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Old 04-30-2014, 05:22 PM
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Jeanfromfillmore Jeanfromfillmore is offline
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Default Benghazi, Exposed lies.

This is a major story and the media has practically ignored it all together. You still believe we live in a free country?

Senator: E-mails show how Benghazi story shaped the lies we were told

Republicans say e-mails released Tuesday on the attack in Benghazi, Libya, include "the smoking gun" that shows a White House official urged that the assault on the U.S. consulate be blamed on a protest that never happened.

The e-mails, obtained by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request, include one in which White House official Ben Rhodes lists "goals" for then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice to meet in explaining the attack and protests occurring across the Middle East that week to the American public.

Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in the assault, which the White House subsequently acknowledged was an al-Qaeda-linked terror attack.

The e-mail, sent to various officials including White House spokesman Jay Carney, said one goal was "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy."

Another goal was "to reinforce the president and administration's strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges."

Rhodes is assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for strategic communication and speechwriting.

During appearances on five Sunday news programs, Rice did blame the attack on Sept. 11, 2012, on a protest against an anti-Islam video produced by an American. So did Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and President Obama would not say whether it was a terrorist attack until several days later.
The CIA station chief in Libya reported from the beginning that the attack was an al-Qaeda-linked operation and that there was no protest. Though there was some dispute over the manner of the attack, former CIA deputy director Mike Morell testified earlier this month that he had no idea where the story about a video protest came from when he saw Rice make the claim on television.
Republicans say the protest story emanated from a White House bent on protecting the president from charges that he was wrong to claim during his campaign in 2012 that al-Qaeda was on its heels.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called the e-mails "a smoking gun" that points to White House efforts "to shape the story" of what happened in Benghazi.
Rather than have Rice provide "the best information that was available" in her TV appearances, the administration's goal was "to put a political stance on a disaster six weeks before an election," Graham said.

The White House said it relied on the best intelligence available at the time, and when better intelligence arrived, the story was clarified.

Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said Rhodes' e-mail contains general talking points on unrest spreading throughout the Middle East and North Africa at the time.

"There were protests taking place across the region in reaction to an offensive Internet video, so that's what these points addressed," Meehan said in an e-mail.

Protests in Cairo; Sanaa, Yemen; Khartoum, Sudan; and Tunis, Tunisia, and early reports of similar protests in Benghazi "contributed to questions of how the attack began," she said.

The e-mails also show that then-deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough, on Rhodes' behalf, assigned Clinton aide Jake Sullivan to work with Morell to finalize the initial talking points on Benghazi. At that time, the talking points did not include the story about the video protests.
Shock #Benghazi Email Reveals That Obama White House Agreed With CIA Talking Points

Judicial Watch, the conservative organization that has been FOIAing and FOIAing for an email record of the Obama administration's talking points from the week of the Benghazi attack, has obtained one that loops White House adviser Ben Rhodes into the conversation with advice about how to massage the story for the White House. Sorry, that was a boring lede—this is the lede you want.

Republicans say e-mails released Tuesday on the attack in Benghazi, Libya, include "the smoking gun" that shows a White House official urged that the assault on the U.S. consulate be blamed on a protest that never happened. The e-mails, obtained by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request, include one in which White House official Ben Rhodes lists "goals" for then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice to meet in explaining the attack and protests occurring across the Middle East that week to the American public.

And the left start spinning the story again.

The #Benghazi story is really tailor-made for the Vox version of journalism, the one with cards and updates explaining what new piece of information explains or debunks what previously understood piece of information. In this case, in order to consider the Rhodes
email a "smoking gun," you need to forget the previously known timeline of emails sent on Sept. 14. Luckily, Time's Zeke Miller has left his timeline hanging around on the Internets, so I can add the Rhodes disclosure in bold text.

11:15 a.m.: The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,* having asked for talking points, gets a draft from the CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis. It starts with this line, the one that would undo Susan Rice during her run through the Sunday shows: "We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. consulate and subsequently its annex."

12:23 p.m.: The CIA's office of general counsel adds a line about the "inspired by the protests" theory being inconclusive.

3:04 p.m.: The talking points are sent to relevant White House aides, including Ben Rhodes.

4:42 p.m.: The CIA circulates new talking points but removes a mention of al Qaida.

6:21 p.m.: The White House (Tommy Vietor, not Ben Rhodes) ads a line about the administration warning, on September 10, of social media reports calling for demonstrations.

7:39 p.m.: State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland objects to some of the language because "the penultimate point could be abused by members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings."
8:09 p.m.: Ben Rhodes sends the "smoking gun" email, nine hours after the first draft of talking points from the CIA said that the attacks grew out of a demonstration.

Read that USA Today lede again. It reports that "a White House official urged that the assault on the U.S. consulate be blamed on a protest that never happened." And he did—hours after the CIA and State Department were urging that the assault on the U.S. consulate be blamed on a protest. Can we chastise Rhodes, in retrospect, for not being more skeptical of what was known? Ten years after George "slam dunk" Tenet's advice for a prior administration, yes, I think we can. But it's just lazy journalism or lazy politicking to blame Rhodes for a talking point that was fed from the CIA. The White House's shifty-sounding excuse, that the "demonstration" story line came not from its spin factory but from the CIA, remains surprisingly accurate. (And I mean really lazy. It does not take very much time to compare the new Rhodes email to the previously known timeline of emails.)
This is why Eli Lake has the smarter version of the story.

