Amid reports that former State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland was nominated by President Obama to a higher post, Fox News immediately engaged its smear machine to launch a false attack on her, claiming she had misled Congress and the American people about terrorist groups possibly involved in the attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya.
Politico reported on May 23 that Nuland, who had been "involved in the editing of the administration's talking points on Benghazi," was nominated by Obama to be the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, a position that requires Senate confirmation. Politico also reported the nomination "could come under scrutiny from Republicans" for her input on the administration's unclassified talking points on the terrorist attack in Benghazi.
Fox News jumped on the news to smear Nuland and continue its long-running attempt to promote Benghazi as a devastating scandal. On May 24, Fox's early morning show Fox & Friends First said that Nuland is "accused" by unnamed people of "misleading Congress and Americans." Co-host Patti Ann Browne continued:
BROWNE: The State Department spokesperson who played a key role in editing the talking points on the Benghazi terror attack is getting a promotion. President Obama has nominated Victoria Nuland as Assistant Secretary of State for Europe. She's accused of misleading Congress and Americans by downplaying the role terrorists played in that attack. This comes as the investigation deepens; several lawmakers are pushing to interview 13 top State Department officials, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
On Fox & Friends, guest co-host Anna Kooiman suggested that Nuland was "being promoted for politics," and asked, "where's the accountability?" The following graphic aired during the segment:
But recently released administration emails which document the process of drafting the Benghazi talking points show that it's Fox News that is being misleading.
In an email to administration officials and the intelligence community following the Benghazi attack, Nuland expressed concern that revealing in the talking points the names of terrorist organizations suspected of being involved in the attack would jeopardize a criminal investigation:
On that basis, I have serious concerns about all the parts highlighted below, and arming members of Congress to start making assertions to the media that we ourselves are not making because we don't want to prejudice the investigation.
In that same vein, why do we want Hill to be fingering Ansar al Sharia, when we aren't going that ourselves until we have investigation results... and the penultimate point could be abused by Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings so why we want to feed that either? Concerned...
Additionally, another email shows that the CIA's general counsel wrote that naming specific terrorist groups could "conflict with express instructions from NSS/DOJ/FBI that, in light of the criminal investigation, we are not to generate statements with assessments as to who did this."
And The New York Times reported in November that former CIA Director David Petraeus told lawmakers in congressional testimony that the names of terrorist organizations suspected of participating in the attacks "were removed from the public explanation of the attack immediately after the assault to avoiding alerting the militants that American intelligence and law enforcement agencies were tracking them."