Back at Benghazi

May 2, 2014

This week Republicans tried to revive the Benghazi hoax—again. This time they are claiming that an email from a White House aide is a “smoking gun” though there’s nothing new in it. Here’s how to debunk this latest attempt to spin the tragedy into a fake scandal and expose the real one—Congressional Republicans’ willingness to use false reports and falsified emails to smear President Obama, mislead the public and dishonor members of our military. 

TOPLINES 

Republicans have turned a real tragedy into a craven hoax.
Four Americans died bravely serving our country in Benghazi.
But conservative politicians don’t see Benghazi as a tragedy—they see it as an opportunity to score political points. Congressional Republicans and conservative media keep coming up with false reports and falsified emails to try to spin the tragedy into a phony scandal.
There were 13 embassy attacks during the Bush Administration. 88 people, not including attackers, were killed in those attacks. Of those, 11 were Americans. Not a single one of those attacks was turned into a scandal.
Republicans claim that a newly disclosed email by White House aide Ben Rhodes shows the White House was trying to mislead the American public. All it did was repeat the talking points from the CIA.
It’s been over a year and a half and we’ve spent millions of dollars parsing email after email and none of it changed a thing. Why are we still talking about this?
Republicans’ obsession with their Benghazi smears just shows how completely uninterested they are in dealing with the real problems that Americans face today.
That’s the real scandal: conservatives using false reports and falsifying White House emails to score political points, even to the point of dishonoring the men and women who keep our country safe. It’s time for accountability.

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ATTACKS AND RESPONSES

ATTACK:The Rhodes email proves that the White House was trying to cover up the fact that Benghazi was a terrorist attack for political reasons.”

RESPONSE:

  • The Rhodes email reveals nothing new: It is consistent with other intelligence briefings circulating at the time which have already been well-documented, and discusses a wide range of issues, not just events in Benghazi.
  • Around the time of the Benghazi attack, there were multiple protests around the world to the anti-Islamic video that mocked the prophet Muhammad. Those protests occurred in more than two dozen countries. Many experts still contend that the attack in Benghazi was probably opportunistic and not pre-planned: the attackers took advantage of actual protests to quickly stage an attack.
  • The language Rhodes in email tracks the initial draft of the CIA talking points from earlier that day, which suggests that Rhodes was using that document to ensure the administration’s statements were consistent with the intelligence community’s conclusions.
  • No one intentionally misled the American public. A bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence determined that “there were no efforts by the White House or any other Executive Branch entities to ‘cover-up’ facts or make alterations for political purposes” — a reality that some conservative media and Republicans have refused to accept.

WORTH KNOWING

The Rhodes Email

  • Judicial Watch filed its initial FOIA request on October 18, 2012. The Department acknowledged that the request was received on October 26, 2012. Judicial Watch filed suit on June 21, 2013 after hearing no response from State.
  • It appears the State Department released an initial round of documents February 24, 2014 that were responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request. The State Department then followed up with Judicial Watch–it appears that it voluntarily provided “41 additional documents that are responsive to your request. … Additionally, upon further consideration, we have determined that additional information may be released in 3 documents that were previously released in part.”
  • It was in this second FOIA response that the Rhodes email was released: Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes wrote the email on September 14, 2012 to other national security aides about goals for Ambassador Rice’s Sunday interviews and a series of potential questions Rich might face and answers for each.

Click for Franklin Forum’s Previous Work on Related Topics

  • More on the last time Benghazi reporting was fabricated.
  • More on Benghazi background information.