During a presser on Wednesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney attempted to explain away recently-released emails revealing the White House’s direct involvement in the blame-the-video response to the 2012 terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Carney attempted to tell ABC News’ Johnathon Karl that the contents of the emails released this week by Judicial Watch had nothing to do with the attack that killed four Americans, but were broad talking points concerning the overall tension in the region.
Personal Liberty reported Tuesday:
National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes specifically fingered the video on Sept. 14, 2012 as a talking point Rice should focus on when making the obligatory TV news junket following the attack. Oh, and the email unswervingly calls what happened “protests,” not a terror attack, or even, simply, an “attack.”
Under the ‘Goals’ outline in the State Department email – an email specifically created to dictate talking points for media to consume – the video stands alone as a named culprit. The purpose of Rhodes’ memo was to “underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy…”
That email was sent out on a Friday. By Sunday, Rice was in songbird mode.
One of the talking points (Rhodes calls them “Top-lines”) that Rice was instructed to play up was to focus on the video as the villain simply by denouncing it.
Karl asked Carney how the White House expected Americans to believe that the talking points weren’t specifically compiled with knowledge that the Administration would be forced to address the attacks on the Sunday news junket. Carney deflected:
Karl: You just had an attack on a — (inaudible) — consulate in Benghazi. You had Americans killed. You knew full well that what Susan Rice was primarily going to be asked about was about that attack — a terrorist attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Carney: Can I read the promo from your show, ABC “This Week”?
Karl: You do acknowledge that these — (inaudible) — was going to be about the Benghazi attack?
Carney: Absolutely, about — Jon, absolutely. And she — and that’s why, as members of Congress did, Ambassador Rice relied on points about the Benghazi attack that were produced by the CIA.
Karl: So –
Carney: When — hold on. As American embassies throughout the region remain under fire — that’s ABC “This Week” promo. Again, we prepare Q-and-As for administration officials based on what we think they’re going to be asked…
As the back and forth continued, Karl’s questions got to the heart of the entire Benghazi controversy: It’s pretty obvious that the White House had/has something to hide. Carney answered by continuing to talk in circles and interrupt the reporter:
Karl: Ambassador Rice went on those shows, and she said that the attack in Benghazi was rooted in protests over an Internet video. We now know that that was not true, that, in fact, the CIA Director, Morell, just — former Director Morell just testified last month that quote, “when she talked about the video, my reaction was, that’s not something the analysts have attributed this attack to. It did not come from the CIA. You stood there at the podium time after time and said that she was referring to talking points created by the CIA. Now we see a document that comes from the White House, not from the CIA, attributing the protests to the video, and we have the former director of the CIA saying that that was not something that his analysts had attributed it to.
Carney: Jon, I would point you to what Mike Morell has said repeatedly in testimony about the creation of the talking points.
Karl: Well, now we have new talking points, and you didn’t release them — (inaudible) –
Carney: Let me finish, please. Jon, I answered that question. The fact of the matter is, there were protests in the region. The talking points cited protests at that facility. The connection between protests and video — and the video turned out not to be the case, but it was based on the best information that we had, and the fact that there were protests –
Karl: It was not based on what the CIA was saying, Jay.
Carney: Jon, I would point you to — I understand the –
Karl: This is what Morell said just last month, that when he heard that, he said that is not something our analysts have said. So that, now we see, came from the White House, right?
Carney: Jon — no, you’re wrong. If you look at that document, that document that we’re talking about today was about the overall environment in the Muslim world — the protests outside of Khartoum — the embassy in Khartoum, outside of the embassy in Tunis, the protests outside of the embassy in Cairo. These were big stories.
While Karl— just like Congress and the American public— was unable to get any straight answers with regard to the White House’s response to the Benghazi attacks, that anyone is even having to ask the sort of questions he asked Wednesday is revealing enough: “Why were you holding back this information? Why was this email not turned over to the Congress? Why was it not released when you released all the other emails? This is directly relevant. Why did you hold this back? Why did it take a court case for you to release this…”