President Barack Obama has never explained what he did on the night of the 9/11/2012 attack in Benghazi, but it is known that he made a phone call to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while the attack was still unfolding.
The readout of the phone call is being withheld by the State Department on the basis of what’s called “B-5.” The administration claims the information isn’t classified, but represents “internal deliberations about the 2012 terror assault.”
Fox News‘ Catherine Herridge reported that legal experts say that B-5 status may not be enough to keep the records out of the public domain because of a rather gaping loophole. “If there’s any suggestion that there was misconduct, or in this case, discussion of the video explanation, they could not withhold [the phone readout] under the exemption.”
It had previously been disclosed that Clinton and Obama spoke the night of the terror attacks. But the documents offer additional information about the timing of the call — after the initial attack on the U.S. consulate, but before the second wave where mortars hit the nearby CIA annex and killed former Navy SEALs Ty Woods and Glen Doherty.
The contents of the call, however, are being withheld, not because the information is classified but because the administration claims they represent internal deliberations about the 2012 terror assault.
The claim comes as Clinton also faces accusations that she withheld Benghazi-related emails from her private server in the trove of emails handed over to the State Department.
The contents of the call were only shared with Obama’s and Clinton’s closest aides. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes sent an email on the call to State Department officials Jake Sullivan and Philippe Reines, and National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan.
The email was released as part of an ongoing lawsuit by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.The email on the Obama-Clinton phone call bears the subject line, “Call.” The text of the email says, “Readout of President’s Call to Secretary Clinton,” but the rest of the details are fully redacted. The State Department cited the so-called “B5” exception for internal deliberations.
The emails also show that Rhodes, on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, and before the attack was over, endorsed a statement from Clinton that cited an anti-Islam Internet video.
Clinton said in a statement following the 10:00 p.m. phone call that “some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.”
And the next day, NSC spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan sent an email to State and NSC officials saying Rhodes would host a conference call that morning “to ensure we are all in sync on messaging for the rest of the day.” Which is why we kept hearing about the anti-Mohammed YouTube video over and over again in the days that followed. They continued the ruse until it was no longer tenable.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement: “It is little wonder that Mrs. Clinton and the entire Obama administration have fought so hard to keep these documents from the American people — they shine a spotlight on the administration’s incompetence and indifference. All evidence now points to Hillary Clinton, with the approval of the White House, as being the source the Internet video lie.”
On Fox News, Fitton said, “If it were helpful [the phone call readout would be released, in my view. It’s unhelpful, and that’s why they’re keeping it secret.”
In May of 2013, Charles Krauthammer on Fox News’ Special Report surmised that the 10:00 pm. Clinton/Obama phone call could be “the biggest scandal of all.”
“The biggest scandal of all, the biggest question is what was the president doing in those eight hours,” Krauthammer said. “He had a routine meeting at five o’clock. He never during the eight hours when our guys have their lives in danger, he never called the Secretary of Defense, he never calls the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he never calls the CIA Director. Who does he call? Five hours in he calls the Secretary of State. And after the phone call she releases a statement essentially about the video and how we denounce any intolerance. It looks as if the only phone call is to construct a cover story at a time when the last two Americans who died were still alive and fighting for their lives. There’s the scandal and that has to be uncovered.”