Benghazi. Again. Still.
I am not generally a conspiracy believer, but last week, as the result of a Freedom of Information action by Judicial Watch -- a conservative legal organization -- at least one email was released that directly linked the White House to the immediate reaction to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the American Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.
The Benghazi attacks took place on September 11, 2012. The Obama Administration's first response -- and it was a significant response -- was that the attack on the American compound in Benghazi was a reaction by "extremists" to a video that had been released that Muslims felt mocked the Prophet Mohammed.
According to the Los Angeles Times: The email, sent by Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security advisor, help prepare Susan Rice, for a round of interviews on Sunday TV talk shows...He urged Rice "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy."
Susan Rice, then U.S. representative to the United Nations, went on the shows to make that exact point: That the attack was spontaneous and, therefore, neither the State Department nor the Defense Department were in a position to offer aid to those under attack.
According to the Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact.com, that was inaccurate. According to a posting on its website yesterday: "In a series of interviews on the Sunday news shows in 2012, Rice stressed that the violence was a reaction to an anti-Muslim Internet video and not part of an organized terrorist assault."
In spite of Cokie Roberts' attempts to bail out Susan Rice on ABC's This Week, on the issue of the video being the catalyst, Politicfact.com says that when Roberts said: "Rice stressed protests related to the anti-Muslim video and downplayed suggestions that the attacks were planned."
Politifact.com stated that claim was "mostly false" because Rice used the word "extremists" - suggesting these were spontaneous demonstrators - and not "terrorists" which would have suggested a planned attack - on that September 11.
This point was at issue during the October 16, 2012 President debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney when Obama asked debate moderator, Candy Crowley, whether the Administration had said terrorists had been involved.
She said, from the moderator position, that it had use the word "terrorists", but months later, on her CNN Sunday show she said that in the immediate aftermath of the attack the Administration had not blamed it on terrorists, that only 17 days later did they admit it was a terrorist attack.
White House press secretary Jay Carney tried to deflect attention from the newly released email by saying Ben Rhodes' note was not specifically about Benghazi but was about the broader protests that were taking place across the Middle East at the time.
That, in spite of the fact that, according to the Real Clear Politics, ABC's Jonathon Karl sparred with Carney over the impact of this email. At one point, Karl asked:
"Ambassador Rice went on those shows, and she said that the attack in Benghazi was rooted in protests over an Internet video. We now know that that was not true, that, in fact, former [CIA] Director Morell just testified last month that quote, "when she talked about the video, my reaction was, that's not something the analysts have attributed this attack to."
From the transcript of the White House briefing:
KARL: Why did it take a court case for you to release this - (inaudible) -
MR. CARNEY: Jon, I can say it again and again, and I know you can keep asking again and again. This document was not about Benghazi.
KARL: It was her prep for the - for the Sunday shows.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh) has announced his intention to bring to the House floor a resolution to form a select committee - bi-partisan - to look into - a throwback to the Watergate hearings - what members of the Obama Administration knew and when they knew it.
I am not a conspiracy guy, but the White House has some explaining to do and all the bluster by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) will not change that fact.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Lots o' links to a Wikipedia backgrounder on Benghazi, to the Politifact.com analysis, to the LA Times piece, to the Real Clear Politics transcript of Jon Karl's pressing Jay Carney, and to the Hill newspaper's look at forming a select committee. Also a catch up Mullfoto of the two cutest granddaughters in history.