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Attkisson: WH Directed Incorrect Benghazi Narrative

From Sharyl Attkisson:

White House Directed Incorrect Benghazi Narrative

Newly-released emails: "Video" to blame, "not a broader failure or policy."

By Sharyl Attkisson April 29, 2014

​Newly-released documents reveal direct White House involvement in steering the public narrative about the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, toward that of a spontaneous protest that never happened.

One of the operative documents, which the government had withheld from ​Congress and reporters for a year and a half, is an internal September 14, 2012 email to White House press officials from Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s ​Assistant and Deputy National Security Advisor. (Disclosure:Ben Rhodes ​is the brother of David Rhodes, the President of CBS News, where I was employed until March.)

But that didn’t cause CBS News to keep Ms. Attkisson on a short leash. No way.

In the email, Ben Rhodes lists as a “goal” the White House desire “To ​underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”

That is the money quote. And all we really need to know about what went on.

The email is entitled, “RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET” and refers to White House involvement in preparing then-U.S.Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice for her upcoming appearance on Sunday television network political talk shows.

The Rhodes email states that another “goal” is “To reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.” …

In order to get him re-elected. Especially in view of his campaign claims of having Al Qaeda on the run.

Today, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called the Rhodes email the “smoking gun” showing the “political manipulation by the White House” after the attacks. ​“The political shop at the White House took over early on,” Graham told me. “They understood it was a terrorist attack, that they had a political problem, and were going to handle it politically. They weren’t going to entertain anything other than what they wanted the public to hear.” …

White House officials copied on the Rhodes “goal” email include Press Secretary Jay Carney, then-Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, then-White House Senior Advisor David Plouffe, then-White House Deputy Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri and Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest…

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told me today that the government apparently tried to keep the Rhodes email out of Congress and the public’s hands by classifying it after-the-fact.  “They retroactively changed the classification,” Chaffetz says. “That was an unclassified document and they changed it to classified.” 

The White House must have been concerned about national security if Congress saw what Mr. Rhodes wrote. They weren’t trying to protect Obama or get him re-elected.

In the past month, the government has supplied 3,200 new Benghazi-related documents under Congressional subpoena. In some instances, Congressional members and their staff are only permitted to see the documents during certain time periods in a review room, and cannot remove them or make copies.

Chaffetz says that the State Department redacted more material on the copies provided to Congress than on those that it was forced to provide to JudicialWatch.

One of the most heavily-redacted email exchanges is entitled, “FOX News: US officials knew Libya attack was terrorism within 24 hours, sources confirm.” The Fox News article was circulated among dozens of officials including Rhodes and then-Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough but the content of their email discussion is hidden.

An internal document provided by the State Department dated Sept. 14, 2012 is titled, “Topline Points” and poses answers to a series of questions apparently in preparation for the briefing to be provided to Ambassador Rice prior to her talk show appearances. The document fails to mention terrorism, although it had been repeated throughout the early versions of the talking points, and many government officials have said that they had already concluded by that time that terrorism was to blame.

“What’s your response to the Independent story that says we have intelligence 48 hours in advance of the Benghazi attack that was ignored?” is one question posed in the briefing memo. The suggested answer:  “This story is absolutely wrong. We are not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission was planned or imminent. We also see indications that this action was related to the video that has sparked protests in other countries.”

But the final sentence to the answer is expanded and developed in the “PREP CALL with Susan” email from Rhodes at 8:09pm on Friday, September 14, 2012. It adds the phrase “spontaneously inspired” and also refers to the attack as “demonstrations” that “evolved.”

“The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex,” reads the Friday night email from Rhodes to White House press officials.

Obama administration officials have insisted they were acting on “the best intelligence available at the time” and that they clarified the story as they got more information.

But taken as a whole, the documents and testimony revealed since the attacks support the idea that the administration’s avoidance of the word “terrorism” was a strategy rather than an accident or mistake…

And we believe them, too.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Wednesday, April 30th, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Attkisson: WH Directed Incorrect Benghazi Narrative”

  1. How come no one’s asking why and how the White House had a YouTube video cued up to use for an occasion like this?

    • chainsaw

      Because the video had less than 100 hits prior to the administration making its mention of it (rhetorical question, I know). What’s more peculiar on the video is that it was translated and disseminated to clerics just a week earlier by Morris Sadek. So ask yourself, what or who caused Morris Sadek of the National American Coptic Assembly to send out a translated video? Is the timing purely coincidence? Who knows….

  2. canary

    AP was brown nosing the WH when Benghazi attack happened.
    Fox news got a hold of e-mails that AP wrote to the WH saying Fox News was spreading insane (quote) “b.s.”
    What suck ups the main media has been.


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