Newly-released WH email shows Rice talking points on Benghazi politically motivated

posted at 2:01 pm on April 29, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

If this isn’t a smoking gun on Benghazi, at least on the controversy over the talking points that blamed a YouTube video rather than the terrorists who plotted and then conducted the attack, then it’s not clear what would qualify. Judicial Watch forced the release of additional White House e-mails relating to the evolution of the talking points and finds a rather bald-faced admission of Obama administration interests in Susan Rice’s television appearances the following Sunday. The YouTube story was designed to distract from “policy failures,” according to Barack Obama’s aide Ben Rhodes:

rhoades-email

Judicial Watch announced today that on April 18, 2014, it obtained 41 new Benghazi-related State Department documents. They include a newly declassified email showing then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes and other Obama administration public relations officials attempting to orchestrate a campaign to “reinforce” President Obama and to portray the Benghazi consulate terrorist attack as being “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy.”  Other documents show that State Department officials initially described the incident as an “attack” a possible kidnap attempt.

The documents were released Friday as result of a June 21, 2013, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the Department of State (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-00951)) to gain access to documents about the controversial talking points used by then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice for a series of appearances on television Sunday news programs on September 16, 2012.  Judicial Watch had been seeking these documents since October 18, 2012.

The Rhodes email was sent on sent on Friday, September 14, 2012, at 8:09 p.m. with the subject line:  “RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET.”  The documents show that the “prep” was for Amb. Rice’s Sunday news show appearances to discuss the Benghazi attack.

The document lists as a “Goal”: “To underscore that these protests are rooted in and Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”

Rhodes returns to the “Internet video” scenario later in the email, the first point in a section labeled “Top-lines”:

[W]e’ve made our views on this video crystal clear. The United States government had nothing to do with it. We reject its message and its contents. We find it disgusting and reprehensible. But there is absolutely no justification at all for responding to this movie with violence. And we are working to make sure that people around the globe hear that message.

Among the top administration PR personnel who received the Rhodes memo were White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Deputy Press Secretary Joshua Earnest, then-White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, then-White House Deputy Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, then-National Security Council Director of Communications Erin Pelton, Special Assistant to the Press Secretary Howli Ledbetter, and then-White House Senior Advisor and political strategist Davie Plouffe.

That’s a rather extensive distribution list, and that prompts another question:

Didn’t the White House insist that they’d offered complete transparency to Congress and the public on the talking points? It was just eleven months ago that the White House claimed to have released their whole archive on the development of those talking points and accused the GOP of “doctoring” them to make their critical response look political. The Washington Post gave White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer three Pinocchios for that claim. Hopefully, Glenn Kessler has a few more Pinocchios in reserve, now that this bombshell has hit.

It’s possible to read this as an extension of a sincere belief that the video caused a riot which led to the attack. By the time this e-mail was written, there was plenty of evidence — even in the e-mail chain itself — to show that wasn’t the case, but let’s say for argument’s sake that Rhodes actually thought this argument was valid. The flip side of it is that, since it wasn’t an ad-hoc demonstration that turned into a riot, the takeaway should be that this was the result of “a broader failure or policy” from the Obama administration. Right?

Update: Fixed a couple of typos, thanks to an e-mail from the indispensable Jeryl Bier. (Took a couple of tries, though.)


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First, we need to be clear, this White House has little compunction to tell the truth. They’ve repeatedly lied to the American people and Pravda and Izvestia had, not only refused to call them on it, but in many cases have repeated the lies. Did they know they were lies? Of course they did, no one can convince me these people are so blind to the truth that they don’t recognize it Now, looking for the truth is another matter, The saying is “seek and ye shall find.” Well if you don’t want to find, you don’t look and, regrettably our illustrious free press has been in the 3 monkey mode for 6 years.

bflat879 on April 29, 2014 at 3:51 PM

The only thing this does is make the liberals search for another excuse…it changes nothing.

The people who support Obama, will just ignore what is stated.

Really, what Hillary said is sad but true: What difference does it make?

What difference does the truth make, when a lie is so much more convenient.

right2bright on April 29, 2014 at 3:51 PM

All of this crap should result in one thing and it is up to all of us to make it happen, vote!

Sven on April 29, 2014 at 3:56 PM

All of this crap should result in one thing and it is up to all of us to make it happen, vote!

