By Melanie Batley
WASHINGTON D.C. – An email obtained by the government watchdog Judicial Watch shows that a senior White House official advised then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice to blame a spontaneous protest from a YouTube video for the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Fox News reported.
Fox’s chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reported that the Sept. 14, 2012, email shows that White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes advised Rice to focus on a YouTube video as the cause of a spontaneous protest, though transcripts have since been revealed to show that senior defense officials had informed the administration on the night of the event that the assault was a terrorist attack.
Rhodes outlined a number of talking points for Rice, with the advice “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”
“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.
“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,” he added, referring to the organization having obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Among the top administration personnel who received the Rhodes memo 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 Adviser and political strategist David Plouffe.
The Rhodes communications strategy email also instructs recipients to portray Obama as “steady and statesmanlike” throughout the crisis. Rhodes also says in the message that one of the goals is to “reinforce the president and administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”