President Barack Obama, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, delivers a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House, Sept. 12, 2012, regarding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Say what you will about the Obama White House’s passive indifference to everything from the Department of Veterans Affairs to Americans taking fire on foreign soil, but their political spin team moves like lightning. According to House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa – discussing a White House memo that for some reason still remains “classified,” so he can only quote brief snippets – Team Obama was on the horn to YouTube firming up their “spontaneous video protest” fantasy while the Benghazi attack was still in progress. From ABC News:
The memo suggests that even as the attack was still underway — and before the CIA began the process of compiling talking points on its analysis of what happened — the White House believed it was in retaliation for a controversial video.
The subject line of the e-mail, which was sent at 9:11 p.m. Eastern Time on the night of the attack, is “Update on Response to actions – Libya.” The e-mail was written hours before the attack was over.
Issa has asked the White House to declassify and release the document. In the meantime he has inserted a sentence from the e-mail in the Congressional Record.
“White House is reaching out to U-Tube [sic] to advice ramification of the posting of the Pastor Jon video,” the e-mail reads, according to Issa.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the smartest, hippest, most tech-savvy Administration in history: they not only got the name of YouTube wrong, but they got the name of the guy promoting the “Innocence of Muslims” film wrong. (His name was Terry Jones, not “Pastor Jon.”)
White House spinmeisters tried to pass off this memo as evidence of their sincerity in believing the Benghazi attack was an act of extreme movie criticism, carried out by people who rushed home to grab their precision-guided mortars out of the closet before delivering a resounding “thumbs down” to the YouTube video. That’s probably the only way for Team Obama to play this, but they haven’t thought the implications of that argument all the way through, as Rep. Issa has:
Asked about the document, a senior White House official told ABC News it demonstrates that the White House genuinely believed the video sparked the attack all along, a belief that turned out to be incorrect.
“We actually think this proves what we’ve said. We were concerned about the video, given all the protests in region,” the official said. And the intelligence community “was also concerned about the video.”
Issa has an entirely different view. He contends the document contradicts the White House assertion that it was the CIA who first pinned blame for the attack on protests in response to the anti-Islamic video.
“The e-mail shows the White House had hurried to settle on a false narrative — one at odds with the conclusions reached by those on the ground — before Americans were even out of harm’s way or the intelligence community had made an impartial examination of available evidence,” Issa said.
Issa is calling on the White House to release an unclassified version of the document.
I know this is all supposed to be “old news” and “dude, that was like two years ago” and whatnot, but if you’ve got the attention span to resist Obama’s efforts to drag this story out until it fades away, you’ll recall how much emphasis the White House placed on their phony excuses about the CIA misleading them on the matter of the Video of Doom. President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Vice President Joe Biden were happy to throw the intelligence community under the bus – they made a really big deal about it during the last month of the 2012 election. And here’s a smoking-gun memo that proves none of their excuses were ever true; they were hustling that Spontaneous Video Protest story while the attack was still in progress, at a moment when nobody on the ground in Libya thought the video was more than an extremely tangential part of the situation, at best.
What the White House sincerely but mistakenly believed on the night of the attacks would be less of an issue if the President, Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and the rest of their crew had conducted themselves with honor afterwards. It’s still extremely difficult to get from what was known about the Benghazi attack while it was under way, to the White House’s claim that they really thought it was just a man-on-the-street protest that got rowdy… but even if you grant them credit for being honestly wrong in the dark hours of September 11, 2012, it doesn’t excuse what they did over the next few weeks. They clung to the Spontaneous Video Protest narrative beyond all reason, to the point of repeating that crap into the faces of the slain Americans’ families at a memorial ceremony, with Clinton vowing to get the guy who made the video.
Everything we’ve learned over the past few years, including these latest revelations, is consistent with a President and Secretary of State who put politics and the 2012 election campaign over everything else, including the lives of the Americans under attack… because they were calling YouTube to rail about the video before the terrorists’ guns fell silent. Nobody did anything to even try helping the people who were taking fire, but they had time to hassle YouTube?
How does this swift urgency to crack down on “offensive” videos make the Obama White House look anything but hideous? So much for the American commitment to free speech – we gotta tell Internet services to think twice about posting anything violent Muslim extremists don’t like, pronto! It’s politics over principle again… and it also emphasizes how easily terrorists could manipulate the Obama foreign policy team. Not even the earlier Cairo protests, which included the vandalism of the U.S. Embassy, were actually “about” that YouTube video; they were mainly about getting the Blind Sheikh, architect of the first World Trade Center attacks, repatriated to Egypt. And that spontaneous man-on-the-street action in Cairo ended with the black flag of al-Qaedaflying over the embassy - a detail that would have drawn more lasting attention, if not for the horrible events to unfold in Libya.
Obama and his team could have handled Benghazi by admitting they were wrong about the initial Spontaneous Video Protest story, openly discussing what actually happened on 9/11/12, discussing the situation in Libya prior to the attacks, and offering a frank discussion of the decision-making process that led to an undefended U.S. ambassador going into a terrorist hot zone on the biggest day of the al-Qaeda fan’s calendar. But that’s not what they did, and it’s painfully obvious why. The last thing they wanted, two months out from the election, was for the American people (and the opposing candidate) to ask hard questions about how Benghazi happened, and why contingency plans were not in place. That’s why the whole thing had to be pawned off as the most shocking and unexpected event in the history of foreign policy – caused not by Obama and Clinton’s bungling, but by some joker with a video camera.
The American people needed to know that Barack Obama and his people think about politics and spin first when a crisis hits, before they voted in November 2012. It is a dereliction of the media’s duty that the true story was obscured until after the election was over.