The Corner

The Truth Drips Out

For over a year and a half the White House successfully withheld communications between public servants, apparently in hopes that the death of four Americans in Benghazi would not become an issue in the 2012 election (at the eleventh hour CNN’s Candy Crowley did her best to ensure that goal by unethically becoming both moderator and advocate of Barack Obama in the second debate).

Even with the heavily censored and redacted recent releases of White House e-mails, one of the many messaging “goals” of Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes (“To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy”) is the evidence that proves exactly what the White House so far has denied: the highest White House officials were in a pre-election frenzy to pressure almost everyone from the White House staffers to the CIA to massage the truth of how four Americans died in Benghazi in order to keep up a campaign-driven facade of a spontaneous video-driven riot, one that trumped the truth of a pre-planned terrorist attack, the possibility of which intelligence officers had on prior occasions warned about and were ignored. 

These heavily redacted talking points reveal three truths that won’t go away: 1) the administration has lied about the reasons they promulgated false information that they knew at the time to be false; 2) the false, campaign-driven narrative that it was not a terrorist attack reflected prior laxity that they knew at the time increased risk, (and hampered proper focus on the true perpetrators, whose prompt arrest and capture might have negated their false narratives); and 3) they jailed a minor parole violator while falsely alleging that a video he had made had led to the deaths of Americans from an impromptu riot.

Rhodes’s now-released memo also went out to some of those who have denied that there was any effort to peddle a false narrative, including press secretary Jay Carney. There is a creepy incestuousness to the entire debacle (Rhodes is a brother to the CBS president, the CBS that later hired Mike Morell, the CIA appointee who earlier “went over” the talking points with the White House staff, the CBS that pressured CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson on the content and choice of her reporting on Benghazi; Mr. Morell was later hired both by CBS and by a security firm, Beacon Global Strategies, involved with officials closely connected with Hillary Clinton, who was knee-deep in the Benghazi mess, and on and on).

Because untruth was at the heart of not just the cover-up, but also of the lax security and response that led to the deaths of the four Americans, this scandal, despite the collusion of the  White House, the CIA, and CBS, won’t go away.

At the very least, Mr. Rhodes should step down; he has been not been truthful and his immediate reaction to the disaster in Benghazi did not reflect his responsibilities to ensure national security, but rather a role as a political operative to suppress the truth. He was the coordinator of the White House messaging effort to prep official spokespeople—Jay Carney especially—and institutionalized a lie.

How in current and future crises, could he ever be trusted to coordinate a national-security response based on unpleasant realities on the ground rather than domestic political calculations?

Even with stonewalling, groupthink, legal maneuvering, media collusion, and lack of an independent prosecutor, more of the truth will drip out.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

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