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Judicial Watch finds Benghazi documents point to WH misleading the public

U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (R), and U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) listen to questions during a news conference about Benghazi on Capitol Hill, April 9, 2014 in Washington, DC.
U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (R), and U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) listen to questions during a news conference about Benghazi on Capitol Hill, April 9, 2014 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Judicial Watch (JW) stated on Tuesday that it has obtained 41 new Benghazi-related State Department documents, which include a declassified email that shows that former White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes and other Obama administration public relations officials attempting to orchestrate a campaign of deception.

Within the documents, they show the attempt to reinforce that the Benghazi consulate terrorist attack was the result of an Internet video, and not a failure of policy while other said documents show where the State Department decided to describe the attack as nothing more than a possible kidnap attack.

Judicial Watch had been trying to obtain those documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FIOA) since October 18, 2012 but finally received them on April 18, 2014, nearly two years later.

Within the documents, Judicial Watch uncovered an email sent by Rhodes in which contained a 112-page document labeled, a “Goal”: “To underscore that these protests are rooted in and Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.”

Rhodes returns to the “Internet video” scenario later in the email however, the first point in a section labeled “Top-lines”, Rhodes said, “We’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.”

Among those within the Obama administration who received the email were White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Deputy Press Secretary Joshua Earnest, then-White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, then-White House Deputy Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri, then-National Security Council Director of Communications Erin Pelton.

Special Assistant to the Press Secretary Howli Ledbetter, and then-White House Senior Advisor, and political strategist Davie Plouffe also received the email.

Tom Judicial, Judicial Watch President said, “The CIA talking points, that were prepared for Congress and may have been used by Rice on “Face the Nation” and four additional Sunday talk shows on September 16, had been heavily edited by then-CIA deputy director Mike Morell.”

According to one email, then-CIA deputy director Mike Morell alluded to the fact that the points were not good and that he would be happy to work with then deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton Jake Sullivan and Rhodes to develop appropriate talking points.

The documents obtained also include a September 12, 2012, email from former Deputy Spokesman at U.S. Mission to the United Nations Payton Knopf to Susan Rice, noting that at a press briefing earlier that day, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland explicitly stated that the attack on the consulate had been well planned.

In the days following the Knopf email, Rice appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News and CNN still claiming the assaults occurred “spontaneously” in response to the “hateful video.” On Sunday, September 16, 2012, Rice told CBS’s “Face the Nation”, "But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as 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."

Fitton said that although the documents they obtained contained much more material, unfortunately, much of the material was blacked out or redacted in several more emails that were sent.

“Now we know the Obama White House’s chief concern about the Benghazi attack was making sure that President Obama looked good,” said 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.”

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