Ben Rhodes

White House told Susan Rice to blame Benghazi on a YouTube video

This is a pretty big “get” by Judicial Watch. The conservative watchdog organization filed suit in last summer to gain access to documents related to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack. Those emails were released by the organization on Tuesday.

Among the 41 documents obtained by Judicial Watch is an email from then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes to other prominent White House officials that focused on goals tailored around a very specific narrative: blame Benghazi on a video and not policy failures:

The Rhodes email was sent on sent on Friday, September 14, 2012, at 8:09 p.m. with the subject line:  “RE: PREP CALL with Susan, Saturday at 4:00 pm ET.”  The documents show that the “prep” was for Amb. Rice’s Sunday news show appearances to discuss the Benghazi attack.

White House official’s brother a day after Benghazi: Our government thinks this was a coordinated attack

David Rhodes

On September 12, 2012, the day after the deadly Benghazi attack, CBS News President David Rhodes offered some insight into Obama administration’s thinking at the time.

“Our government thinks that, you know, there’s a really good chance this was not just a spontaneous mob reaction to what some thought was an offensive film,” Rhodes said, “but actually a coordinated effort timed to the 9/11 anniversary.”

Rhodes was speaking to the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, filling in for a report who was covering the Benghazi attack. Parsing his words here, it tells us that the administration taking everything into account — the YouTube video, which had sparked protests in Egypt and other countries, and the involvement of Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamic militant organization with ties to al-Qaeda.

What makes these comments so relevant is that David Rhodes is the brother of Ben Rhodes, the then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Director and author of an email directing then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to spin the attack as a reaction to an anti-Muslim YouTube video. The Rhodes email was authored on September 14, three days after the attack.

Ron Fournier: White House Put Politics Before Transparency On Benghazi

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National Journal’s Ron Fournier says that the Obama administration put politics first when it came to the narrative shaping that went on after the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks.

“If there’s a smoking gun here, it’s the email that shows Rhodes, working for the President, said that our goal here, our number one goal here, is showing on the Sunday talk shows through Susan Rice that the President is strong on foreign policy,” said Fournier this morning on CNN. “That was the goal.”

Fournier is referring to obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog organization, which included an email from then-White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes to other prominent White House officials listing goals for then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to communicate on Sunday talk shows.

Among the goals listed in the email from Rhodes was “[t]o underscore that these protests are rooted in and Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”

“The goal wasn’t to find out the truth and find out what happened and make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said Fournier. “They put politics first,” he added, noting that Benghazi began the undermining of President Obama’s credibility, followed by the IRS scandal and the now-infamous lie that Americans could keep their health plans under Obamacare.


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