Libya: At least a dozen rewrites of the Benghazi talking points were made, with all references to al-Qaida and prior attacks removed at the direction of the secretary of state’s office.
The astonishing thing about the administration’s Benghazi cover-up is that it actually thought it could get away with it. But each lie has been successfully peeled away, from the protest that never happened, to the irrelevant filmmaker who was blamed, to the intelligence community whose talking points were used as a cover for incompetence and malfeasance.
Now White House and State Department emails obtained by ABC News, some first published by the Weekly Standard, show that the intelligence community, led by the CIA, told the truth about terrorist involvement in the Benghazi attacks and prior warnings in its original talking points draft. It was the White House and the State Department that lied and had them altered.
“Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters last Nov. 28. “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”
What the talking points reflected, after a dozen heavy edits dictated by the State Department, was a sanitized version designed to protect President Obama’s re-election chances and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s prospective candidacy in 2016. They were deliberately altered to eliminate references to terrorism so the whole thing could be blamed on an inflammatory video and no one in the administration could be held responsible.
As ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported, edits included requests from the State Department that references to the al Qaida-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well as references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.
The original CIA talking points contained this paragraph: “The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qaida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including a June attack against the British ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals had previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”
In an email to White House officials and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information, saying it “could be abused by members (of Congress) to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?” The paragraph was entirely deleted.