Sven on April 29, 2014 at 3:56 PM

yeah, good luck with that. I still believe the last election was stolen and not won.

phatfawzi on April 29, 2014 at 4:07 PM

We need to deal with the low info (stupid) voters. the title should be:

“WH email proves that from Obama to Hillary, to Susan Rice, the entire Obama regime LIED to the American people to steal an election.”

You know because we whine about the GOP elite mincing words and here is HA doing the same thing. You think harry Reid would be nice about this if Bush had done it? HELL NO!!

jukin3 on April 29, 2014 at 4:12 PM

Bigger story is on p. 20 of the talking points. Proof that Mike Morell did not tell Congress the truth and was directly coordinating with the White House.

http://www.noquarterusa.net/blog/77029/damning-proof-that-former-cia-official-mike-morell-lied-to-congress/

NQJohnson on April 29, 2014 at 4:23 PM

Donald Sterling gets canned, and Miss Rice gets promoted. What is wrong with this picture.

birdwatcher on April 29, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Miss Rice getting promoted?

Immolate on April 29, 2014 at 4:29 PM

Wait, that email is dated September 14th?

That was the day the victims’ remains were flown back to the US.

Meaning those crooks essentially went into full-on lie-to-the-public mode just hours after burying the bodies.

Archangel Nation on April 29, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Wait, that email is dated September 14th?

That was the day the victims’ remains were flown back to the US.

Meaning those crooks essentially went into full-on lie-to-the-public mode just hours after burying the bodies.

Archangel Nation on April 29, 2014 at 4:31 PM

ABC’s Jonathan Karl was sniffing around those emails a year ago and got stonewalled. They were the mythical emails that Congress was allowed to read but not make copies of. They were all the evening of September 14th.

airupthere on April 29, 2014 at 4:35 PM

“policy failures”

Is that the policy of arming our enemies in the time of war…?

Seven Percent Solution on April 29, 2014 at 4:43 PM

The other point to make her is that one of the reasons Sharyl Attkisson cited for leaving CBS News was because she was called a “troublemaker” for looking into Benghazi.

Attkisson’s boss at CBS News is David Rhodes. The brother of Ben Rhodes.

The guy who wrote the memo saying the YouTube story was concocted to distract from the administration’s policy failures.

He ain’t heavy. He’s a liar.

cbenoistd on April 29, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Miss Rice getting promoted?

Immolate on April 29, 2014 at 4:29 PM

She was UN Ambassador at the time. Now she’s National Security Adviser. It’s a big promotion.

Adjoran on April 29, 2014 at 4:49 PM

This is all so shocking. A President willing to lie about Americans dying to save his political hide.

And Ben Rhodes in the middle of it. And his brother, David Rhodes, President of CBS News, which went out of their way to block inquiries into it.

My, my, my.

Actually, it’s pretty close to what I thought at the time. It is shameful it is now confirmed, I wish I had been wrong.

These people are the most despicable on Earth.

Adjoran on April 29, 2014 at 4:52 PM

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans will simply say: “Ben, who?”

gimblin67 on April 29, 2014 at 4:58 PM

“…Rice talking points on Benghazi politically motivated…”

Surely you jest.

kcruiser on April 29, 2014 at 4:59 PM

Ben Rhodes..? hmmmm

d1carter on April 29, 2014 at 5:03 PM

My thug alarm has always gone off when I have seen Ben Rhodes interviewed…

d1carter on April 29, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Honestly, I want these guys hung in the worst way. I pray every night for the real truth to come out (which hasn’t).

But I don’t see a real smoking gun here. The press will just read this as ‘commonplace and responsible show prep’ for Rice – and that the WH was just trying to make sure she understood the ‘facts’ as they understood them at that moment.

Sorry. I was hoping there was a lot more beneath the headline….

forheremenaremen on April 29, 2014 at 5:07 PM

No surprise.

Bmore on April 29, 2014 at 5:19 PM

The hell with impeachment. Obama, Hillary, and Holder should each spend the same amount of time they imprisoned Nakoula in the very same jail cell.

And until the MSM signs on to this concept, I don’t ever want to hear any of them ever use the word “injustice” again.

NCC on April 29, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Wait, that email is dated September 14th?

That was the day the victims’ remains were flown back to the US.

Meaning those crooks essentially went into full-on lie-to-the-public mode just hours after burying the bodies.

Archangel Nation on April 29, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Benghazi: The Definitive Timeline

09.14.12: CNN’s Arwa Damon finds Ambassador Stevens’ diary.

