Judicial Watch released 41 pages of previously withheld Obama administration internal documents that showed top White House political operatives were behind the cover-up of the fatal Benghazi terrorist attack of September 11, 2012. And even the normally complacent mainstream media was forced to face the smoking gun.
The documents included a “talking points” email prepared by then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes in which he orchestrated a campaign to portray the Benghazi terrorist assault as being “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy” and depict President Obama as being “steady and statesmanlike” throughout the crisis. Other documents show that State Department officials initially described the incident as an “attack” and a possible kidnap attempt. All of the documents came in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed nearly a year ago.
Significantly, the Rhodes email was sent on sent on Friday, September 14, 2012, at 9:34 p.m. with the subject line: “RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET.” The documents show that the “prep” was for Ambassador Rice’s Sunday news shows appearances to discuss the Benghazi attack, where she doggedly wove a false narrative of a sinister video and a simple protest gone awry.
The list of recipients was almost as revealing as the email itself. It included White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Deputy Press Secretary Joshua Earnest, then-White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, then-White House Deputy Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, then-National Security Council Director of Communications Erin Pelton, Special Assistant to the Press Secretary Howli Ledbetter, and then-White House Senior Advisor and political strategist David Plouffe. In short, it read like an Obama administration “Who’s Who” of PR flacks and political operatives. Not a serious foreign policy analyst in the lot; they’re spinmeisters one and all.
And the Rhodes message to the spinmeisters is abundantly clear. He spells it out explicitly in the first of his talking points “Top-lines” for Susan Rice, et al:
[W]e’ve made our views on this video crystal 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. And we are working to make sure that people around the globe hear that message.
Make no mistake about the cynical nature of that directive. Forget the terrorism, the death, and the destruction, Rhodes advises his cohorts. And don’t mention the ties to al Qaeda, the complexity of the attack, or the thorough lack of a coordinated response. The message President Obama wants Rice and his PR minions to deliver to “people around the globe” is that his administration is in high dudgeon about a spontaneous protest over a “disgusting and reprehensible” video. That’s it. That’s the sum total of the Obama response to the terrorist attack on the Benghazi facility, as enunciated by his top communications strategist.
And all along, they knew they were contriving a patently false scenario. How do we know that? The documents Judicial Watch obtained also include a September 12, 2012, email from former Deputy Spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations Payton Knopf to Susan Rice noting that at a press briefing earlier that day, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland explicitly refuted the Rhodes scenario. In the words of Knopf’s memo to Rice – a full two days before the Rhodes tell-tale talking points:
Responding to a question about whether the attack was linked to the Mohammed video, she [Nuland] said that she could not confirm a connect as we simply don’t know – and we won’t know until there is an investigation.
Knopf added in his email Rice, “Responding to a question about whether it was an organized terror attack, Toria said that she couldn’t speak to the identity of the perpetrators but that it was clearly a complex attack.”
As I document in our book, The Corruption Chronicles, Judicial Watch does the job that neither Congress nor the media are doing anymore – which is simply trying to get answers about what the government is up to.
To prove this point, in direct response to the Judicial Watch revelations, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) finally agreed to appoint a Select Committee to fully investigate what occurred before, during and after the Benghazi terrorist attack.
While we applaud Speaker Boehner for his decision, we have to warn him and Trey Gowdy, the Republican South Carolina congressman picked to head the new committee, to expect a long, hot summer. Both the Obama administration and the Clinton machine are gearing up for battle. And if the release of the five top-tier terrorists from Gitmo is any indication – law, truth, and national security will continue to be at risk with this president.
So, the House Select Committee will need to push hard and dig deep to get to the bottom of the Obama administration’s Benghazi malfeasance and subsequent cover-up. As will we at Judicial Watch. And in both instances, we would do well to heed Seneca’s dictum in De Ira: Fiat justitia ruat caelum – “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.” With the release of the Rhodes smoking gun memo, the ineluctable descent has already begun.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton is author of the NY Times best-seller “The Corruption Chronicles” and executive producer of the documentary “District of Corruption.”