Dick Morris: Whose talking points?

Dick Morris: Whose talking points?
© Greg Nash

How did Obama aide Ben Rhodes get the language for the talking points he prepared for Susan Rice condemning the anti-Muslim Internet video that purportedly triggered “spontaneous” demonstrations leading to the attack on Benghazi?

What’s interesting is that the words he sent out about the video were identical to those used by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDOJ backs ex-Trump campaign aide Rick Gates's probation request The media have fallen out of love with Bernie, but have voters? Trump request for Ukrainian 'favor' tops notable quote list MORE almost two days earlier. And we know that both of them knew then that there was no demonstration whatsoever in Benghazi. So why did they put out this fake story, and how did they coordinate their fabricated message?


Let’s rule out a coincidence. That leaves only two possibilities: Either the White House sent the script to Clinton, or Clinton sent it to the White House.

In either scenario, it’s likely there would have been emails conveying the material and fine-tuning of the tale before the Rhodes email. Yet, none of the documents provided to either the Government Oversight Committee or Judicial Watch include any emails transmitting that language between the time of the attack on Sept. 11, 2012, and Rhodes’s email at 8:09 p.m. on Sept. 14.

So how did he get the information? The record shows Clinton had already used the same text that Rhodes used 36 hours later. So, how did Rhodes pick up Clinton’s words? By reading the newspaper?

Or was the wording passed along in a document that somehow didn’t make it into the troves provided to Congress?

Here’s what they said: On Sept. 13, 2012, Clinton’s statement included these passages:

“Let me state very clearly … that the United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message. … This video is disgusting and reprehensible. … There is no justification, none at all, for responding to this video with violence.”

Here are Rhodes’s comments from the email:

“[W]e’ve made our views on this video crystal clear. The United States government had nothing to do with it. We reject its message and its content. We find it disgusting and reprehensible. But there is absolutely no justification at all for responding to this movie with violence.”

Compare them line by line. They’re not just similar, they’re the same. 

Clinton might ask, “What difference does it make?” 

Well, quite a lot. At the very least, it might explain who concocted this deceitful storyline in the first place. Clinton’s initial claims about the video, mirrored in Rhodes’s later email, raise the possibility that she was the originator of both the words and the concept of using the video to explain the attack. Remember, shortly after speaking to the president, Clinton was the first public official to draw the baseless inference that the video provoked the attack.

So, why would Clinton and President Obama want to promote this phony propaganda? For Obama, it was to maintain the fiction that al Qaeda was still “on the run” after the killing of Osama bin Laden. A terrorist attack just weeks before the election would have undermined his campaign’s flattering narrative as the dragon slayer who had eliminated our biggest security threat. For Clinton, it was to deflect criticism of the State Department’s inadequate security in Benghazi that left the compound vulnerable and led to the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

If the attack was seen as a spontaneous demonstration that erupted into unplanned violence, neither Obama nor Clinton would look so bad. And the Clinton-Obama policy failures in the Middle East would not be an issue.

Perhaps they were both also concerned that the real Benghazi mission, as described by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, might lead to an unwanted investigation: “The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms. It had no real political role.”

So the question remains: How and why did Clinton’s words make it into Rhodes’s email?

Morris, a former adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Clinton, is the author of 16 books, including his latest, Screwed and Here Come the Black Helicopters. To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email, go to dickmorris.com.