The September 11, 2012 attacks on Benghazi are back in the news. This time, documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that deputy national-security adviser Ben Rhodes coached then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to shield the White House from political attack.
Among the “goals” listed in the email were “underscore that these protects are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy” and “reinforce the President and the Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”
Are the emails a smoking gun that prove a cover up? Maybe. But there is still no evidence that the CIA didn’t have an initial hand in including the YouTube video theory in the initial talking points.
And yet there is a larger point that seems to be missed: The White House’s determination to pour every statement and every decision through a sieve of politics. That calculation distorts what truly matters and often gets in the way of facts. In the quest to be too-PC or to follow the preferred narrative to a T, the Obama Administration often finds itself embroiled in imbroglios.
The new emails show just how far the White House was willing to go to whitewash reality by downplaying any link, no matter how obvious, with terrorism and instead blaming the attacks solely on a spontaneous demonstration over an obscure YouTube video. Following the on the consulate, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice went on all five Sunday news shows where she claimed the attack was the result of a mob response to the video. President Obama also contributed to the story, arguing on four separate occasions that the YouTube video led to the protests, and ultimately, the death of Ambassador Stevens and others.
Now we know why.
The latest release of emails should have been the perfect time for the White House to come clean. To admit they made a mistake, to promise an investigation, and to move on. But of course they couldn’t’ do that.
Instead, we’re left with this utterly ridiculous exchange between White House press secretary Jay Carney and ABC’s Jon Karl:
Q: Jay, I guess you’re aware that Judicial Watch obtained an email from Ben Rhodes to staff members about the Benghazi attack.
Carney: That’s incorrect, but go ahead.
Q: Oh, okay.
Carney: The email and the talking points were not about Benghazi. They were about the general situation in the Muslim world, where you say, as you may recall, protects.
That claim is ridiculous on its face. It would require believing that the talking points, which were produced in response to a FOIA request for Benghazi-related documents, and includes multiple Benghazi references, not counting several topic headings, were not about Benghazi.
Not even the media, who is beyond tired of the Benghazi story, is buying this mess. CNN’s White House correspondent, Jake Tapper, was especially peeved.
“[I] think that the comments that are being made are dissembling, obfuscating, and often, you know insulting,” Tapper told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “I think, you know, when it comes to these emails . . . that there were people in the administration who didn’t understand and questioned when the White House was so aggressively blaming the Benghazi attacks on the video.”
Unfortunately, it was the other people in the White House—apparently the ones with a true say in the matter—that made the decision to downplay their policy failures by incorrectly highlighting a video. It’s likely those same decisionmakers who attempted to hide these talking points until now. And now the question becomes, what else are they not telling us?