The most famous question of the Watergate hearings was arguably the one asked by the late Tennessee senator, Howard Baker, in reference to President Richard Nixon.
“What did the president know, and when did he know it?”
The same question has been asked about former President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in reference to the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans — what did they know and when did they know it?
Seems like we may finally learn the answer.
As announced by Judicial Watch on Friday, a U.S. District judge has ruled that the State Department must release Clinton emails reportedly containing details about Obama’s response to the attack:
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has ordered the U.S. Department of State to turn over to Judicial Watch “eight identical paragraphs” of previously redact material in two September 13, 2012, Hillary Clinton emails regarding phone calls made by President Barack Obama to Egyptian and Libyan leaders immediately following the terrorist attack. […]
Both emails had the subject line “Quick Summary of POTUS Calls to Presidents of Libya and Egypt” and were among the emails stored on Clinton’s unofficial email server.
While the revelation that Obama made immediate calls to Egyptian and Libyan leaders may not be a smoking gun in and of itself, what was said during those two calls could provide previously unknown critical information.
The judge rejected the government’s argument that the redacted material had been properly withheld:
“The two records, even if just barely predecisional, are not deliberative. [The State Department] has pointed to very little to support its characterization of these two records as deliberative, and the Court’s in camera review of the documents reveals that they do not fall within that category.”
According to Duhaim’s Law Dictionary:
A predecisional document is prepared in order to assist an agency decision-maker in arriving at a decision […] which reflects the personal opinions of the writer rather than the policy of the agency.
A deliberative document pertains to private and candid give-and-take of a consultative or policy development process by a public agency.
Judge Jackson’s ruling was handed down in response to a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, in which it sought:
All records related to notes, updates, or reports created in response to the September 11, 2012 attacks […] Libya. This request includes, but is not limited to notes taken by then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton or employees of the Office of the Secretary of State during the attack and its immediate aftermath.
What difference does it make?Alex Wong/Getty Images
The most famous Benghazi question came from an exasperated Clinton, during Senate testimony when she was asked why the Obama administration had continued to insist that the attack was the result of an obscure YouTube video.
“What difference at this point does it make?
Depending on the information in the complete emails requested by Judicial Watch, the answer to “What did Obama and Clinton know about the Benghazi attack, and when did they know it?” may ultimately prove exactly “what difference it makes.”