“These changes don’t resolve all of my issues or those of my building’s leadership.” With that sentence, one in a series of emails and draft “talking points” leaked to Jonathan Karl of ABC News, the Obama administration was caught
playing politics with Benghazi.
Summaries of White House and State Department emails -- some of which were first published by Stephen F. Hayes of the Weekly Standard -- also contradict the White House version
of events that led to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice misleading the public
about the cause of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. installation in Libya.
It would be naïve to expect any White House to ignore the political implications of a foreign policy crisis occurring two months before a presidential election
. But there is a reason why no White House admits to finessing a tragedy:
It's unseemly. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland injected politics into the U.S. response
to Benghazi when she raised objections to draft “talking points” being prepared for Rice’s television appearances.
The paragraph was deleted. The truth was scrubbed.
Nuland still had concerns. “These changes don’t resolve all of my issues or those of my buildings (sic) leadership
,” she wrote.
An administration official familiar with Nuland's thinking said she was worried that the CIA was trying to exonerate itself at the expense of the State Department
by suggesting that security warnings were ignored.
But regardless of Nuland's motive, this is now clear: The Obama administration let political considerations cloud the public record
. For far too long, the White House shied away from calling Benghazi a terrorist attack
and stood behind Rice’s initial statement that it was inspired by protests over a crude anti-Islamic video.
The White House has long maintained that the talking points were drafted almost exclusively by the CIA, a claim that gave cover to both President Obama and his potential successor, Clinton. “Those talking points originated from the intelligence community,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in November, adding that the only editing by the White House or the State Department was to change the word "consulate" to "diplomatic facility." The emails prove him wrong
Significant edits to the talking points were discussed at the White House
[italics fournier's] the day before Rice's appearance on five Sunday shows, said the official familiar with Nuland's thinking, who added that she did not attend the meeting.
Throw Hillary under the bus?
In a statement to ABC, Carney notably insulates the West Wing and not the State Department by saying “the only edits made by anyone here at the White House were stylistic and nonsubstantive
And, with no apparent regard to hypocrisy, Carney criticized the GOP for attempting to “politicize the talking points.”
Drip, drip, drip: There is almost certainly more to come.
While Karl and Hayes did not disclose their sources, a hallmark of congressional investigations is to leak selected evidence to embarrass the sitting administration
. It’s a safe bet that these emails, produced voluntarily for Congress by the State Department, were summarized and leaked by Republicans. The Obama White House might want to borrow a page from the scandal-ridden Clinton playbook: Release all Benghazi documents at a time and manner of their choosing, before the GOP does so.