White House defends Benghazi email
By: Jonathan Topaz
April 30, 2014 09:05 AM EDT
The Obama administration Wednesday said recently released emails on the 2012 Benghazi attacks reflected what officials “understood to be the facts at the time.”
“In the email Ben Rhodes makes clear that our primary goals included making sure our people in the field were protected and bringing those responsible for the attacks to justice,” Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The content reflects what the administration was saying at the time and what we understood to be the facts at the time.”
“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,” the statement continued. “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.”
Meehan’s statement also noted that the email stated that Rice was not on the Sunday shows “to talk politics.”
The White House was responding to a 2012 email obtained by Judicial Watch, in which deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes discussed “goals” for then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s appearances on Sunday talk shows following the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. According to Judicial Watch, the email was sent to White House press secretary Jay Carney, as well as David Plouffe and Dan Pfeiffer.
GOP lawmakers have seized on the email, saying that it suggests that the administration was indeed part of a coverup on Benghazi to protect President Barack Obama during his presidential reelection campaign.
Senate Armed Services Committee member Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Rhodes’ email “a smoking gun,” and fellow committee member Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa of California also expressed concerns that the emails suggest a false White House narrative on the attacks.