Sharyl Attkisson Rejects White House Talking Points Over New Benghazi Revelations

Former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson spoke to WMAL’s Brian Wilson and Larry O’Connor on their Mornings on the Mall radio show on Thursday, May 1 and had some strong words surrounding the latest revelations surrounding the Benghazi terrorist attack. Earlier this week, emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request showed that the Obama Administration had instructed Susan Rice to use talking points that an anti-Muslim video sparked the terrorist attack and that it was not a reflection of President Obama’s foreign policy. 

Attkisson argued that “In the end, this is all the Obama Administration. I mean to me, it matters to some degree I guess who exactly did what. But the point is we now know the Obama Administration officials in whatever agencies at the White House were responsible for creating this narrative that was incorrect for whatever reason.” [Click here to listen to the entire interview.] 

The former CBS reporter noted that there’s still a lot we don’t know: 

So, who is at the meeting, how is it discussed, and how is this disseminated not only to Susan Rice, but as you know, other administration officials used the same narrative almost word for word in some cases. So one would have to believe that there was a meeting and a distribution of this narrative to others. I’m not sure Ben Rhodes is the you know the end game. He’s someone who distributed the message but there may have been, and I would say likely were others in the White House involved in coming up with this idea.

After co-host Brian Wilson played a clip of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney attempting to spin the email as not related to Benghazi, Attkisson shot back “It doesn’t matter too much what Jay Carney says. The fact is, that argument or the information from the memo was used by so many administration officials it had to have been about Benghazi of course because they used it when discussing Benghazi so I think whatever he was trying to say, I’m not even sure what he was trying to say, it was very confusing.”

Later on, Attkisson shot down the White House’s claim that it was simply relying on intelligence given to them by the CIA: 

The point is we now know the Obama Administration officials in whatever agencies at the White House were responsible for creating this narrative that was incorrect for whatever reason. And I think king of nitpicking over which agency kind of takes us down the rabbit hole on purpose on their part is sort of a strategy. But the CIA did not say these things in their original talking points. They did not say there was a spontaneous protest, quite the opposite. 

They had a lot of other information in their original talking points that was removed, such as references to prior warnings that the CIA had provided, that there could be dangers in this region and specifically Benghazi terrorist threats. So I don’t think this was from the CIA. 

See a portion of the full interview below. 


WMAL

Mornings on the Mall

May 1, 2014 

BRIAN WILSON: Joined on the line now by Sharyl Attkisson investigative journalist, author of an upcoming book called “Stonewalled.” Will be coming out soon I imagine. Also, if you want to learn more about what Sharyl’s up to you should go to her website SharylAttkisson.com. Sharyl thanks for joining us. 

SHARYL ATTKISSON: Thanks for having me. 

WILSON: I want to ask you about this Benghazi document because you know look I want to gice a quick summation and I really want to get your take on it. This is the afternoon before Susan Rice goes on national TV and makes the case that what happened in Benghazi was somehow connected to this internet video and protest that spiraled out of control, things we know now not to be true. It was written by a guy named Ben Rhodes, and in this memo which was literally hours before she went out and did these appearances she listed some of the goals. And one of the goals was to underscore that these protests are rooted in an internet video and not a broader failure of policy. Those who’ve looked at the documents say it reads more like a political document than a national security document. And many people have said this document is the smoking gun, that the administration set out to mislead the American people. Now you’ve followed this story very closely. As you look at that document, how do you read it? 

ATTKISSON: Well, here’s the missing part or I guess the questions that I still have after they still haven’t turned over many of the documents and information. Ben Rhodes may or may not have written that actual part of the memo that he emailed around. There may have been, and I would assume just based on experience, there was some sort of meeting at which these items were discussed so these points could be made. So, who is at the meeting, how is it discussed, and how is this disseminated not only to Susan Rice, but as you know, other administration officials used the same narrative almost word for word in some cases. So one would have to believe that there was a meeting and a distribution of this narrative to others. I’m not sure Ben Rhodes is the you know the end game. He’s someone who distributed the message but there may have been, and I would say likely were others in the White House involved in coming up with this idea.

WILSON: Alright, now when the White House was asked about this document they said this didn’t have anything to do with Benghazi. This was about protests in the region and they were pretty sharply questioned on this by Jonathan Karl. And here’s what Jay Carney had to say.

JAY 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. 

WILSON: Alright, so do you buy that argument? 

ATTKISSON: Well, it doesn’t matter too much what Jay Carney says. The fact is, that argument or the information from the memo was used by so many administration officials it had to have been about Benghazi of course because they used it when discussing Benghazi so I think whatever he was trying to say, I’m not even sure what he was trying to say, it was very confusing.

LARRY OCONNOR: Sharyl Attkisson, some reporters have looked at this, it’s like a Rorschach test how you look at this, these emails and what they say to you. And many reporters around town have said this is nothing new all Rhodes is doing here is encapsulating the talking points that the CIA gave them. The CIA is still the origin of this and they’re just putting it in a summary form. Is it still standing firm this whole putting it back in the CIA’s lap? 

ATTKISSON: Let’s take a big picture look at this because this happened a lot during Fast and Furious as well where one federal agency kind of blamed the other and they tried to sort of keep the White House out of it. In the end, this is all the Obama Administration. I mean to me, it matters to some degree I guess who exactly did what. But the point is we now know the Obama Administration officials in whatever agencies at the White House were responsible for creating this narrative that was incorrect for whatever reason. And I think king of nitpicking over which agency kind of takes us down the rabbit hole on purpose on their part is sort of a strategy. But the CIA did not say these things in their original talking points. They did not say there was a spontaneous protest, quite the opposite. They had a lot of other information in their original talking points that was removed, such as references to prior warnings that the CIA had provided, that there could be dangers in this region and specifically Benghazi terrorist threats. So I don’t think this was from the CIA. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.