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White House Challenged on Benghazi Email

FILE - An exterior view shows the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a day after it was attacked and set on fire September 11, 2012.
The Obama administration is facing challenges from the opposition and the news media on its handling of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in which killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were killed.

At issue is a newly released email from 2012 that critics say bolsters their claim the administration tried to deflect blame for the incident by falsely saying the attack was triggered by a video that insulted Islam.

In that email, the administration lays out talking points that then-United Nations ambassador Susan Rice was to follow when she appeared on television news shows to explain the incident.

The email was written by White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes and said the administration's goal was to underscore that the protests taking place at various diplomatic posts at the time were rooted in the video.

Later, U.S. officials confirmed the attack at the consulate in Benghazi was the result of an organized terrorist plot.

In a heated exchange with reporters that extended from Wednesday to Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney accused the opposition of politicizing the Benghazi attack.

“This administration's focus since that event has been on pursuing those who did harm on Americans, who killed Americans and bringing them to justice and taking action to ensure that the failures in security that helped cause this or lead to this event were addressed and changed. What we have seen since hours after the attack beginning with a statement by the Republican nominee for president, is an attempt by Republicans to politicize a tragedy and that continues today, and yesterday," said Carney.

Administration officials say the email was discussing the wider incidents in which demonstrators held violent protests outside several U.S. diplomatic facilities in the region.

The administration released the email only after a lawsuit demanding the handover of all emails related to the Benghazi incident, fueling further criticism among those who accuse the administration of covering up or downplaying the attack.