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EDITORIAL: Emails strongly suggest Benghazi obfuscation, need for investigation

To many on the left, the word “Benghazi” has become a punchline, and the Republicans’ continued investigation into the deadly events there has become a joke. In the wake of the September 2012 attack, the Obama administration made a concerted effort to convince the American public that the incident was not the result of a failure of policy, but rather that it had occurred spontaneously in response to an anti-Muslim Internet video.

This explanation was good enough for anyone who thinks anything President Barack Obama says is good enough. The explanation should not have been good enough, however, for anyone who values the truth — truth that could (and should) jeopardize then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s current quest for the White House.

The attack on the Benghazi consulate — which resulted in the deaths of four U.S. diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens — began shortly before 4 p.m. on September 11, 2012. By 10 p.m. that evening, Secretary Clinton took the lead in promoting the Obama administration lie that the attack was “a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.” Damning State Department documents recently released by Judicial Watch outline clear coordination between the State Department and the White House to blame the incident on the Internet video, rather than any failures by the State Department or the White House.

An email sent at 6:21 p.m. that evening by a State Department spokesperson and Secretary Clinton’s personal aide shows that the State Department deferred to the White House on the official response to the attack. Secretary Clinton’s pending “inflammatory material” statement was approved by the White House, and another email sent at 9:48 p.m. by then-White House deputy strategic communications adviser Ben Rhodes to senior White House and State officials on the issue suggested that they “should let” Secretary Clinton’s statement “be our comment for the night.” The next day, National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan sent an email to Obama administration officials informing them that Mr. Rhodes would be hosting a conference call that day “to ensure we are all in sync on messaging for the rest of the day.”

Another document, from September 13, outlines how the Obama administration reached out to domestic groups, foreign groups and governments to link the video to the attack. Another document from that day shows that Politico’s Mike Allen sent then-National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor an Independent.co.uk news article entitled, “America was warned of embassy attack but did nothing.” Mr. Vietor forwarded the story to other top White House and State Department officials, but his accompanying comments, as well as the comments of other top Obama appointees, are completely redacted.

These and other damning documents preceded an email sent by Mr. Rhodes on September 14 — and previously obtained by Judicial Watch — that discusses a “prep call” with Ambassador Susan Rice prior to her appearances on the Sunday news shows, during which she deflected criticism of the administration’s security failures and blamed the attack on spontaneous protests ignited by the video.

Presidential candidate Clinton wants Americans to believe that she is strong on foreign policy. According to her campaign website, she “was instrumental in starting to restore America’s standing in the world” after President George W. Bush left office. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that during one of the most crucial foreign policy moments of her time as secretary, she could not be trusted. (We haven’t even mentioned her missing emails.)

We still don’t have answers about why the Benghazi consulate was so vulnerable, why we didn’t try to better protect those who died, and why we didn’t try to save them as events escalated that evening. And if the House of Representatives doesn’t keep investigating the incidents, we never will have the answers.

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