question is whether Clinton is comparing apples and oranges. He compares Benghazi to ’10 different instances’ during Bush’s presidency. Benghazi was a single event—an attack on a diplomatic post in which four Americans died. Most of the deaths during Bush’s presidency took place away from the embassy grounds,” the Post noted.

The Post cited four other diplomats killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Obama administration.