Three weeks ago a mini scandal erupted, when the State Department was accused of purposefully altering a briefing video to remove a portion of a discussion about the Iran nuclear talks. The missing clip involved then spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who was asked in 2013 whether officials ever lie to the public to protect national security interests. Psaki indirectly confirmed that this happens. "James, I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that," Psaki replied to Fox News reporter James Rosen. Or, as Jean-Claude Juncker would openly admit, "when it gets serious, you have to lie."
When it was revealed that the video had been edited to remove those comments, the State Department quickly restored the entire video, and blamed the missing video on a "glitch."
Well, as market participants know too well, any time a "glitch" is used as an excuse, it is to protect one or more guilty parties who have enough power and/or money to blame their action on a technical error, usually in the passive voice.
This is what happened this time as well.
As Reuters reports, a portion of said briefing video that was archived online was deliberately deleted at the request of an unknown person, possibly the day the video was made, spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday after an investigation. As noted above, "the deleted video segment dealt with whether a State Department spokeswoman had misled reporters at an earlier briefing about whether U.S. and Iranian officials had directly discussed the Iran nuclear deal."
Only while one lie was confirmed, another quickly took its place when Kirby said the office of the legal adviser "learned that a specific request was made to excise that portion of the briefing. We do not know who made the request to edit the video or why it was made." Instead, Kirby insisted that the person who made the edit only remembers that he or she got a call from someone at the State Department, who was passing on a request from the departments' Public Affairs Bureau. But he said the person who received the call didn't remember who the caller was, and doesn't know who in that bureau made the request.
We have some ideas.
Kirby said the video had been replaced some time ago with a full version that was archived with the Defense Department. He said the transcript of the briefing had always been available online and had not been modified. He said it was unclear why the video had been edited. "There were no rules in place at the time to govern this sort of action, so while I believe it was an inappropriate step to take, I see little foundation for pressing forward with a formal investigation," he said.
In other words, Kirby said that while it was wrong to edit the video, there's no basis for investigating the issue further.
And just like Hillary's email, er, problems, the only solution to the problem is that measures will be taken. Quote Kirby: "To my surprise the Bureau of Public Affairs did not have in place any rules governing this type of action. Therefore, we are taking immediate steps to craft appropriate protocols on this issue as we believe that deliberately removing a portion of the video was not and is not in keeping with the State Department's commitment to transparency and public accountability," he added.
He said it with a straight face.