Attorney General Eric Holder used the phrase “I don’t know” or some variation, at least 57 times during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee today as House Republicans grilled him over controversies including the IRS’ targeting of Tea Partiers, the Justice Department’s seizure of journalist phone records, and the security lapses surrounding the Boston bombing.
As the nation’s top law enforcement official, Eric Holder is privy to all kinds of sensitive information. But he seems to be proud of how little he knows.
That was my thought exactly earlier today. Maybe now that Dana Milbank agrees with me it is magically no longer a racist thought.
On and on Holder went: “I don’t know. I don’t know. . . . I would not want to reveal what I know. . . . I don’t know why that didn’t happen. . . . I know nothing, so I’m not in a position really to answer.”
Holder seemed to regard this ignorance as a shield protecting him and the Justice Department from all criticism of the Obama administration’s assault on press freedoms. But his claim that his “recusal” from the case exempted him from all discussion of the matter didn’t fly with Republicans or Democrats on the committee, who justifiably saw his recusal as more of an abdication.
“There doesn’t seem to be any acceptance of responsibility in the Justice Department for things that have gone wrong,” said Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), after Holder placed the AP matter in the lap of his deputy. “We don’t know where the buck stops.”
WASHINGTON – State Department officials repeatedly objected to — and tried to water down — references to Al Qaeda and prior security warnings in the administration’s initial internal story-line on the Benghazi attack, according to dozens of emails and notes released by the White House late Wednesday.
The documents also showed the White House, along with several other departments, played a role in editing the so-called “talking points,” despite claims from the White House that it was barely involved. And they showed then-CIA Director David Petraeus objected to the watered-down version that would ultimately be used as the basis for U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s flawed comments on several TV shows the Sunday after the attack.
One email sent the night of the Friday after the attack from an unknown official said: “The State Department had major reservations with much or most of the document.” Individual emails leading up to that assessment show State officials repeatedly objecting to the intelligence community’s early version of events. The early versions stated that “Islamic extremists with ties to Al Qaeda” participated in the assault and discussed links to militant group Ansar al Sharia — and referenced prior attacks against western targets in Benghazi.
In response to her concerns, Assistant Secretary of State David S. Adams voiced agreement. He said the line about prior incidents “will read to members like we had been repeatedly warned.” ……
The documents describe how the administration developed “talking points” to describe what the administration wanted to discuss publicly immediately after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. [...]
“An email dated September 14 at 7:39PM, State Department Spokeswoman Victora Nuland wrote “Why do we want the Hill fingering Ansar al-Sharia when we aren’t doing that ourselves? And the penultimate point could be abused to beat the State Department for not paying attention to agency warnings.” At that point the emails indicate the references to Ansar al Sharia were removed.”
“But Nuland chimed in again “These don’t resolve all of my issues or those of my building’s leadership. they are consulting with NSS (National Security Council Staff).”
“One minute later Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff emails “ We’ll work this through in the morning. Get comments back.”
“Then Ben Rhodes, a top national security official warns the talking points shouldn’t jeopardize the investigation and tables the discussion for a White House meeting the next day, when it appears the decision was made to drop the reference to the terror group.”
When the levee breaks…
[You're] going down… going down now… going dowwwwn….
Hit it boys!
This video was posted on youtube the day after the Benghazi attack.
Via Sooper Mexican:
While Republicans try to get to the truth behind the ridiculous reaction the Obama administration had to the Benghazi attacks, and Democrats do their best to protect Obama from attacks, this video should remind us of why this issue is so important:
When it became clear last fall that the CIA’s now discredited Benghazi talking points were flawed, the White House said repeatedly the documents were put together almost entirely by the intelligence community, but White House documents reviewed by Congress suggest a different story.
ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.
White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.
State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland raised specific objections to this paragraph drafted by the CIA in its earlier versions of the talking points:
“The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”
In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned …”