Politics

              FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2012, file photo, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton poses for photographs before a dinner hosted by Singapore  FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2012, file photo, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton poses for photographs before a dinner hosted by Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam, unseen, at Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singapore. The State Department says Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, that Clinton, who skipped an overseas trip this past week because of a stomach virus, sustained a concussion after fainting. She’s now recovering at home and being monitored by doctors. An aide, Philippe Reines, says in a statement that Clinton will continue to work from home next week, as the recommendation of her doctors. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)   

Clinton calls in sick again, innoculating possible 2016 run against Obama Middle East policy

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced another sudden illness, marking the third time since Sept. 11, 2012 that she has distanced herself from President Barack Obama’s faltering Muslim-outreach strategy.

The illnesses — and her pending departure from the job — have protected her from growing criticism about the Middle East strategy, which has helped Islamic theocrats seize or consolidate power in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Turkey, Mali and Iran.

This distancing may prove particularly useful in 2016 if Clinton decides to run for president.

Obama’s 2009 policy, dubbed “A New Beginning,” gambled that the region’s popular Islamist movements would become more moderate if allowed to gain power. 

Under the strategy, moderate Islamist governments would focus their efforts on economic development and suppress their ideological allies in al-Qaida and other jihadi groups.

Clinton’s latest affliction was announced Dec. 15, when the State Department said that a fainting spell and concussion would prevent her from testifying next week in the Senate hearing about the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic and CIA facilities in Benghazi, Libya. (RELATED: Obama administration shifts spin on Benghazi attack)

The State Department suggested Clinton would eventually testify, but did not say when.

“While suffering from a stomach virus, Secretary Clinton became dehydrated and fainted, sustaining a concussion,” said a statement from spokesman Philippe Reines. “She will continue to work from home next week, staying in regular contact with department and other officials. She is looking forward to being back in the office soon.”

The Senate is investigating her agency’s actions prior to the successful Sept. 11 jihadi assault on the poorly-guarded U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi. The assault killed four Americans, shut down the only known U.S. facilities in eastern Libya and bolstered the local jihadi groups’ leverage against Libya’s weak government.

Critics say the administration left the sites vulnerable because it was wanted to believe that Libya’s weak Islamist government would successfully corral the jihadi groups proliferating around Benghazi.

Earlier in the week, Clinton’s deputies said the stomach ailment had forced her to skip a Dec. 13 international meeting in Morocco, where the administration and other governments planned to announced their backing for a Syrian rebel coalition.