Deputy National Security Adviser for Communication Ben Rhodes appears to have outlined the administration’s strategy to handling the attacks in an email before holding a phone conversation with National Security Adviser Susan Rice. That email has been obtained by Judicial Watch.
Among the stated “goals” in the email, dated Friday, September 14, 2012, was to push the narrative that protests led to the attacks on the U.S. consulate. These protests were supposedly the result of an anti-Islam video posted to the internet. The plan found in the email was to push the narrative that the attacks were not the result of “a broader failure of policy.”
The attacks in Benghazi led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Rhodes has been at the center of controversy since a Thursday New York Times Magazine profile describing his strategy to push the Iran nuclear deal by manipulating media sources and crafting a false narrative around Iranian leadership.
In addition to each goal, Rhodes included a talking point line, one such reads,”we reject its message and its contents. We find it disgusting and reprehensible.”
The email contained a list of what appears to be potential questions that Rice would answer on talks shows, complete with prescribed answers. One proposed question asks about a report by the Independent, which claimed the government had intelligence warning of the potential attacks 48-hours before they occurred, which was subsequently ignored. The prescribed response stated: “We are not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.” The planned response noted the protests and subsequent attacks were “spontaneously inspired” by protests at the U.S. embassy in Egypt.
It has become clear that Rice’s 2012 claims that the attacks were prompted by the video were false. Additionally, a report by Judicial Watch has since shown that the Defense Intelligence Agency had knowledge that an al-Qaida affiliate planned the attack ten days earlier, contradicting the point that it was spontaneous.
Rice would make the rounds on Sunday talk shows the day after the meeting, pushing the narrative outlined in the email nearly verbatim.