Yesterday’s blockbuster release of a Ben Rhodes e-mail took the media by surprise yesterday, which had for months shrugged at demands to ask more questions about Benghazi. That was old news until the September 14, 2012 memo from the White House adviser surfaced, stipulating that Susan Rice’s appearances on news programs less than two days later had the goal of convincing people that the attack that killed four Americans was not brought on by “a broader failure of policy,” by stressing that “these protests are rooted in an Internet video.” The White House had insisted for almost a year that it had released all of the communications relating to the Rice talking points, both to Congress and the press.
Congress got surprised by this release as well. Eli Lake reports for the Daily Beast that the Oversight Committee, which has been probing Benghazi, only received this e-mail two weeks ago:
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.
“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.”
Hill’s committee received the September 14 email from Rhodes in an April 17 letter from the State Department, along with other requested material. Of the congressional committees investigating Benghazi, the House Oversight Committee has received the least amount of cooperation from the Obama administration, in part because most of the staff and members of the committee lack the security clearances to view highly classified material like the House Armed Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Why is this significant? The Daily Mail explains:
The newly released email, revealed under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, was not included in 100 documents that the White House released last May.
It is considered significant because in April, former CIA deputy director Michael Morell said Ms Rice had been the one to link to the video to the Benghazi attack during her appearance on Sunday TV shows.
The White House claimed that those talking points came from intelligence and not from their political side. Rhodes’ e-mail shows clearly that the opposite was true, and its connection to the presidential race is obvious. They must have known how this would look — why else hide it?
The bigger question is this: what else are they hiding? National Journal’s Ron Fournier wants more Congressional hearings to put Rhodes and other administration officials on the hot seat, while CNN’s John King demands “full transparency”:
“What are you hiding?”