The attack by militants on September 11, 2012, killed four
Americans at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, including Ambassador
Days later, then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice
appeared on television news shows and said the violence resulted
from a spontaneous crowd reacting to an inflammatory video rather
than the work of Islamic militants.
When Rice's account proved incorrect, Republican lawmakers accused
her of trying to protect Obama during his re-election campaign,
which the White House disputed. Rice is now Obama's national
Judicial Watch sought documents related to the Benghazi attacks
through the Freedom of Information Act and obtained them earlier
this month. On Tuesday, it pointed to an email from Ben Rhodes,
Obama's deputy national security adviser for strategic
communications, which discussed preparations for Rice's appearances
on the shows.
The email lists one goal as being "to underscore that these protests
are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of
It also emphasizes Obama's leadership and stresses his statesmanlike
"Now we know the Obama White House's chief concern about the
Benghazi attack was making sure that President Obama looked good,"
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement on the
A White House spokeswoman said the email contained "general topline
talking points" about the unrest spreading throughout the Middle
East at the time.
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Rhodes' email also made clear the administration's primary goals
involved protecting people in the field and bringing to justice
those responsible for the attacks, said Bernadette Meehan,
spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.
"Unlike those who insist on politicizing the events in Benghazi, our
focus remains on ensuring that a tragedy like this isn't repeated in
Libya or anywhere else in the world," Meehan added.
"In our view, 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."
Last year, the White House released reams of emails related to the
controversy that showed the talking points for Rice went through a
series of revisions that scrubbed them of references to terror
warnings before the deadly attacks.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; editing by Andre Grenon)
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