clear
Thursday May 26th, 2016 3:08AM

White House denies memo was about Benghazi attack

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House on Wednesday denied that a staff member's email three days after the deadly attack on the U.S. mission at Benghazi, Libya, was actually about the attack. Critics have branded the electronic missive as evidence that the Obama administration sought to deceive the public about the true circumstances surrounding the deaths of four Americans during the final months of the 2012 presidential campaign.

"It was explicitly not about Benghazi," press secretary Jay Carney told journalists during his daily briefing at the White House. "It was about the overall situation in the region, the Muslim world, where you saw protests outside of embassy facilities across the region, including in Cairo, Sana'a, Khartoum and Tunis."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called the email a "smoking gun" that "shows political operatives in the White House working to create a political narrative at odds with the facts."

The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans died in the attack on Sept. 11, 2012. Republicans contend that President Barack Obama, eager to claim in an election year that al-Qaida and terrorists in general were on the run, misled Americans by linking the Benghazi attack to protests over an anti-Islamic video when he knew otherwise.

The intelligence community compiled its own talking points for members of Congress that suggested the Benghazi attack stemmed from protests in Cairo and elsewhere over the anti-Islamic video rather than an assault by extremists. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, used those talking points during her appearances on Sunday news shows following the attack. However, the CIA's former deputy director, Mike Morrell, later said he had deleted from the talking points the references to terrorism warnings to avoid showing up the State Department, not for political reasons.

Administration officials later corrected their description of the attack, and Obama himself referred to "act of terror" in several speeches in the two days following the attack yet also referred to the video at times in other remarks. On Sept. 20, Carney said it was "self-evident" that it had been a terrorist attack, but Obama didn't use the term "act of terrorism" for some time.

The email from Ben Rhodes, then the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications at the White House, was dated Sept. 14, the Friday before Rice appeared on the Sunday news programs. The watchdog group Judicial Watch obtained the email and 40 others through a Freedom of Information request and posted them Tuesday on its website.

The email's subject line reads, "Prep call with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 p.m. EST." Among the list of goals was "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader policy failure." The email goes on to list a half-dozen points of discussion, including Obama's actions "since we began to see protests in response to this Internet video" and administration response to security concerns around the world, relations with governments in the region, the U.S. condemnation of the anti-Islamic video and efforts to have other world leaders speak out against violence.

"This document, as I said, was explicitly not about Benghazi, but about the general dynamic in the Arab - or in the Muslim world at the time," Carney said Wednesday. "So I would also point out that the document itself states explicitly that Ambassador Rice is not on the Sunday shows to talk politics. This was part of our effort to explain our views both as a matter of policy and as a matter of what was happening on the ground with regards to the protests that were underway around the region."

Asked why the Rhodes email was only now being released, Carney said the email was not about the attack and thus was not included in the thousands of pages of material about the attack that had been turned over to investigators.

In an interview Tuesday with the website Newmax, Graham said: "Their goal was not to tell the truth about what actually happened. ... They did not want to provide the best information available. Instead, we were provided the most beneficial political story for President Obama."

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., told Newsmax: "This was a cover-up, and these e-mails only continue to confirm my belief."

In a statement Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, accused the White House of being evasive and not cooperating with House efforts to investigate the attack and the U.S. response.

"Four Americans lost their lives in Benghazi, and this White House has gone to extraordinary lengths to mislead, obstruct and obscure what actually took place," Boehner said. "I am appalled to learn that the administration concealed relevant documents after the House subpoenaed all emails related to the misleading talking points. When four Americans die at the hands of terrorists, the families of the victims - and the American people - deserve the full, unvarnished truth and nothing less. Instead, this White House been callously dismissive of our efforts to get answers."
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 1 year ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 1 year ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 1 year ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Committee leaves transportation funding to lawmakers
Georgia will have to cover a $1 billion to $1.5 billion transportation funding gap to stay economically competitive, a committee of lawmakers is warning in a report issued Tuesday.
5:36AM ( 1 year ago )
US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on
Taking America off a permanent war footing is proving harder than President Barack Obama may have suggested.
6:13PM ( 1 year ago )
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 1 year ago )
Politics
Amid shouts of 'shame,' House GOP defeats gay rights measure
Democrats shouted "shame," but House Republicans switched their votes and defeated a measure to protect gay rights
8:03PM ( 6 days ago )
CDC director Freiden warns GOP Zika bill is inadequate
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Wednesday that a House GOP measure to combat the Zika virus is inadequate to deal with the swelling threat to public health
7:36PM ( 1 week ago )
Trump unveils list of his top picks for Supreme Court
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, released Wednesday a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he plans to vet to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia if he's elected to the White House.
3:31PM ( 1 week ago )
1st US penis transplant could bring hope to maimed soldiers
A 64-year-old cancer patient has received the nation's first penis transplant, a groundbreaking operation that may also help U.S. veterans maimed by roadside bombs
8:04PM ( 1 week ago )
States dig in against directive on transgender bathroom use
Politicians in Texas, Arkansas and elsewhere are vowing defiance over the Obama administration's new directive on transgender bathroom use
9:19PM ( 1 week ago )