Here's your comprehensive guide to the politics of "Benghazi," the September 2012 terrorist attack in Libya that claimed four American lives.
White House secrecy, deception, and a politics-first obsession shielded President Obama from fallout during the 2012 reelection campaign. The tactics eventually backfired to keep the scandal alive.
A State Department email, belatedly made public last week under court order, proves beyond reasonable doubt that the White House communications team was more interested in covering Obama's butt than sharing accurate information with the public. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes wrote that one "goal" for U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice's television interviews shortly after the attack was to "underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy." Another stated "goal" was to "reinforce the President and Administration's strength." The protests were not rooted in an Internet video, a fact the White House acknowledged only belatedly, reluctantly, and under fire.
The White House's explanation for withholding the email from Congress was laughable. Press secretary Jay Carney claimed that an email released under court order for Benghazi-related documents was not about Benghazi. You don't need to be a right-wing conspiracy nut to recognize that White House obfuscation gave the scandal its legs. "It is also impolite — but necessary — to point out that Carney and his colleagues' opacity made their Benghazi problem worse," wrote Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.