White House Lied About Editing Benghazi Talking Points
Posted 05/16/2013 07:28 PM ET
Scandal In Libya: A new email dump shows that the White House, contrary to public statements, was heavily involved in editing the Benghazi talking points to remove all references to it being a terrorist attack.
The limited, heavily redacted package of emails released by the administration Wednesday is noteworthy for what the emails don’t say and reflect a concerted effort by the White House and State Department not to get at the truth but to put something together to help President Obama in an election two months out.
The email package begins some 67 hours after the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi. It does not discuss the infamous YouTube video that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice would refer to in her Sept. 16 foray on five Sunday talk shows or that President Obama would refer to six times in a Sept. 26 speech before the United Nations.
The video is mentioned only briefly in the subject line of emails coming out of an important meeting where further revisions were made.
The emails do show that Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor were alerted that the intelligence community was drafting talking points that as late as 3:04 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, still included references to extremists tied to al-Qaida and an “attack.”
The terms “al-Qaida” and “attack” were stripped out by 4:42 p.m., and shortly afterward Vietor thanked colleagues for revisions and said they would be vetted “here,” as in the White House. He then forwarded “edits” from John Brennan, the current CIA chief who then was a White House counterterrorism adviser (see editorial upper left).
As we’ve written, in a White House meeting on Saturday morning, Sept. 15, the CIA, at the direction of the State Department and White House, drafted the final version of the talking points from which all references to al-Qaida and security warnings in Benghazi prior to the attack had been deleted. Ambassador Rice was now ready for her close-up.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland — “Toria” to her friends, as the emails reveal — represented the department in the negotiations over Benghazi. She was concerned that the public would get the impression the Obama administration was warned about the potential for violence in Benghazi.
Nuland , who insisted throughout the process that the State Department’s concerns be addressed, worried in one email that references to terrorist involvement “could be abused by members (of Congress) to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency (CIA) warnings, so why do we want to feed that either?”
“I’m with Toria,” Democratic operative David Adams chimed in at one point. “The last bullet (point) especially will read to members like we had been repeatedly warned.”
In fact, the State Department was warned numerous times, including by Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was murdered in the attack. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was told that night by Gregory Hicks, deputy chief of mission, that a terrorist attack, not a video protest, was under way.
The emails show that the FBI already concluded that al-Qaida (not just al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb) was involved. This information was kept from the American people as the administration claimed that eliminating such references was done to protect the FBI investigation.
That investigation was impeded, Hicks said, by Rice’s humiliation of the president of Libya on one talk show where he said Benghazi was a terrorist attack while she claimed it was provoked by the video.
So we have a collection of spokespersons and Democratic operatives conspiring with White House staff to edit talking points not to report how and why four Americans died but merely to make the Obama administration look good in the middle of a political campaign.
GOP not satisfied by Benghazi email release (news.yahoo.com)
Petraeus email objected to Benghazi talking points (timesofisrael.com)
GOP demands more despite Benghazi email release (cnsnews.com)
Report: Republicans were source of bogus Benghazi quotes (rawstory.com)
White House releases additional documents related to Benghazi response (firstread.nbcnews.com)
Newly Released Benghazi Emails Directly Contradict White House Claims (weeklystandard.com)
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