In July, President Barack Obama dismissed Benghazi as among a group of "phony scandals." On Sunday night, National Security Adviser Susan Rice played a variation on that self-serving theme by branding Benghazi a "false controversy."

File both terms under Obama administration-delaying tactics aimed - with general success so far - at turning Benghazi into old news.

But the terrorist attack that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, at a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, still merits fuller re-examination.

So does Ms. Rice's role as a mouthpiece for White House distortions in the wake of the assault. She served either as a dupe or a willing participant in that disinformation process less than two months before the presidential election.

Five days after the terrorist attack, Ms. Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, appeared on five Sunday television news shows to give the administration's version of Benghazi events. She said at the time that the violence was the result of a "spontaneously" triggered protest against an anti-Muslim video.

That echoed accounts provided by the president and other members of his administration for up to two weeks after the attack.

However, the killings of American personnel in Benghazi came during a planned terror attack - not during a protest over an obscure video.

Ms. Rice, with "60 Minutes" interviewer Lesley Stahl acting as an all-too-trusting interviewer, again shifted the blame Sunday night, citing faulty intelligence as the sole source of that mistaken account.

Yes, the CIA did initially report that the Benghazi attack occurred "spontaneously" following protests about the video at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

Yet as congressional investigations discovered earlier this year, that CIA report also initially included this sentence: "We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qaida participated in the attack."

That crucial information was deleted at the request of State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland after she warned that it "could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up on the State Department for not paying attention to warnings."

But the State Department deserved harsh criticism for repeatedly ignoring alarms about the perils facing U.S. diplomatic personnel in Benghazi.

And "60 Minutes" viewers deserved more clarifying information about Ms. Rice's dubious dismissal of Benghazi as a "false controversy."

Meanwhile, this much is plainly true:

The State Department failed to heed those numerous warnings about growing dangers in Benghazi. The Obama administration failed to allow a military effort to rescue them once they were under attack. The White House stuck with its far-fetched story about protests over a video long after it was clearly false.

And the administration is still stonewalling and spinning on Benghazi.

"Phony scandal"?

"False controversy"?

More like a truly shameful failure of leadership - and a craven evasion of responsibility.