The White House in any modern administration has an official photographer whose duty is to take pictures all day long of official and unofficial activities of the President. Sometimes those events are obviously momentous, while others only become so in retrospect. The White House releases some into the public domain on its Flickr site, but only those that please the administration. Others — like the photos of Barack Obama being briefed on the unfolding attack on our consulate in Benghazi on September 11th — require a little more effort to have released. In this case, it took public criticism (and perhaps the threat of a lawsuit) from several media outlets to get this picture released (via Fox and The Blaze):
Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor, left, updates the President and Vice President on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and Chief of Staff Jack Lew are at right.
It took that much effort to release this? Both Fox and The Blaze note that this is only the first picture released and that more are expected to come, but I’m not sure why the White House bothered to withhold this. We knew these men were at the White House that evening. Jason Howerton argues that it at least corroborates what has been established earlier:
While the photo doesn’t provide a lot of information, the picture does seem to confirm that Obama was briefed on the night of the Benghazi attack — and by whom. What was said — well, that’s another story.
Actually, that will be the story. In this case, at least, a picture isn’t worth one of the actual words spoken. I doubt we’ll learn much from any of the photos taken that night, but the White House certainly makes it seem like we might with their strange cat-and-mouse strategy on releasing what should be public records.
Anyway, this will at least make for an interesting caption contest. Have at it in the comments!
Update: A non-story just got a little more … non. The White House may be coy on releasing all of the photos taken that night, but not this one. Jeryl Bier did a little cache digging and discovered that this got uploaded in October, about a month after it was taken — and even got used by Bag News in one of its posts a couple of days later. Check out the screen shots in Jeryl’s posts. Maybe Fox and The Blaze need to revisit this story a bit.