In the last week, Judicial Watch released eighty new pages of documents relating to the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. The new release shows top Obama White House officials scrambling to “evolve” their false claims that the attack began “spontaneously” in response to an anti-Muslim YouTube video. This was part of a coordinated campaign to “reinforce” President Obama and to portray the Benghazi consulate terrorist attack as being “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy.”
The Benghazi lie was pushed heavily by then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice, who was dispatched to five Sunday morning political talk shows to peddle the YouTube video falsehood. Meanwhile, then-Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, then-NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor, and then-Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan were joking about how clever they had sold their damage control to a credulous press corps.
An official whose name is redacted writes, “Everyone know [sic] Susan was using not just [Intelligence Community] approved guidance, but IC created.” Rhodes jokes to Sullivan and the redacted officials, “At least you’re only a liar. Could be worse – we’re liars and also allegedly leakers.” “We’re only lying footsoldiers,” Sullivan replies. “You’re lying masterminds. That’s cooler.”
“I prefer that we go by henchmen,” a redacted official riffs. “Has more of a Marvel comic sinisterness to it.” He then jokes about the need for a cable TV show called “The Biggest Liar” where the contestants wear polygraphs under questioning. “It could be worse,” Rhodes writes, “You could be a career bureaucrat whose greatest thrill in life is leaking half-truths, self-justifications and outright lies to the likes of Eli Lake, Kim Dozier, and whoever picks up the phone at Fox News.” They also discuss long-term plans for releasing an “evolving assessment” of the attack “which happens to be true (unlike just about everything else we’ve seen reported on Benghazi.)”
The level of smug arrogance revealed in these emails is beyond anything we have yet seem from the remarkably condescending Obama team. It is also important to note the complete emotional detachment from the tragedy that took place, the deaths of four Americans at the hands of terrorists, and the pain and grief suffered by their families. Not only were these swamp dwellers lying about what happened, they were inordinately proud of themselves for getting away with it.
The new records also contain correspondence between disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok and various officials as part of the Midyear Exam investigation into Hillary Clinton’s illegal email server. One April 2016 memorandum of note between Strzok and Robert Zanger, of the DOJ’s Office of Records Management and Policy, noted that a search of the DOJ’s email gateway for any email between DOJ accounts and the @clintonemail.com domain turned up empty because “the server log is maintained for a period of two years,” and Clinton had been out of office for three. How convenient.
You may well ask, what difference, at this point, does it make?
Why keep digging into a scandal that erupted eight years ago? Considering the vice presidential buzz around Susan Rice, who peddled the Benghazi lie, and the probability that self-important “liars and leakers” like Rhodes might enter a future Democratic administration to resume deceiving the American people, it is clear why records like these need to be revealed.
But also recall the importance of the Benghazi lie and subsequent coverup in how events have unfolded years later. It was clear to many from the moment that Rice, Hillary Clinton and others began blaming the Benghazi attack on passions generated by a YouTube video that this was a falsehood, an election-season exercise in damage control.
A subsequent Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking records concerning “talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack” led directly to the disclosure of Hillary Clinton’s illegal email system in 2015. This sparked the FBI’s Midyear Exam investigation into Hillary’s bootleg server, which was inextricably linked to the follow-on Crossfire Hurricane investigation into the concocted Russian collusion narrative, and the slow-motion coup attempt against President Trump. So we have been living with the fallout from Benghazi for years. It has made far more difference and spawned more corruption than anyone could have predicted.
Chris Farrell is director of investigations and research at Judicial Watch, a nonprofit government watchdog. He is a former military intelligence officer.