Email Shows White House Coaching Rice on Benghazi

Critics have long said her talk show appearance was a political move

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted May 1, 2014 7:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – The White House did coach Susan Rice on how to discuss the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, a newly released email shows. The email was sent on Sept. 14, 2012, three days after the attack, from deputy national security adviser Benjamin J. Rhodes to Rice, who was then ambassador to the UN, the New York Times reports. The subject line is "PREP CALL with Susan," and the email includes goals and advice for Rice's appearance on several Sunday talk shows two days later, during which she blamed the attack on protests, not terrorism.

Rhodes said one goal was for Rice to "underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy," which aligns with what critics have long said: that Rice didn't link the attacks to terrorism because it would signal a failure of the Obama White House's war on terror—and that it was therefore a political move, not one based on intelligence considerations. But White House press secretary Jay Carney downplayed the new email, which was released in response to a FOIA request, saying it "was explicitly not about Benghazi but about the general dynamic in the Arab, or in the Muslim world, at the time." Nevertheless, at least one Republican lawmaker is pushing for a select committee to investigate the attack in the wake of the new email, Fox News reports, and another wants the White House to release all related emails, including ones that have been redacted for national security purposes, USA Today notes.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice listens to reporters questions, Friday, March 21, 2014, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice listens to reporters questions, Friday, March 21, 2014, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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