The NY Times puts a toe in the swirling waters around Benghazi:
Email Suggests White House Strategy on Benghazi
By MICHAEL D. SHEAR APRIL 30, 2014
It's nice to think they had a strategy.
WASHINGTON — A newly released email shows that White House officials sought to shape the way Susan E. Rice, then the ambassador to the United Nations, discussed the Middle East chaos that was the context for the attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.
The email dated Sept. 14, 2012, from Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, to Ms. Rice was obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request. The subject of the email was: “PREP CALL with Susan.”
That email was sent ahead of Ms. Rice’s appearance on several Sunday morning news talk programs three days after the attacks that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including J. Christopher Stevens, the ambassador to Libya.
Mr. Shear then describes the controversy:
Conservative critics of President Obama have long contended that political considerations at the White House were the reason that Ms. Rice attributed the Benghazi attacks to spontaneous protests sparked by an anti-Muslim Internet video. Critics have said she downplayed the idea that the attacks were linked to terrorism because it would undermine the notion that Mr. Obama was winning the war on terror.
The email from Mr. Rhodes includes goals for Ms. Rice’s appearances on the shows and advice on how to discuss the subject of the protests that were raging in Libya and at other American diplomatic posts in the Middle East.
Hmm, was she sent to explain the protests that "were raging", or the attack that had resulted in four dead Americans on the anniversay of 9/11? Jay Carney explained:
Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, dismissed the new email as irrelevant, saying that the subject of the advice from Mr. Rhodes in the email was not about Benghazi, but rather about the protests that were taking place across the Middle East at the time.
Finally, there are countless references in the Judicial Watch documents to the video that have nothing to do with finding an explanation for the attack in Libya. The video is at the center of administration fears of a regionwide conflagration. There is a frantic effort to distance the U.S. government from the video and the violence that officials think is associated with it, and of course to show that the president is on the case. Rhodes writes: "[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."
This brings to mind the old story about a man who wants to take a nap, but he can't because kids are playing in the street. To disperse them, he concocts a completely fake story. He opens the window and tells them there are fresh, free oranges being given away down at the dock. The kids run off to get the delicious treats. The man settles back into his bed but finds he can't sleep. He can't stop thinking about how he's missing out on those free oranges.
Could the White House have created the fiction about the video and then been consumed with managing the fallout from the video at the same time, like our man with the oranges? Perhaps, but there is also evidence in the documents for another explanation. The administration was practicing garden-variety self-deception: Administration officials, who came into office on a wave of skepticism about the quality of CIA intelligence, believed what their intelligence agency told them and what was in the president's best political interest to believe.
Incompetence or deceit? I reject these false choices!