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Eleanor Clift stands by claim US ambassador not ‘murdered’ in Benghazi

A longtime political pundit under fire for claiming the American ambassador to Libya was not "murdered" in Benghazi is standing by her claim he died of smoke inhalation.

"I'd like to point out that Ambassador (Chris) Stevens was not 'murdered;' he died of smoke inhalation in that safe room in that CIA installation," Eleanor Clift, a columnist at The Daily Beast, said Sunday on "The McLaughlin Group."

While Clift may be technically correct in light of reports that Stevens died from smoke inhalation, she was criticized because the ambassador died as a result of a fire ignited during a terrorist raid on the Benghazi consulate on Sep. 11, 2012.

She stood by her comment Tuesday during a radio interview.

"I was taking issue with the sort of glib use of the word 'murdered,'" Clift told radio host Steve Malzberg. "My point is that it was a very chaotic event. The CIA was involved, which is why there was a lot of confusion initially, and that all the questions that this special committee is raising have been asked and answered in previous investigations."

Malzberg asked if she would feel the same way if it was her relative. She replied, "I would say he died of smoke inhalation."

Author and columnist Pat Buchanan, who was on the Sunday show's panel, reportedly said he was "stunned cold" by her remarks.

The attack on the consulate in the Mediterranean port city has been a political rallying cry since just weeks before President Obama’s re-election. With the launch of a new House investigation, Benghazi is shaping up as a byword of this fall's midterm election and the presidential race in 2016, especially if former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is on the ballot.

"I was just trying to add a little bit of complexity, and I'm going to stick with what I said," Clift said. "I realize this causes a lot of emotion."