It was the political version of "These are not the droids you are looking for."
ABC News' Jonathan Karl went after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Wednesday about the Benghazi emails indicating a political basis for the Administration's response that were released by Judicial Watch the day before.
Despite the text of the email, Carney tried to get away with saying the letter was not about Benghazi, saying,“It was explicitly not about Benghazi. It was about the overall situation in the region, the Muslim world, where you saw protests across embassy facilities across the region.”
Karl aggressively questioned Carney about the week leading up to Susan Rice's post Benghazi appearance on the Sunday news shows where she blamed the attack on an anti-Muslim You Tube video. Carney tried to respond with snark:
Karl: You just had an attack on a — (inaudible) — consulate in Benghazi. You had Americans killed. You knew full well that what Susan Rice was primarily going to be asked about was about that attack — a terrorist attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Carney: Can I read the promo from your show, ABC “This Week”?
Karl: You do acknowledge that these — (inaudible) — was going to be about the Benghazi attack?
Carney: Absolutely, about — Jon, absolutely. And she — and that’s why, as members of Congress did, Ambassador Rice relied on points about the Benghazi attack that were produced by the CIA.
Karl: So –
Carney: When — hold on. As American embassies throughout the region remain under fire — that’s ABC “This Week” promo. Again, we prepare Q-and-As for administration officials based on what we think they’re going to be asked. When I come out here –
The back and forth continued until Karl segued into the possible White House lies.
Karl: Ambassador Rice went on those shows, and she said that the attack in Benghazi was rooted in protests over an Internet video. We now know that that was not true, that, in fact, the CIA Director, Morell, just — former Director Morell just testified last month that quote, “when she talked about the video, my reaction was, that’s not something the analysts have attributed this attack to. It did not come from the CIA. You stood there at the podium time after time and said that she was referring to talking points created by the CIA. Now we see a document that comes from the White House, not from the CIA, attributing the protests to the video, and we have the former director of the CIA saying that that was not something that his analysts had attributed it to.
Carney: Jon, I would point you to what Mike Morell has said repeatedly in testimony about the creation of the talking points.
Karl: Well, now we have new talking points, and you didn’t release them — (inaudible) –
Carney: Let me finish, please. Jon, I answered that question. The fact of the matter is, there were protests in the region. The talking points cited protests at that facility. The connection between protests and video — and the video turned out not to be the case, but it was based on the best information that we had, and the fact that there were protests –
Karl: It was not based on what the CIA was saying, Jay.
Carney: Jon, I would point you to — I understand the –
Karl: This is what Morell said just last month, that when he heard that, he said that is not something our analysts have said. So that, now we see, came from the White House, right?
Carney: Jon — no, you’re wrong. If you look at that document, that document that we’re talking about today was about the overall environment in the Muslim world — the protests outside of Khartoum — the embassy in Khartoum, outside of the embassy in Tunis, the protests outside of the embassy in Cairo. These were big stories.
The memo Karl and Carney were discussing set the goals for Susan Rice's appearance on the Sunday programs. These goals seem to disagree with what Carney says about the memo.
Carney: I know that you and I are both in a different time zone right now, but we’re still in April of 2014, and this is a discussion about what she said and what turned out to be the case that we have had dozens of time in this room. And the fact of the matter is she went out there with the best information that we had at the time. The CIA deputy director has testified to that. The fact that there were protests around the region threatening our embassies at the very same time is something that is often forgotten but obviously affected the whole environment about how we perceived what was happening at the time. And again, the implication is that we were somehow holding back information, when in fact we were simply saying what we thought was right. And when elements of that turned out not to be true, we were the first people to say so. It was based on what we knew at the time.
Karl: Why were you holding back this information? Why was this email not turned over to the Congress? Why was it not released when you released all the other emails? This is directly relevant. Why did you hold this back? Why did it take a court case for you to release this — (inaudible) –
Carney: Jon, I can say it again and again, and I know you can keep asking again and again. This document was not about Benghazi.