What Fresh Hell Is This?

May 21, 2013

More Credibility Problems For Stephen Hayes

And, of course, his friends on the Tribune-Review Editorial Board.

Remember this?  It's my blogpost deconstructing this Trib editorial where the braintrust presents us with this:
The Weekly Standard's Stephen F. Hayes writes that emails sent during that process make it “clear that senior administration officials engaged in a wholesale rewriting of intelligence assessments about Benghazi in order to mislead the public.”
The world has since learned (with the White House release of the entire email chain) that Hayes got it wrong.

Wrong.  Stephen Hayes was wrong on Benghazi.

From Mediamatters:
The idea that [State Department spokeswoman Victoria] Nuland's overriding concern was political -- and that her concern was shared by the White House -- is key to the notion of a "cover-up" by the administration. Hayes' articles came to that assumption based on incomplete information and misrepresentation of emails between agencies.
But, just saying it isn't nearly enough - how do they support their assertion?  This is how:
In a follow-up article for the May 20 edition of The Weekly Standard, Hayes kept pushing the idea that Nuland's concern was solely political, and misrepresented an email to UN ambassador Susan Rice to make the argument that the talking points were edited to reflect that concern. The National Security Council Deputies Committee met on September 15 to work out the various agencies' issues with the Benghazi talking points, and a summary of that meeting was emailed to Rice.
And then MediaMatters show its work.  They start with how Hayes described that email:
The proceedings were summarized in an email to U.N. ambassador Rice shortly after the meeting ended. The subject line read: "SVTS on Movie/Protests/violence." The name of the sender is redacted, but whoever it was had an email address suggesting a job working for the United States at the United Nations.

According to the email, several officials in the meeting shared the concern of Nuland, who was not part of the deliberations, that the CIA's talking points might lead to criticism that the State Department had ignored the CIA's warning about an attack. Mike Morell, deputy director of the CIA, agreed to work with Jake Sullivan and Rhodes to edit the talking points. At the time, Sullivan was deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department's director of policy planning; he is now the top national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. Denis McDonough, then a top national security adviser to Obama and now his chief of staff, deferred on Rhodes's behalf to Sullivan. [Bolding in Mediamatters original]
And then they show what the email actually said:
HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] request: Late this week, CIA Director Petraeus gave the HPSCI a "hots [sic] spots" briefing and was asked for unclassified talking points that its members could use about the incident in Benghazi. (Apparently NCTC Director Matt Olson received a similar committee [sic] from a congressional committee.) The first draft apparently seemed unsuitable (based on conversations on the SVTS and afterwards) because they seemed to encourage the reader to infer incorrectly that the CIA had warned about a specific attack on our embassy. On SVTS, Morell noted that these points were not good and he had taken a heavy editing hand to them. He noted that he would be happy to work with Jake Sullivan and Rhodes to develop appropriate talking points. McDonough, on Rhodes's behalf, deferred to Sullivan. It was agreed that Jake would work closely with the intelligence community (within a small group) to finalize points on Saturday that could be shared with HPSCI. I spoke to Jake immediately after the SVTS and noted that you were doing the Sunday morning shows and would need to be aware of the final posture that these points took. He committed to ensure that we were updated in advance of the Sunday shows. I specifically mentioned [REDACTED] as the one coordinating your preparations for the shows and also strongly encouraged him to loop in [REDACTED] during the process. [Bolding in Mediamatters original]
And they point out what should be obvious:
It makes no mention of perceived criticism of the State Department.
And thus, Hayes got it wrong.  The "defend Clinton's State Department" part of Hayes' (and the rest of the right wing media's) "cover-up" argument dissolves completely.

And if Hayes got it wrong, then the braintrust got it wrong.

Will we be seeing a correction/clarification any time soon?

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