Earlier today, Gen. Robert Lovell testified before the House Oversight Committee that as early as 3:15 AM on September 12, 2012, the military knew that the assault on Benghazi was an attack. The military operated on that assumption, not that it arose from a demonstration against a YouTube movie gone awry.
Then later, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that blaming the video had never been a White House talking point.
But on September 14, 2012 Carney himself blamed the video in that day’s White House press briefing. Take a look.
CARNEY: “Let’s be clear. These protests were in reaction to a video that had spread to the region…We don’t know otherwise.”
Later in the clip, Carney adds that “We have no information to suggest that it was a pre-planned attack.”
But they did have such information. The military, as Lovell testified, thought it was a terrorist attack as the attack was unfolding. Even the CIA’s acting director, Mike Morell, testified that he believed Benghazi was both a protest and a pre-planned attack at the same time. “We never saw those two things as mutually exclusive,” Morell testified. The Obama White House did see them as mutually exclusive, and chose to blame a video rather than call Benghazi a terrorist attack.
Jihadis had also threatened to burn the US embassy in Cairo, Egypt on September 10, not because of a video, but because they wanted the Blind Sheikh released from prison in the US. The video was one of the ways that Islamic Jihad and other groups were generating the protests, to get numbers of angry people to turn out and threaten the embassy. The video was just an excuse. The protesters would never have seen it had Islamic Jihad and its associated groups not shown it around. The real point of the unrest was about the 9-11 anniversary and springing the Blind Sheikh from prison.
The Ben Rhodes email that Judicial Watch obtained and released this week would go out a few hours after Carney explicitly blamed the video. In that email, Rhodes lays out the goal for White House communications on Benghazi. Take a look at the second goal.
Carney’s claim that the Rhodes email was not about Benghazi is not credible. It has a section that addresses Benghazi, plus, events of the week of September 11, 2012 were almost entirely focused on the attack in Benghazi and the deaths of four Americans there. The YouTube talking point came from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s mouth on September 14, with the bodies of the dead behind her. It came from Ambassador Susan Rice on five political shows the following Sunday. It came from the president all the way to September 26, when he blamed it in his address to the United Nations, when he made the startling declaration that “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
Blaming the video was clearly the White House’s talking point for about two weeks after the attack.
After all the hearings and the new bombshells this week, we still don’t know who came up with the idea of pushing the video as the cause of a protest that led to the assault. Ben Rhodes was surely involved, but Carney used the video before Rhodes’ email went around. Carney is just the mouthpiece for the administration. He may well come up with his own talking points, but he does not use them without higher approval. Who authorized him to blame the video? Who made the video the focus of the Ben Rhodes email? Was it, has some have long suspected, the president’s campaign advisers, who would have wanted to ensure that Benghazi did not blow up Obama’s line that “al Qaeda is on the run”?
Who is now authorizing Jay Carney to continue his transparently dishonest spin on Benghazi?
h/t Guy Benson