Judicial Watch reports that a newly declassified email shows former "White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes and other Obama administration public relations officials attempting to orchestrate a campaign to 'reinforce' President Obama and to portray the Benghazi consulate terrorist attack as being 'rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy.'"
The email was included in a set of documents regarding then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice's talking points on Benghazi, which Judicial Watch had sought since October 18, 2012, and were released June 21, 2013, as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
One of the goals listed in Rhodes' email: "To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy"
Notice how he refers to the attack as a "protest." He expanded on the "Internet video" scenario in a section titled "Top-lines":
]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.
The email also instructed recipients to refer to Obama as "steady and statesmanlike."
An email from Payton Knopf to Susan Rice noted that State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland revealed in a press briefing that the attack was well planned:Responding to a question about whether it was an organized terror attack, Toria said that she couldn't speak to the identity of the perpetrators but that it was clearly a complex attack.
Despite this, Rice appeared on mainstream media programs, still claiming that it had been a spontaneous protest:
]ased on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi
] a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy-sparked by this hateful video.
That statement contradicts contemporaneous emails which dramatically described the incident as an "attack," including this one from Senior Advisor Eric Pelofsky to Susan Rice:As reported, the Benghazi compound came under attack and it took a bit of time for the 'Annex' colleagues and Libyan February 17 brigade to secure it. One of our colleagues was killed -- IMO Sean Smith. Amb Chris Stevens, who was visiting Benghazi this week is missing. U.S. and Libyan colleagues are looking for him
"Now we know the Obama White House's chief concern about the Benghazi attack was making sure that President Obama looked good," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "And these documents undermine the Obama administration's narrative that it thought the Benghazi attack had something to do with protests or an Internet video. Given the explosive material in these documents, it is no surprise that we had to go to federal court to pry them loose from the Obama State Department."