White House spokesman Jay Carney did his best to spin the revelation yesterday of a new document showing the White House pushed Amb. Susan Rice to blame a video during her Sunday show appearances. The problem is that Carney’s spin is undercut by the facts.
The document, published yesterday by Judicial Watch, contained 4 overarching goals Amb. Rice was intended to get across to the public. Goal #2 was “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
Asked about this by Jon Karl during today’s press briefing, Carney claimed “that document, that we’re talking about today, was about the overall environment in the Muslim world…” Pressed on why the email had not been turned over to Congress, Carney replied “this document was not about Benghazi.” He went on to say, “If you look at the document in question here it is not about Benghazi, it is about the protests around the Muslim world.”
But evidence from the document itself shows Carney’s statement is false. While it’s undoubtedly true that the White House had broader protests in mind when preparing the talking points/goals sent out by Ben Rhodes, it’s also true that Benghazi was implicitly and explicitly mentioned in the document.
For instance, goal #3, which follows immediately after the one about blaming the video, reads “To show that we will be resolute in bringing people who harm Americans to justice, and standing steadfast through these protests.” The part of this sentence about bringing people to justice is obviously a reference to those killed in Benghazi. Indeed, on September 12th during his speech in the Rose Garden President Obama promised, “we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.”
Page two of the prep document contained a sample question specifically about Benghazi. The suggested response reads “We are not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.” So this was a document about more than just the general milieu in the Muslim world. It was also aimed at specific issues relating to Benghazi.
As for Carney’s claim that, since the document wasn’t about Benghazi it wasn’t considered relevant to be turned over to investigators, Ken Gardner points out that the FOIA request which eventually produced the document was specifically for talking points about Benghazi:
Jay Carney is lying. Here is the FOIA request for the Rhodes emails. It VERY EXPLICITLY is about Benghazi. pic.twitter.com/fYOCzohKqm
— Ken Gardner (@kesgardner) April 30, 2014
Incredibly, the White House continues to spin even when contradicted by the content of their own document.