The Daily Beast has learned that these latest emails were only provided to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform two weeks ago, despite requests from the committee for such material that date back to August 2013. The committee received them on April 17, the same day they were received by Judicial Watch.

“Even as Congressional Democrats were calling for an end to the Benghazi investigation with false claims that everything had been turned over and examined, the State Department was hiding this e-mail and other documents covered by the Committee’s August 2013 subpoena,” the committee’s deputy staff director, Frederick Hill told The Daily Beast.

Hill added, “It is disturbing that this highly important e-mail showing a White House role in pushing a false narrative was only turned over after it was discovered by the Department’s FOIA office in response to a specific request. While he had promised cooperation, by hiding subpoenaed documents from Congress, Secretary Kerry is failing to meet his legal obligations.”

As happens so often in the #Benghazi scandal, the outrage is not the new information but the fact that the new information was "covered up." Had the Rhodes email been part of the 2013 delivery to the House investigators, we would have known, then, that the White House attaboyed the "demonstration" story one more time and urged that the administration's spokesflacks "reinforce the President and Administration's strength and steadiness." (This is a major departure from most crises, when administrations try to broadcast fear and panic.**) How might the coverage have changed? We'll never know. Why didn't this email emerge then? Fair point, it really does look like the administration chose not to send every single email from the Night of the Talking Point, and that this one looked a bit worse than what was sent.
But it was largely redundant. The Rhodes email doesn't change that the talking point that blamed the attacks on a confusing demonstration, as part of the Arab world's reaction to the "Innocence of Muslims" videotape, came from the CIA.

*They were requested originally by Democratic Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, who has occasionally expressed chagrin at what a goat rodeo the whole story turned into.

From The Wire

In the immediate aftermath of the 2012 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the White House quickly jumped from questions about the cause of the attack to blaming the incendiary YouTube video promoted by Florida pastor Terry Jones.

Last May, a set of emails was leaked by opponents of President Obama outlining the development of the talking points then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice used in a series of television appearances following the September 11, 2012 attack. The White House then released a more complete set of messages, effectively neutralizing critique of how the talking points were created.

New documents, obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch by a Freedom of Information Act request, include a different set of talking points created by Obama advisor Ben Rhodes and sent to administration officials including spokesman Jay Carney. At the top, it outlines four goals:
We've highlighted the most important point: Rhodes' assertion that the protests "are rooted in an Internet video."

At the time this email was sent — about 8 p.m. on Friday, September 14 — a separate set of emails was bounding back-and-forth between the CIA, the FBI, the State Department, and the White House. Those emails, the ones that were the subject of the discussion last May, offer a much different and much more reserved description of what prompted the attack. An email sent from the CIA to the White House at about 5 p.m. included this language:

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 US Consulate and subsequently its annex. … On 10 September we warned of social media reports calling for a demonstration in front of the Embassy and that jihadists were threatening to break into the Embassy.

Over the next night, much of those specifics were stripped out by CIA director Michael Morell. But when Rhodes sent his proposed talking points, the nuance of "currently available information" was lost.

The new documents also include an email sent from a staffer for Rice to a group of employees in her office. It walks through a conversation the State Department's Victoria Nuland held on background with members of the press on the Wednesday after the attacks. In that conversation, Nuland was similarly vague. "Toria said that she couldn't speak to the identity of the perpetrators but that it was clearly a complex attack," the email reads. When Nuland was asked if the attack was linked to the video disparaging the Prophet Muhammed, "she said she could not confirm a connect as we simply don't know — and we won't know until there's an investigation."

What Rhodes was apparently advocating was to eliminate that nuance. And when Rice appeared on Fox News that Sunday with Chris Wallace, she was asked to respond to a statement made by Carney.

CARNEY (on video): This is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy. This is in response to a video that is offensive.

WALLACE: You don't really believe that?

RICE: Chris, absolutely I believe that. In fact, it is the case. We had the evolution of the Arab spring over the last many months. But what sparked the recent violence was the airing on the Internet of a very hateful very offensive video that has offended many people around the world.

One point of critique on the Benghazi affair has long been that the White House wanted to play up the role of the YouTube video in order to deflect critique of their policies. It's not clear if Rhodes had information about the attack (or believed he had information about the attack) that isn't reflected in the documents, but it seems clear that he overstepped the caution that was exhibited by other members of the administration — perhaps leading to Rice's strong and much-derided assertion that the attack was in response to the video. It was his job to protect the White House, but it's likely that this argument has caused much more trouble for Obama than it prevented.

If you'd really like to fall down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, by the way, the new documents have you covered there, too. On September 27, the key actors in the White House's response team passed around a news article from which indicated that the administration knew by September 12 that the video didn't play a role. All of the discussion about that article was redacted.

Correction: This post originally stated that Jones created the video at issue. He merely promoted it.
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