On Wednesday, an email emerged from White House in which national security aide Ben Rhodes instructed UN Ambassador Susan Rice – copying President Obama’s entire political team at the White House – that her goal on the Sunday shows following the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi should be to “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
That email demonstrates that the White House lied when it said it did not skew for political reasons the talking points provided to Rice; Rice then appeared on the Sunday shows and claimed that a YouTube video lay at the root of the terrorist attacks. Although White House press secretary Jay Carney suggested that the White House talking points merely reflected the best available information provided by the CIA, that was clearly untrue; CIA deputy director Michael Morell testified last month that when Rice “talked about the video, my reaction was, that’s not something the analysts have attributed this attack to.”
But that’s hardly the only lie from this White House surrounding Benghazi. Here, then, are the top six top lies told by the White House with regard to the terrorist attacks that ended in the murder of four Americans, including Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.
The Obama Administration Did All It Could To Protect American Personnel in Benghazi. Thursday on Capitol Hill, retired Air Force Brigadier General Robert Lovell, who was Deputy Director for Intelligence and Knowledge Development Directorate for AFRICOM during Benghazi, testified:
There are accounts of time, space and capability discussions of the question, could we have gotten there in time to make a difference. Well, the discussion is not in the “could or could not” in relation to time, space and capability–the point is we should have tried. As another saying goes: “Always move to the sound of the guns.” It is with a sense of duty as a retired General officer that I respectfully submit these thoughts and perspectives.
Lovell further testified that the State Department submitted no request for military force to the best of his knowledge. In 2013, Deputy Ambassador Gregory Hicks stated that Special Operations Command Africa commander Lt. Col. Gibson were going to board a C-130 to head to Benghazi “when [Col. Gibson] got a phone call from SOCAFRICA which said, ‘you can’t go now, you don’t have the authority to go now.’ And so they missed the flight…”
That’s a far cry from the consistent claim from the Obama administration that everything that could have been done was done on that night.
Furthermore, the biggest unanswered question of all remains: why weren’t there sufficient forces on the ground in the first place to protect American personnel?
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Did All She Could To Protect State Department Personnel. In her now-infamous testimony before Congress, Clinton shouted, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” with reference to the source and rationale for the attacks. Obviously, it made a difference to the White House, which wanted focus on the YouTube video rather than on “broader foreign policy” issues.
But Hillary has never answered where exactly she was that night. According to Hicks, after speaking briefly with Hillary Clinton at 2 a.m. on the night of the attacks, she never called back to find out the latest developments. Barack Obama, too, is absent from the Benghazi story; we now know he never entered the Situation Room.
Then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified that he met with Obama on the afternoon of September 11, told him about what was happening in Benghazi, and never checked back in. Panetta says that Obama left the details on the handling of Benghazi “up to us.” The White House, Panetta said, never called for an update on the situation. Panetta had no conversations with Clinton.
The YouTube Video Was Involved. Susan Rice’s repeated statements on national television blaming a YouTube video called “The Innocence of Muslims” for the terrorist attacks in Benghazi were untrue. Rice and company maintained throughout the fallout that her statements were based on the best available intelligence. But that was a lie. Within hours, intelligence on the ground knew that this was a terrorist attack. At no point did the CIA connect even the early reports of protests with the YouTube video. The YouTube video may have been instrumental in protests in Egypt and other areas around the Muslim world. But it had nothing to do with Benghazi.
President Obama Called The Benghazi Attacks Terrorist Attacks. This, of course, was Obama’s contention in the aftermath of the Benghazi blow-up; in a debate with Mitt Romney, he and Candy Crowley famously double-teamed Romney with the claim that Obama had labeled Benghazi a terror event. But that was untrue, as Crowley later admitted. In fact, when Obama was asked by CBS News on the day after the attack whether it was a terrorist attack, he demurred. CBS News excised that portion of the tape, and released it only months later.
There Was No Political Manipulation of Susan Rice’s Talking Points. The State Department requested changes to an initial draft of talking points from the CIA, which included the statements that the government “know[s] Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in the attack,” as well as noting that press reports “linked the attack to Ansar al Sharia.” It also included statements that there had been threats against the American embassy in the past. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland wrote back that she worried that if this information was included, Congress would blast the State Department for “not paying attention to Agency warnings.” The CIA then removed the references to Ansar al Sharia. The White House then got involved and wanted further changes. Morrell then cut all language referring to “Islamic extremists,” information about warnings about al Qaeda, and reference to jihadists. So was language about attacks.
And all of that is leaving aside Rhodes talking points mentioned above, which apparently constitute a different set of talking points entirely.
The Obama Administration Has Been Fully Transparent About Benghazi. While the White House bills itself as the most transparent in history, it’s now obvious that it is anything but. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has now subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry about the State Department’s initial refusal to turn over the Rhodes talking points document. Hicks testified under oath that the State Department had excoriated him for talking to Congress, and had insisted that a State Department lawyer be present for any such conversations. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said that the Obama administration had blocked Benghazi witnesses.
These are merely the lies, not the open questions. The open question include:
- Was there gunrunning through the annex in Benghazi?
- Why was there no armed protection for American personnel in Benghazi?
- Where exactly were Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during the event, and what did they do to help the men under fire?
- Why did the Obama administration insist for weeks that a YouTube video had driven the Benghazi attacks?
Then there’s the biggest question of all: why didn’t the media care about any of this before the election of 2012?
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.