The Corner

White House Lies About the Benghazi Talking Points

Brother Geraghty leads the Morning Jolt today with the breaking news from ABC that President Obama’s spokesman, Jay Carney, lied on behalf of his principal when he told the public that the fraudulent Benghazi talking-points were essentially an intelligence community product that represented the IC’s best analysis of what had happened on September 11.

Steve Hayes broke the essence of this news in the Weekly Standard a week ago, so maybe it’s better to describe ABC’s report “breaking elaboration.” Recall, though, that the fraudulent talking-points were the basis for the fraudulent appearance on the Sunday talk shows by President Obama’s ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice. She pretended on behalf of her principal that the jihadist massacre in Benghazi resulted from a spontaneous “protest” provoked by the purported scourge of Islamophobia (here, an anti-Islamic Internet video). As the administration well knew – indeed, knew from on-scene intel supplied throughout the siege – the State Department compound was actually subjected to a coordinated attack by al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists.

ABC News reports that the talking-points went through at least 12 different edits, gradually deleting, among other key things, references to Ansar al-Sharia. That’s the local al Qaeda franchise that orchestrated the Benghazi operation, in which four Americans, including our ambassador to Libya, were murdered and many others were wounded, some quite seriously. The rewrites to which the talking-points were subjected blatantly contradict Carney’s whoppers, which maintained that the talking points were the substantially unvarnished assessment of intelligence professionals as to which only a “single adjustment” was made by the White House and State Department (changing “consulate” to “diplomatic facility”), and any other changes were “stylistic and not substantive.”

Two thoughts occur.

First, does the White House press corps have any self-respect? Sometime during the administration of that other Clinton, these journalists went from seeing their job as watchdog keeping democratic government honest to admiring raconteurs of how artfully the were lied to. Compared to Bill Clinton, Barack Obama is a crude liar – more brass-knuckles, Chicago-style “What are you gonna do about it?” than Yale Law School meets Bubba glib – and Benghazi cannot be sloughed off as “lies about sex.” Are these reporters going to keep functioning as the adjunct to Carney’s office, or will a few of them actually start treating a travesty involving four murdered Americans as if it were nearly as serious as a kerfuffle involving sixteen words?

Second is the State Department. In my weekend column – on the home-page this morning – I explain how Obama’s Mohammed Video fraud undermined the Islamic-democracy project. This project was the top Middle East policy priority of the Bush- and Clinton-era State Department, and Obama has claimed to champion it. We now know, however, that the Obama State Department, under Secretary Clinton, was just as complicit as the White House in peddling the video canard, and may have been even more culpable in editing the truth out of the talking points – motivated, as Jim observes, by a naked desire to keep Congress and the public in the dark about Clinton’s recklessness in failing to ensure adequate security at a facility that had already been targeted by terrorists before the night of September 11.

I’m not a fan of “Islamic-democracy” promotion for reasons I’ve articulated more times than I can count in these pages. But most in Washington and in the press are. That being the case, shouldn’t some heads be rolling at Foggy Bottom?


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