White House Press Secretary Jay Carney sparred with reporters Wednesday in the White House briefing room over newly released emails from the Obama administration regarding the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
Carney, according to a Washington Post blog, argued primarily with Jonathan Karl of ABC News and maintained that the emails were not solely about Benghazi but about broader protests that were occurring in the region at the time.
"It is not about Benghazi -- it is about the protests around the Muslim world," Carney said during the exchange according to Fox News.
The attack left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens. It occurred two months before the presidential election and critics of the administration claim the new emails are proof that White House officials sought to protect President Obama by promoting false talking points about the reasons behind the incident.
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The White House claimed at the time the violence was the result of an internet video that was disparaging to the Islamic prophet Muhammad..
A separate Washington Post blog indicates that the White House promoted that message through a series emails that discussed a “prep call” with U.N. Amabassador Susan Rice. Deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes wrote in an email that Rice should “underscore these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy” as she appeared on popular Sunday morning talk shows just after the attack occurred.
The attack was later shown to be the product of a more a coordinated effort by groups with ties to al-Qaeda.
Republicans were quick to pounce on the emails that were just released as the the result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit from the watchdog group Judicial Watch.
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"If this is not a smoking gun, proving beyond any doubt, the story told by the administration about Benghazi was politically motivated and fabricated, nothing will ever prove that," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Republican Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia renewed his call for a select committee to investigate what he considers to be a political coverup.
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, he wrote, "it is now abundantly clear that senior White House staff were directly involved in coordinating the messaging in response to the Benghazi attacks and were actively working to tie the reason to the infamous Internet video."