May 6, 2014

“Have You Read The (Benghazi) Email?”

Benghazi email header

Last week, it was revealed that an email explicitly mentioning Benghazi had not been produced by the Obama administration in response to congressional requests for documents about Benghazi. Incredibly, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says that was because the document in question was not about Benghazi.

Congressional investigators last year sought documents from the executive branch related to the terrorist attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. When that happens, the administration must turn over all documents responsive to the request unless a document is protected from disclosure by some form of legal privilege.  

Last week, reporters asked Carney why an email by Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes — about preparing then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice for Sunday talk shows — was not produced in response to requests for documents about Benghazi. The shows were specifically promoted as being about Benghazi. Carney’s response was that “the email and the talking points were not about Benghazi, they were about the general situation in the Muslim world. ... It was not explicitly about Benghazi.”

Carney was not claiming the document was protected from release by legal privilege, but rather did not have to be released because it was non-responsive to the request for documents about Benghazi. He doubled-down on that position the next day, responding that the document was not about Benghazi, and asking a reporter incredulously, “Have you read the email?”

Let’s read the email

The chain began with an email on a Friday night to a collection of Obama administration political and communications advisors announcing a phone call on Saturday to prepare Ambassador Rice for her appearance on the Sunday shows. This initial email went on to say how the networks were promoting their shows for that weekend. For example:

Benghazi show promos

The email continued with Rhodes suggesting talking points and answers to potential questions.

Benghazi White House talking points

The obvious question is, has Jay Carney — or anyone else in the White House — read the Benghazi email?

What other documents explicitly mentioning Benghazi have not been produced, under the pretext that they were not about Benghazi?

It’s been more than 600 days since the U.S. Ambassador to Libya was assassinated in Benghazi and terrorists murdered three other Americans. President Obama vowed “to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.” Instead of offering nonsense excuses for its failure to comply with a congressional investigation, maybe the administration could give us an update on that effort.

Issue Tag: National Security