WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton writes in her new book that the Obama administration demanded the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in every discussion it ever held with the Taliban about prisoners.
The former secretary of state also says in the book “Hard Choices,” to be released Tuesday, that she recommended that President Barack Obama end the decades-long U.S. embargo on Cuba to force Fidel and Raul Castro into democratic change.
CBS News, which obtained a copy of the book, reports that Clinton says there wouldn’t be any agreement about releasing Taliban prisoners without Bergdahl’s release. The swap of Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners has drawn criticism in Congress from lawmakers who say they weren’t properly notified.
In excerpts obtained by The Associated Press, Clinton says that congressional lawmakers opposing a restoration of full ties with Cuba are bent on maintaining a “deep freeze” that is not sustainable or reasonable. She says she believed that “people-to-people engagement was the best way to encourage reform in Cuba.”
“The Taliban’s top concern seemed to be the fate of its fighters being held at Guantanamo Bay and other prisons. In every discussion about prisoners, we demanded the release of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who had been captured in 2009. There would not be any agreement about prisoners without the sergeant coming home. …
“I acknowledged, as I had many times before, that opening the door to negotiations with the Taliban would be hard to swallow for many Americans after so many years of war,” she wrote.
Obama has not signaled a clear intention to end the embargo and problems in doing so arose with the arrest of American Alan Gross, a U.S. government contractor who has been detained in Cuba on espionage charges since December 2009. Clinton does not mention the Gross case in the excerpt obtained by the AP.
On other topics, as reported by CBS on its website, Clinton writes in her book that:
—There will never be “perfect clarity” on what happened regarding the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission at Benghazi, Libya. In a swipe at those who accuse the administration of cover-up and deceit about the attack, she says lack of clarity shouldn’t be confused with lack of effort to discover and share the truth.
“There will never be perfect clarity on everything that happened. It is unlikely that there will ever be anything close to full agreement on exactly what happened that night, how it happened, or why it happened. But that should not be confused with a lack of effort to discover the truth or to share it with the American people,” the excerpt obtained by CBS News read.
—Syria evolved over time into a “wicked problem” with particularly complex challenges. She says she disagreed with Obama’s decision not to arm the rebels there but felt that her views had been given a fair hearing.
—She was wrong to have voted for the Iraq resolution in 2002 as a senator from New York and that with every death that touched a New York family her “mistake” became more painful for her.
—Actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin have proven him to be “thin-skinned and autocratic, resenting criticism and eventually cracking down on dissent and debate.”
—Obama remained calm as his top advisers monitored the May 2011 raid in Pakistan by Navy SEALs that killed Osama bin Laden. In a detailed description of the operation, she says “rarely have I been prouder” to serve by Obama’s side.
—A silver lining from losing the race for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008 was no longer caring what critics said about her.
—She called on her skills as secretary of state for the “elaborate diplomacy” needed to help with daughter Chelsea’s wedding plans.
—She refused to criticize Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008, “just for being a woman appealing for support from other women.”
—When she met Russia’s top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, in 2009, Clinton offered him a red button labeled “reset” to symbolize how U.S. relations with Russia had thawed. The button contained a word in Russian meant to be a translation of “reset,” but Lavrov said it was wrong. She writes that it was “not the finest hour for American linguistic skills.”
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