White House e-mails on Benghazi stoke more questions

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The White House should "come clean" and release all of its e-mails related to the crafting of former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice's message on the Benghazi attack, including ones redacted for supposed national security purposes, says the GOP.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, a member of a House committee investigating the attack, made the demand a day after the release of an e-mail showing that White House aide Ben Rhodes wanted to blame the 2012 assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on a protest that never happened there.
Referring to Benghazi and Middle East unrest, he said that she should "underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy."
Chaffetz told USA TODAY that the White House has turned over e-mails with much of the content blocked out.
"There were other e-mails that went to Susan Rice. We got them with heavy redactions," Chaffetz told USA TODAY. "The White House needs to come clean on what they said."
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday that Rhodes' e-mail had been misconstrued because it was referring to protests happening across the Muslim world at the time.
"The e-mail and the talking points were not about Benghazi. They were about the general situation in the Muslim world," Carney said.
But the White House had provided the emails to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform based on a request for communications on Benghazi. And portions on Rhodes' email that were blocked out pertained to Benghazi.
The emails came to light only after a watchdog group sued for the unblocked emails under a Freedom of Information Request.
Carney's claim is "laughable," Chaffetz said. "Susan Rice was asked about Benghazi and she repeated exactly what Ben Rhodes wanted her to say."
Susan Rice used her TV appearances to deny that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist plot and to blame it on a non-existent protest that turned violent. U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three State Department employees were killed in the attack, which the White House later acknowledged was a planned terrorist attack and not preceded by a protest.
Republican lawmakers have accused the White House of seeking to minimize the role of terrorism in the attack while President Obama was seeking re-election and claiming that al-Qaeda was in retreat.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the latest revelations show the need for a joint Senate-House committee to investigate the administration's handling of Benghazi, similar to ones that investigated Watergate and the Iran-contra affair during the Nixon and Reagan administrations.
But congressional leaders in the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate have refused to sign on to that idea.
The latest batch of e-mails are significant because although Rice repeated inaccurate information about the attack that was provided by CIA analysts, "the White House has long claimed it was not a participant in the crafting of the talking points," Chaffetz said. "That's the revelation in this e-mail. They were involved."
House Democrats, such as Elijiah Cummings of Maryland, have denounced the requests as an attempt to politicize a tragedy. White House and State Department officials have said for months they've provided thousands of documents and spent hundreds of hours testifying in private and in open hearings before Congress about Benghazi.
Chaffetz said his committee received 3,200 additional pages of new documents in the past 30 days — evidence, he said, that the White has not been forthcoming.
Also on Wednesday, the State Department announced that global terrorism rose more than 40% in 2013 compared with the previous year, much of it due to al-Qaeda and its affiliates, the Associated Press reported.
The State Department's "Country Reports on Terrorism 2013" identified a 43% increase in the number of terrorist attacks in 2013 from 2012, according to statistics provided by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.
It counted 9,707 terrorist attacks around the world in 2013, resulting in more than 17,800 deaths and more than 32,500 injuries. Most of those occurred in Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, Syria, Thailand and Yemen.
"Al-Qaeda and its affiliates and adherents worldwide continue to present a serious threat to the United States, our allies, and our interests," the State report said. "While the international community has severely degraded AQ's core leadership, the terrorist threat has evolved."
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