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InsiderOnline Blog: May 2014

The Benghazi Story Came from the White House Before It Came from the CIA

The false narrative about the Benghazi attack evolving out of a spontaneous demonstration against an Internet video—which then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice would deliver on national television on September 16, 2012—was being disseminated by White House aides prior to the editing of the Central Intelligence Agency’s talking points that originally said otherwise. That’s what we learn this week thanks to the ever-dogged Judicial Watch, which received a trove of documents released by the White House under court order. From the write-up of the also ever-dogged Sharyl Attkisson:

Newly-released documents reveal direct White House involvement in steering the public narrative about the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, toward that of a spontaneous protest that never happened.

One of the operative documents, which the government had withheld from Congress and reporters for a year and a half, is an internal September 14, 2012 email to White House press officials from Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s Assistant and Deputy National Security Advisor. (Disclosure: Ben Rhodes is the brother of David Rhodes, the President of CBS News, where I was employed until March.)

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 memo goes on to mention protests of an Internet video several more times, including: “[…] we’ve made our views on this video 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 this movie with violence”

Attkisson notes that Rhodes composed this email on the same day that he was involved in the creation of an interagency working group to edit the Central Intelligence Agency’s talking points. That group also included Deputy Director of the CIA Mike Morell, who later testified that he alone was responsible for removing references to terrorism and adding references to protests in the talking points. Those edits, in any case, happened the next day. Attkisson further reports: “Morell has since gone to work as counsel for Beacon Global Strategies, a strategic relations PR firm dominated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officials and Obama administration officials. (Disclosure: In January, Morell was hired as an analyst for CBS News where I was previously employed.)” [, April 29]

Posted on 05/02/14 06:27 PM by Alex Adrianson

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