Cantor: White House 'misled' on Benghazi

Greg Nash

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Wednesday accused the Obama administration of having "misled Congress, the media and most importantly, the American people" over the terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.

"It is increasingly clear that this administration orchestrated an effort to deflect attention away from their failed Libya policy and the resurgence of al Qaeda and other terrorists," Cantor said in a statement.

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The Virginia lawmaker's comments came after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch led to the release of an cache of emails from the State Department. One email showed White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes outlining "goals" for then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's appearances on a series of Sunday talk shows.

Rhodes said Rice should underscore that protests in the Middle East were "rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy."

Republicans have seized on that revelation to argue that it was the White House that told Rice to suggest the violence in Benghazi grew spontaneously out of protests over an anti-Islam YouTube video. The administration later said intelligence indicated the Benghazi attack was deliberate and organized, and critics have argued that Rice's comments were intended to politically insulate the president ahead of the election.

"The emails provide additional evidence that senior officials knew the attack on our mission in Benghazi was a complex attack and not a spontaneous reaction to a YouTube video," Cantor said.

"Some may say, what difference at this point does it make?" he continued. "Well, four brave Americans were killed in Benghazi and to date it appears that more has been done to protect internal emails than to bring the murderers of these Americans to justice."

At the White House on Wednesday, press secretary Jay Carney said the Rhodes email was not specific to that Sept. 11, 2012, attack.

"It was explicitly not about Benghazi," Carney said. "It was about the overall situation in the region, the Muslim world, where you saw protests outside of embassy facilities across the region, including in Cairo, Sanaa, Khartoum and Tunis. And the so-called talking points around Benghazi, as you know because it's been substantially reported on, were prepared by the CIA."

Carney went on to say that the email was merely evidence the White House was preparing Rice to discuss "the overall issue of unrest in the Muslim world."

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