If you haven’t been following the Stephen Hayes reporting at the Weekly Standard, then you might have missed something about the Benghazi story. I do not think he can have missed much. His coverage really really has been wonderful. Today you can access his “What About the Video? The Benghazi email dump leaves some big questions unanswered” that will be out in the next paper issue.
From the beginning, there have been two big questions about the administration’s deceptive spin on Benghazi: How were the talking points whittled down to virtually nothing from the CIA’s original draft? And how did a previously obscure YouTube video gain such prominence in the administration’s explanation of what happened in Benghazi?…. The emails make clear that many of the deliberations about changing the talking points—phone calls, teleconferences, and discussions—were not recorded. But a picture nonetheless emerges of officials keenly interested to avoid blame, protect their bureaucracies, and settle on a message that all could live with….
The agency’s attempts at CYA had given Obama officials an opening, and they quickly took it. On these thin strands, the Obama administration built its explanation for Benghazi. There had been a demonstration in Cairo. The leaders of that protest used a YouTube video to incite a mob. A Benghazi attacker had seen the Cairo protest. He later participated in the attack in Benghazi….
Despite the centrality of the YouTube video to the administration’s public discussion of Benghazi, it goes virtually unmentioned in the nearly 100 pages of emails between the nation’s top intelligence and Obama administration officials as they reshaped the talking points provided by the CIA. The film trailer is included as part of a list on the first page of the documents and again at the very end, in the subject line about a meeting of high-ranking officials on Saturday morning: “SVTS [Secure Video Teleconferencing System] on Movie Protests/Violence.”
So, were Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and President Obama confused? It is hard to see who confused them. The released emails show there was plenty of communication between the White House and the State Department. The problem for them all was how to play the story so everyone involved would be covered and all of the “deciders” obscured. That’s still happening.
I just have here what seemed like highlights to me. You should read the whole thing.