"I want to wish Hillary a Happy Mother's Day. She has her child. I don't have mine because of her."
If this scandal had occurred under a Republican president, Pat Smith would be a household name, a la Cindy Sheehan, with "absolute moral authority" to slam the White House. The difference, of course, is that Sheehan's son volunteered to take up arms and fight, and the Bush administration never misled anyone about the circumstances of his death. Smith's bitterness and lasting pain is difficult to watch. Her frustration over being lied to by numerous administration officials -- "nose-to-nose," as she put it in another interview -- is palpable. Like the rest of the American people, Smith still lacks satisfactory answers. Indeed, during his mendacious Friday press briefing, White House spokesman Jay Carney stretched, strained and violated the truth on numerous occasions:
In response to a question about why he and others at the White House repeatedly pointed to a YouTube video as the cause of the attacks in Benghazi, Carney claimed that he was working from the same talking points as U.N. ambassador Susan Rice. But the video was not mentioned in any of the dozen drafts of talking points. Carney also claimed that Rice devoted some of her time on five Sunday shows September 16 talking “about the possibility that al Qaeda might be involved or other al Qaeda affiliates might be involved or non-al Qaeda Libyan extremists.” But as BuzzFeed notes, that’s not really true. “Outside of a brief mention on CBS’s Face the Nation, Rice mostly did not discuss the involvement of al Qaeda or al Qaeda affiliates.” Carney claimed that there was no hard evidence before Susan Rice’s television appearances on September 16 that terrorists linked to al Qaeda were involved in the attacks. That’s simply not true. Beth Jones, acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs at the State Department, sent an email on September 12 reporting “the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists.” Within 48 hours, the U.S. government had multiple streams of intelligence indicating that Ansar al Sharia was involved...
So the months-long misinformation campaign continues apace. Another frequent Carney assertion was that despite 12 separate revisions to the talking points, the final product still reflected the "best assessment" of the intelligence community. This is patently untrue, as re-confirmed by ABC News this morning. In fact, the White House's desired talking points were so "useless" that the CIA director personally rejected them the day before Susan Rice made her infamous talk show rounds:
RADDATZ: About those. How about CIA Director David Petraeus? How did he respond to these talking points? And I know you have new information on that.
KARL: Yeah, this is fascinating. Because Mike Morrell, who was the deputy director, was the one that ultimately signed off on this one. Petraeus finally saw the final version of the talking points. This is the Saturday afternoon before Susan Rice’s appearances on the Sunday shows. He looks at these and says they’re essentially useless. And direct quote from his e-mail. He says, I would just as soon not use them. But it’s their call, meaning the White House’s call.
RADDATZ: And they got the talking points out there.
It’s a cliché, of course, but it really is true: in Washington, every scandal has a crime and a coverup. The ongoing debate about the attack on the United States facility in Benghazi where four Americans were killed, and the Obama Administration’s response to it, is no exception. For a long time, it seemed like the idea of a coverup was just a Republican obsession. But now there is something to it...the mere existence of the edits—whatever the motivation for them—seriously undermines the White House’s credibility on this issue. This past November (after Election Day), White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.” Remarkably, Carney is sticking with that line even now...This is an incredible thing for Carney to be saying.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
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