The grieving parents of two Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 have filed suit against Hillary Clinton suggesting a link between the tragedy and her use of a personal email server.
iled by Patricia Smith, who delivered an emotional denunciation of Ms Clinton at the Republican convention three weeks ago, and another bereaved parent, Charles Woods, the suit uses recent statements by the FBI to pin blame on the former Secretary of State for the attacks.
Both the plaintiffs’ offspring, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods, were working at the US consular complex in Benghazi in September 2012 when it was overrun. They also claim in the suit that they have been victims of a defamation campaign by Ms Clinton.
When the attack happened, the White House and the State Department at first suggested it was a spontaneous riot caused by a YouTube video insulting Islam. It quickly became clear it was a terror attack, however. Also killed was the US Ambassador, Christopher Stevens.
Ms Clinton’s run for the presidency has been buffeted both by the fall-out from Benghazi tragedy and the discovery that she improperly used a private email server when she was Secretary of State in the first term of President Barack Obama.
On Monday, Donald Trump made a somewhat similar run at Ms Clinton’s email mess, saying it may have contributed to the execution by Iran of a nuclear scientist.
Ms Clinton has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing in both the Benghazi and email affairs. But last month the director of the FBI, James Comer, while withholding from recommending any charges, did note that Ms Clinton had been guilty of “extreme carelessness” in the email case.
It was that allegation, as well as Mr Comer’s acknowledgement that the use of a private server could have made any emails to or from Ms Clinton, then Secretary of State, vulnerable to hacking by foreign powers, that forms the basis of the lawsuit against her.
“The Benghazi attack was directly and proximately caused, at a minimum by defendant Clinton's 'extreme carelessness' in handling confidential and classified information,” such as the location of State Department employees in Libya, the lawsuit said.
At it’s most tendentious, the lawsuit calls it “highly possible” that Ms Clinton sent or received information pertaining to the movements of Ambassador Stevens. While no evidence is offered, the implication is that information hacked from her emails helped the Benghazi attackers.
The Clinton campaign has shot back, noting that the plaintiffs are being represented by Larry Klayman of Washington DC, a well-known conservative agitator, who, it said, “has been unsuccessfully attacking the Clintons for decades.”
“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,” a spokesman added.
The only back-up that Mr Trump offered for his notion that hacked Clinton emails may have contributed to the Iran’s execution of its scientist, Shahram Amiri, was that lots of other people had connected the same dots.
“Many people are saying that the Iranians killed the scientist who helped the US because of Hillary Clinton's hacked emails,” Mr Trump said in a Twitter message.
The claim by the Benghazi plaintiffs that they had been defamed by Ms Clinton appeared to rest on her campaign’s dismissal of some of what was said by Ms Smith on stage at the Republican convention. It notably included the contention that Ms Clinton was directly responsible for her son’s death. “I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son,” Ms Smith said.