At long last we have the email of assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for strategic communications (hack/flack) Ben Rhodes on the urgent need to disseminate the (patently false) message that the video got Ambassador Stevens et al. killed in the 9/11 Benghazi attack. Catherine Herridge observes:
Newly released emails on the Benghazi terror attack suggest a senior White House aide played a central role in preparing former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice for her controversial Sunday show appearances — where she wrongly blamed protests over an Internet video.
The Rhodes email was not part of the 100 pages of emails released by the administration last May — after Republicans refused to move forward with the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director until the so-called “talking points” emails were made public.
The email is also significant because in congressional testimony in early April, former deputy CIA director Michael Morell told lawmakers it was Rice, in her Sunday show appearances, who linked the video to the Benghazi attack. Morell said the video was not part of the CIA analysis.
Herridge carefully separates the known from the unknown:
The Sept. 14 Rhodes email does not indicate whether there was a “prep call” for Rice, as it suggests. If the call went ahead, it does not indicate who briefed her.
National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan played down the Rhodes email, telling Fox News in a statement: “There were protests taking place across the region in reaction to an offensive internet video, so that’s what these points addressed. There were known protests in Cairo, Sanaa, Khartoum, and Tunis as well as early reports of similar protests in Benghazi, which contributed to questions of how the attack began…. These documents only serve to reinforce what we have long been saying: that in the days after September 11, 2012, we were concerned by unrest occurring across the region and that we provided our best assessment of what was happening at the time.”
The statement did not address Fox News’ specific questions asking whether White House personnel, particularly Rhodes, briefed Rice before the Sunday shows, and what intelligence Rhodes relied on when he referred to the video.
I think we can make the appropriate inferences from the White House statement. Nevertheless, Rhodes should be able to clear up a few open issues, including the failure to produce the text of the email earlier, the ground for the continuing redaction, and the source of his belief regarding the video. At this point, all roads lead to the ineffably lame Rhodes.
UPDATE: I should add that Sharyl Attkisson — out from under the jurisdiction of Rhodes’s brother at CBS News — has more here. Please check it out.
AND THEN THERE IS THIS: Ed Lasky fingered Rhodes a year ago as “Obama’s fixer behind the Benghazi cover-up.”