09.14.12: Carney: No advance warning of attack. No evidence that the attack was preplanned.

‘We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.’

09.14.12 @17:15 (09.14.12 @11:15 AM EST: Analysts with the CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis drafts a set of unclassified talking points policymakers can use to discuss the attacks in Benghazi and circulates it internally for comment. This initial CIA draft includes the assertion that the U.S. government ‘know[s] that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in the attack.’ That draft also notes that press reports ‘linked the attack to Ansar al Sharia. The group has since released a statement that its leadership did not order the attacks, but did not deny that some of its members were involved.’ Ansar al Sharia, the CIA draft continued, aims to spread sharia law in Libya and ‘emphasises the need for jihad.’ The Agency draft also raises the prospect that the facilities had been the subject of jihadist surveillance and offers a reminder that in the previous six months there had been ‘at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy.’

09.14.12: Bodies of slain arrive at Andrews AFB. Obama, Biden, Clinton, and Panetta tell families that the video is to blame.

09.14.12 @4:42 PM EST: The CIA inserts into the talking points the fact that it had warned the Administration about threats to the consulate in Benghazi. It survives several iterations before removal.

09.14.12 @6:52 PM EST: The talking points are first distributed to officials in the inter-agency vetting process. T he initial CIA draft circulated to the inter-agency group included references to: 1. previous notifications provided to Embassy Cairo of social media reporting encouraging jihadists to break into the Embassy; 2. indications that Islamic extremists participated in the events in Benghazi; 3. potential links to Ansar al-Sharia; 4. information about CIA-produced assessments of the threat from extremists linked to al-Qaeda in Benghazi and eastern Libya; and 5. information about five previous attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi since April 2012.

09.14.12 @7:39 PM EST: Victoria Nuland, State Department Press Secretary, responds to email chain relative to draft and raises ‘serious concerns’ and relays her worries that members of Congress will use the talking points to criticise the State Department for ‘not paying attention to Agency warning so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned …’

09.14.12 @9:24 PM EST: Even after CIA officials cut all references to Ansar al-Sharia and make minor tweaks, Nuland responds that the problems remain and that her ‘superiors are unhappy.’ The changes, she writes, do not ‘resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership.’ As a result, State Department leadership, she advises, is contacting National Security Council officials directly.

09.14.12 @9:34 PM EST: Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes sends an email saying the State Department’s concerns needed to be addressed. ‘We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation. We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting.’

09.14.12: State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland claims that ‘at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya, which flatly contradicts the Blue Mountain contract that it inked on 05.03.12.

Axe on April 29, 2014 at 5:39 PM

Where was Valerie Jarrett’s name on this? It’s got her fingerprints all over it…

Newtie and the Beauty on April 29, 2014 at 5:39 PM

Needs update. :)

Axe on April 29, 2014 at 5:40 PM

No surprise. No consequences. I feel like the LA Clipper players protesting in silence by dumping my jersey on center court somewhere. This man remains unfit to lead us.

jedifinance on April 29, 2014 at 5:42 PM

The GOP simply needs to hang on to these documents since the MSM won’t use them, and trot them out for Hillary to answer…

stacman on April 29, 2014 at 5:43 PM

But I don’t see a real smoking gun here. The press will just read this as ‘commonplace and responsible show prep’ for Rice – and that the WH was just trying to make sure she understood the ‘facts’ as they understood them at that moment.

Sorry. I was hoping there was a lot more beneath the headline….

forheremenaremen on April 29, 2014 at 5:07 PM

The second bullet point shows that they pushed the video story not because it was true – but to cover up a “broader failure of policy.”

kcewa on April 29, 2014 at 5:46 PM

Now we know what happened to Sharyl Attkisson…Ben’s brother.

d1carter on April 29, 2014 at 6:00 PM

I should know better than to get excited about finally having something of real substance against this crew. As usual, a big nothing-burger.

Carnac on April 29, 2014 at 6:26 PM

If only the MSM spent half as much effort on this story as the bigot Jew, we may finally get justice for our dead.

cajunpatriot on April 29, 2014 at 6:32 PM

Fog of war

Philly on April 29, 2014 at 6:33 PM

I fully expect that the intrepid investigative journalists of our national media will focus like a laser on Donald Sterling and ignore this unimportant story.

myiq2xu on April 29, 2014 at 6:39 PM

everdiso?
 
libfreeordie?
 
