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With security tight, Iraqis cast votes in unaccustomed peace

BAGHDAD — Millions of Iraqis voted for a new Parliament on Wednesday, defying threats from Islamist extremists, in an election that was carried out, by Iraq’s brutal standards, in remarkable peace.

After a surge in violence leading up to the vote, and threats by a Sunni extremist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, to strike polling sites, no attacks were reported in Baghdad, and none with any large numbers of casualties were reported elsewhere in the country.

The election, the first nationwide vote since the departure of U.S. troops more than two years ago, was seen as a referendum on Nouri al-Maliki’s eight years as prime minister as he seeks a third term amid a growing Sunni insurgency that has brought the country to the edge of a new civil war. But with results pending, the story Wednesday was simply that the election was held at all, and that so few people were killed.

—Tim Arango and Duraid Adnan, The New York Times

Email suggests White House strategy on Benghazi

WASHINGTON — A newly released email shows that White House officials sought to shape the way Susan E. Rice, then the ambassador to the United Nations, discussed the Middle East chaos that was the context for the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.

The email dated Sept. 14, 2012, from Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, to Rice was obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request. The subject of the email was: “PREP CALL with Susan.”

That email was sent ahead of Rice’s appearance on several Sunday morning news talk programs three days after the attacks that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including J. Christopher Stevens, the ambassador to Libya.

The email from Rhodes includes goals for Rice’s appearances on the shows and advice on how to discuss the subject of the protests that were raging in Libya and at other U.S. diplomatic posts in the Middle East.

Among the goals that Rhodes identified: “To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.” In a section called “Top-lines,” Rhodes added: “Since we began to see protests in response to this Internet video,

Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, dismissed the new email as irrelevant, saying that the subject of the advice from Rhodes in the email was not about Benghazi but rather about the protests that were taking place across the Middle East at the time.

—Michael D. Shear, The New York Times