Wednesday, April 30, 2014
"Benghazi? What Difference Does it Make?"
Not as much as it would have made in September of 2012...which was apparently the whole point.
Thanks to a long and successful battle by Judicial Watch in federal court, a whole raft of new e-mails between the White House and the State Department concerning the deliberate lies and coverup over the fiasco in Benghazi have surfaced that definitively prove that the White House deliberately lied about the nature of the attack, and colluded with the State department to construct a false narrative and deceive the American people to protect President Obama's re-election.
Emails sent by senior White House adviser Ben Rhodes to other top administration officials like David Plouffe and Jay Carney were sent out just a day before National Security Adviser Susan Rice hit 5 separate Sunday news shows to promulgate the lie about 'the video'.
Interesting fellow, Ben Rhodes. Officially, he's the current deputy national security adviser for strategic communication for President Barack Obama. Now, he has no real national security qualifications for the gig, although his degree, an MFA in creative writing from NYU probably helps a bit in crafting the sort of fanciful fiction we hear out of the president.
Oh, and just by chance, his brother is - wait for it - David Rhodes. The president of CBS News, the same network where award winning reporter Sharyl Attkisson has said since her resignation that she was actively discouraged from investigating stories like Benghazi and Fast and Furious in any depth and was thought of as a 'troublemaker' for doing so.
Speaking of Sharyl Atkisson, she's gone independent for now and she has a fine piece of reporting here that highlights what was in the recently released e-mails, and why the White House wanted them hidden so badly:
In the email, Ben Rhodes lists as a “goal” the White House desire “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”
The email is entitled, “RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET” and refers to White House involvement in preparing then-U.S.Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice for her upcoming appearance on Sunday television network political talk shows.
The Rhodes email states that another “goal” is “To reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”
A court compelled the release of the documents, which were heavily-redacted, to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, which has sued the government over its failed Freedom of Information responses. I have also requested Benghazi-related documents under Freedom of Information law, but the government has only produced a few pages to date.
Today, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called the Rhodes email the “smoking gun” showing the “political manipulation by the White House” after the attacks.
“The political shop at the White House took over early on,” Graham told me. “They understood it was a terrorist attack, that they had a political problem, and were going to handle it politically. They weren’t going to entertain anything other than what they wanted the public to hear.”
USA Today quotes a spokesman for the White House National Security Council reacting to the Rhodes’ email by stating that it contains general talking points on unrest spreading throughout the region in response to an offensive video, and also made clear that "our primary goals" included the safety of U.S. personnel in the field and bringing those responsible for the attacks to justice.
Since the deadly attacks on the U.S. missions in Benghazi, there have been persistent allegations that the Obama administration developed a false political narrative to downplay or hide the fact that terrorists had struck. The President had campaigned by stating that al Qaeda was “on the run,” and Republicans have argued that news of a terrorist attack eight weeks before the election could have decimated his re-election campaign. Four Americans were killed in the assaults, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
White House officials copied on the Rhodes “goal” email include Press Secretary Jay Carney, then-Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, then-White House Senior Advisor David Plouffe, then-White House Deputy Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri and Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest. Earnest has failed to respond to more than a year’s worth of my emails and phone calls in my effort to obtain official White House photographs taken the night of the Benghazi attacks. The White House photo office had told me that Earnest’s personal approval was needed for the photos to be released.
Attkisson doesn't mention it here, but regular readers of this site know that State Department spokesmouth Victoria Nuland was involved in the coverup process as well, 'managing' how the phony narrative was presented publicly in order to protect her superiors - like Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
So was then-CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell, who heavily edited the fact sheet and the original talking points.
Attkisson also found out how the White House tried to hide this document:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told me today that the government apparently tried to keep the Rhodes email out of Congress and the public’s hands by classifying it after-the-fact.
“They retroactively changed the classification,” Chaffetz says. “That was an unclassified document and they changed it to classified.”
In the past month, the government has supplied 3,200 new Benghazi-related documents under Congressional subpoena. In some instances, Congressional members and their staff are only permitted to see the documents during certain time periods in a review room, and cannot remove them or make copies.
Chaffetz says that the State Department redacted more material on the copies provided to Congress than on those that it was forced to provide to Judicial Watch.
One of the most heavily-redacted email exchanges is entitled, “FOX News: US officials knew Libya attack was terrorism within 24 hours, sources confirm.” The Fox News article was circulated among dozens of officials including Rhodes and then-Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough but the content of their email discussion is hidden.
She has more at the link, showing how the White House had a reasonable degree of advance warning and that they knew almost immediately that the attack on Benghazi had nothing to do with any video.
So, where do we go from here?
Anyone who's been following the Benghazi story knows by now just from their behavior that the White House deliberately set out to deceive the American people to protect President Obama's re-election chances, after all that 'al-Qaeda is on the run' bluster. This simply formalizes it. Normally, just as with IRS-gate, an ethical attorney general abiding by his oath of office would have appointed a special prosecutor long ago, but that's not what we're dealing with here.
Congress, of course could use this as a springboard to vote funds and authorization for their own prosecutor, followed by formal impeachment charges that wouldn't get President Obama out of office but would publicize this stuff to the American people and force Democrats to take a position they'd be stuck with.
But it's a reasonable assumption that Speaker John Boehner doesn't want to go there because he lacks the stones to deal with the political fallout from the actions that would probably be needed if an investigation revealed that the president was indeed or other high ranking regime figures were as involved in these things as they appear to be.
Even more damaging would be what would come out if we get into the question of exactly what Ambassador Stevens was doing in an unprotected consulate in Benghazi, an al-Qaeda hotbed even the International Red Cross had moved its people out of because it was too dangerous.
What actually happened in Benghazi is bad enough even without the coverup and I revealed the true story here about a year ago. If that ever came out, we 'd be talking about criminal indictments.