That NBA thread taking all your attention, I guess?

rogerb on April 29, 2014 at 6:40 PM

This is a corrupt administration from top to bottom and this investigation was stalled so that Obama could get elected again to do yet more damage to this country. It is a shame that the mainstream media, intent on carrying out Obama’s plans, have ignored their role.
2014 midterms can’t come soon enough. Impeach this clown and move on.

Obamalies on April 29, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Does anyone really expect this Administration to come clean on anything? You’d have to waterboard them. And lying is their standard MO, so why be surprised that what they said was not true?

oldennis on April 29, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Gee, who would have thought that the youtube video story was a fake to make Obama look good before the election? Who could have imagined such a thing?

oldennis on April 29, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Too bad, but the public doesn’t want to hear anything more on this. I know the MSM sure has circled the wagons around its messiah.

BillCarson on April 29, 2014 at 7:03 PM

The YouTube story was designed to distract from “policy failures,” according to Barack Obama’s aide Ben Rhodes:

O Rly?

farsighted on April 29, 2014 at 7:31 PM

So can Mr. Nakoula sue? And they are still stonewalling any attempt to get to the truth.

Cindy Munford on April 29, 2014 at 9:22 PM

A question that will go unasked by the media: why are we only seeing this White House Benghazi email now?

Uhhh, they were finally turned over as the result of a FOIA lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch against the State dept. State held out as long as they could. If you’d read the Judicial Watch story, you would have figured that out. Not rocket science dude…

RMCS_USN on April 29, 2014 at 9:55 PM

This email doesn’t matter. Obama says he didn’t know anything so I believe him. Also he is awesome because abortions and free stuff.

TypicalLib on April 29, 2014 at 10:27 PM

…like there was ever any doubt! Obama is a lying PO$!

easyt65 on April 29, 2014 at 11:13 PM

Wiki says it all:

Rhodes … moved back to New York, attending New York University and graduating in 2002 with an MFA in creative writing.

In 2007, Rhodes began working as a speechwriter for the 2008 Obama presidential campaign.

… In March, 2013, Rhodes declined to comment on his role in Obama administration policy decisions, saying, “My main job, which has always been my job, is to be the person who represents the president’s view on these issues.”[10]

In 2011, Rhodes was on Time magazine’s “40 Under 40″ list of powerful and prominent young professionals.[11]

Rhodes is married to Ann Norris, chief foreign policy adviser to Senator Barbara Boxer. His brother, David, is president of CBS News.

fred5678 on April 29, 2014 at 11:51 PM

This is like finding an email from OJ confessing to the murder of Nicole…just confirms what everyone already knew but only half the country will admit.

bigGwillie on April 30, 2014 at 1:46 AM

ben rhodes didn’t make this decision….someone higher…the same one who decided not to send help to the ambassador et al because it wouldn’t fit the narrative.

gracie on April 30, 2014 at 8:21 AM

Get over it. Who cares. What difference does it make. Truth and honesty in this Country has gone extinct. Even if a letter in Obama’s own hand writing stating that he knew the Benghazi points were NOT true and that it was better to lie and win then to tell the truth and lose, will not make any difference. Any one out there, name be one person, just one that will stand up to this and committee their fortune, integrity and honor to make this government correct again. Impeachment is only one of several ways to remove this lawless insanity. It is the most difficult and the most pron to fail. So why not use any of the dozen or so other ways to save this nation.?

jpcpt03 on April 30, 2014 at 9:14 AM

Wait, Allah, you mean that the administration ´s talepunkter was politically motivated to safe- guard the President´s re- election ?

Next, they will tell us that Bill Clinton is a serial whoremonger,
with a boring dullard as wife. And all of this is obviously a canard fabricated by the Tea Party kulaks and other reactionary lackeys to the evil Wall Street social fascists !

No, that can not be ! Forward, Genossen, Die Democrats hat immer
recht. ( sarcasm warning )

Swedish Patriot on April 30, 2014 at 11:36 AM

And Rice will still say she was right. Donks. Brennan was Rhodes’ boss. It is just like I said back then. It was a counter-intel operation against the American people perpetrated by the WH implemented by Brennan. But I did not know that Rhodes would be the one thrown under the bus.

jake49 on April 30, 2014 at 11:43 AM

IMPEACH!!!!!!!!!

Candy Crowley unavailable for comment.

My prayers to the families who lost loved ones that day.

SmallGovtGuy on April 30, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Are we at a smidgen yet?

WhatsAMattaU on May 1, 2014 at 12:41 AM

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