New information has been released on the Benghazi attack from emails obtained by Judicial Watch show that Obama Administration officials had emailed Ambassador Susan Rice before her Sunday talk show appearance to coach her to inform the public that the attack occurred as a spontaneous protest because on the controversial Internet video. Susan Rice made this argument even though defense officials had informed administration officials the night of the attack that it was terrorism. The emails call into question the timeline of events the White House has stood by and Congressional testimony by administration officials.
Newly released emails on the Benghazi terror attack suggest a senior White House aide played a central role in preparing former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice for her controversial Sunday show appearances — where she wrongly blamed protests over an Internet video.
More than 100 pages of documents were released to the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Among them was a Sept. 14, 2012, email from Ben Rhodes, an assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.
The Rhodes email, with the subject line: “RE: PREP Call with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 pm ET,” was sent to a dozen members of the administration’s inner circle, including key members of the White House communications team such as Press Secretary Jay Carney.
In the email, Rhodes specifically draws attention to the anti-Islam Internet video, without distinguishing whether the Benghazi attack was different from protests elsewhere.
The email lists the following two goals, among others:
“To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
“To reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”
The email goes on to state that the U.S. government rejected the message of the Internet video. “We find it disgusting and reprehensible. But there is absolutely no justification at all for responding to this movie with violence,” the email stated.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said the documents read like a PR strategy, not an effort to provide the best available intelligence to the American people.
“The goal of the White House was to do one thing primarily, which was to make the president look good. Blame it on the video and not [the] president’s policies,” he said.
The Rhodes email was not part of the 100 pages of emails released by the administration last May — after Republicans refused to move forward with the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director until the so-called “talking points” emails were made public.
The email is also significant because in congressional testimony in early April, former deputy CIA director Michael Morell told lawmakers it was Rice, in her Sunday show appearances, who linked the video to the Benghazi attack. Morell said the video was not part of the CIA analysis.