Why parents of two Benghazi victims are suing Hillary Clinton

A new lawsuit against the former secretary of State alleges defamation, neglect, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Rick Wilking/Reuters
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton comments on the Benghazi report as she speaks at Galvanize, a learning community for technology, in Denver in late June.

The parents of two Americans killed in the 2012 attacks on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, have filed a lawsuit against Democratic presidential candidate and former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, alleging that her mishandling of classified information led to their sons’ deaths.

The suit was filed in a district court in Washington, D.C., by Larry Klayman, founder of conservative legal advocacy group Freedom Watch, on behalf of Patricia Smith (mother of State Department technology officer Sean Smith) and Charles Woods (father of CIA security contractor Tyrone Woods). It seeks damages for wrongful death, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to CNN.

The suit comes approximately a month and a half after the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final, 800-page report on the attacks. That report found no new evidence of wrongdoing by Mrs. Clinton, who said afterward she thought it was “time to move on” from an investigation that had taken on a “partisan tinge.” Conservative opponents have persisted, seeking to keep alive a separate controversy over her use of a private email server for classified interactions.

In a statement, Mr. Klayman accused Clinton of “negligently and recklessly [giving] up the classified location of the plaintiffs’ sons” by using a private server that he said had probably been hacked by a vast range of foreign adversaries, “resulting in a deadly terrorist attack that took their lives.” And in the legal complaint, Klayman wrote that the former secretary of State had defamed the victim’s parents in the media, according to The Boston Herald:

“During her campaign for President, Defendant Clinton has negligently, recklessly, and/or maliciously defamed Plaintiffs by either directly calling them liars, or by strongly implying that they are liars, in order to protect and enhance her public image and intimidate and emotionally harm and silence them not to speak up about the Benghazi attack on at least four separate occasions.”

Ms. Smith has maintained that Clinton falsely told her the embassy was attacked because of an anti-Islam video, which Clinton has denied. Other family members of the attack’s four victims have differed in their accounts of a meeting with Clinton and other officials after the attack, as PolitiFact noted after the speech.

In a statement to CNN, Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said that none of the investigations into her conduct had uncovered wrongdoing. "While no one can imagine the pain of the families of the brave Americans we lost at Benghazi, there have been nine different investigations into this attack and none found any evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing on the part of Hillary Clinton," he said.

Smith also spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last month, delivering an emotional speech in which she called for Clinton to be imprisoned.

"For all of this loss, for all of this grief, for all of the cynicism the tragedy in Benghazi has wrought upon America, I blame Hillary Clinton," Smith said then, according to transcripts. “I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son.”

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