White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today sought to justify the White House decision to withhold an email describing goals for prepping then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice for the Sunday talk shows after Benghazi, saying the email actually wasn’t about Benghazi.
It was explicitly not about Benghazi. It was about the overall situation in the region, the Muslim world, where you saw protests outside of embassy facilities across the region, including in Cairo, Sanaa, Khartoum and Tunis. And the so-called talking points around Benghazi, as you know because it’s been substantially reported on, were prepared by the CIA.
Well. This is definition #1 of spin. It’s technically true, but it’s not really true. It becomes false for the facts it leaves out.
Carney is right – the email, sent by White House national security spokesman Ben Rhodes, does not specifically say Rice should claim the Benghazi attack was the result of an anti-Muslim video, a claim she made on the shows that turned out to be false. But you don’t need to be Hercule Poirot to ferret out the clear link.
Rhodes lists as one of the “goals” for Rice: “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
Now, if the White House truly believed, as it claims it did, that the Benghazi attack evolved from a protest, then this “goal” includes Benghazi, which was the big issue the shows would be asking Rice about.
In fact, in another section of the email, Rice is prompted to answer a question by saying:
The currerntly available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. consulate and subsequently its annex.
So this email is about Benghazi. And the White House withheld it from Congress. And the reason is because it made them look like they were intent on making President Obama look good instead of providing accurate information to the nation about a tragic attack that killed four brave Americans.
Here, in case you’d like to see it, is a heated exchange between Carney and ABC’s Jonathan Karl today about the email.