The Conversation

Benghazi Memo Remarkably Similar to Jay Carney's 9/14 Briefing Notes

On the morning of September 14th, Jay Carney gave a press briefing in which he addressed the attack in Benghazi at length. There is good reason to think the memo used to prepare Amb. Rice for her television appearances was based substantially on Carney's briefing notes for that morning.

Deb has already made a good start at some of the relevant comparisons here.  I wanted to point out that Carney seemed to have delivered on all but one of the "top-lines" in the new document. Here are the White House talking points interspersed with quotes from Carney's briefing that morning:

Since we began to see protests in response to this internet video, the President has directed the administration to take a number of steps. His top priority has been the safety and security of all Americans serving abroad.

"following the incidents in response to this video, the President directed the administration to take a number of steps to prepare for continued unrest."

First, we have significantly increased security at our diplomatic posts around the globe, with additional resources from across the government. The safety and security of our personnel is paramount and under constant review.

"his focus is on ensuring that U.S. personnel and our facilities are protected.  That is why he directed his administration to ensure that security would be enhanced around the world at our diplomatic facilities."

[...]

"It is also the case that in reaction to this the President has ordered that we review all of our security arrangements for embassy facilities and other diplomatic facilities around the world."

Second, we have reached out to governments in the region to make sure they are cooperating closely with us, and meeting their obligations to protect diplomatic facilities as best they can. For instance we've seen cooperation from Yemen and Egypt cooperate significantly after President Obama called those countries.

"And the President is making sure in his conversations with leaders around the region that they are committed, as hosts to diplomatic facilities, to protect both personnel and buildings and other facilities that are part of the U.S. representation in those countries."

[...]

"He has made a number of phone calls, had a number of conversations with leaders in the region.  I’m not precluding other phone calls and other conversations that he might have.  I think he’s reaching out in order to make clear our position and make clear our expectation of these countries and their governments in terms of their obligations to provide security for diplomatic facilities."

Third, we have 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 the movie with violence. And we are working to make sure that people around the globe hear that message.

"It is in response to a video, a film that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting.  That in no way justifies any violent reaction to it, but this is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy.  This is in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims. Again, this is not in any way justifying violence, and we’ve spoken very clearly out against that and condemned it."

[...]

"we continue to make clear that in this case, we find the video reprehensible and disgusting.  We continue to try to get the message out as broadly as we can that this video is -- has nothing to do, is not in any way related to the American government.  It does not represent who we are or what we believe."

Fourth, we've encouraged leaders around the globe to speak out against the violence, and you've seen very important statements in the Muslim world by people like Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, President Morsi of Egypt, and others who have condemned the violence and called for a peaceful response.

"He has, as you know, because we’ve read out these phone calls, had numerous conversations with leaders in the region including the Presidents of Egypt and Libya.  He sent a message, a personal message to the leader of Turkey, Prime Minister Erdogan, asking for his assistance to speak out against the violence.  And I think you saw that the Prime Minister did that.  And the President is very appreciative of these statements and the actions these leaders have taken personally.

President Morsi again today as well as yesterday has spoken out against any violence and committed himself to protecting U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel in Egypt."

The last talking point in the new memo reads "I think that people have come to trust that President Obama provides leadership that is steady and statesmanlike. There are always going to be challenges that emerge around the world, and time and again he's shown that he can meet them." Carney doesn't seem to have hit that one. Maybe it was too on the nose?

In any case, all of the rest of these talking points and the goals they were based on (including blaming the video, which Carney did at least 11 times) seem to have made it into the briefing Friday morning, hours before the document was sent out by Ben Rhodes to prepare Susan Rice for her TV appearances. That means, contrary to what some have suggested, this or something nearly identical to it was put together well before the CIA had provided talking points to the White House later in the day.


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