White House behind alteration of Benghazi talking points: Report

Answer to Hillary Clinton as to why it matters: You and the president lied.

Eli Lake:

The story begins on Friday, September 14, when then-CIA director David Petraeus briefed the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence about the Benghazi attack three days earlier. The CIA's notes for that briefing included information about five previous attacks on foreign interests in Benghazi since April 2012; potential links to the al Qaeda connected Libyan militia, Ansar al-Sharia; previous CIA assessments of groups linked to al Qaeda in eastern Libya; and information suggesting Islamic extremists participated in the attack, according to the report.

But then the editing process began later that day on September 14, "[w]hen draft talking points were sent to officials throughout the Executive Branch, [and] senior State Department officials requested the talking points be changed to avoid criticism for ignoring the threat environment in Benghazi," the report charges. The report quotes one email saying there was concern that members of Congress would attack the State Department for "not paying attention to Agency warnings" regarding the mounting threat in Benghazi.

A meeting convened by the White House on Saturday suggested further edits to the talking points, according to the report. While a senior CIA official eventually changed the talking points, the report says those changes were made at the behest of the White House and the State Department. "Those edits struck any and all suggestions that the State Department had been previously warned of threats in the region, that there had been previous attacks in Benghazi by al-Qaeda-linked groups in Benghazi and eastern Libya, and that extremists linked to al-Qaeda may have participated in the attack on the Benghazi Mission," according to the report.

On Sunday the new talking points were provided to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, who based her comments about the attack on major Sunday news shows on September 16 on the newly edited talking points. Rice ended up suggesting that the lethal assault on the Benghazi compound was spurred by a demonstration against an anti-Muslim Internet video. The State Department's own accountability review board eventually acknowledged last year that there was no demonstration the night the Benghazi compound was raided and set ablaze.

Democrats are dismissing the "partisan report" and the White House claims that they were forthcoming in trying to satisfy Republican investigators.

But the inescapable conclusion is that the talking points were altered for political reasons and that the White House sought to protect Hillary Clinton who refused to beef up security at the diplomatic mission in Beghazi despite numerous warnings:

Administration officials have told Congress and said publicly that one reason the talking points were changed was to protect classified information. The Republican report, however, said there was no evidence to support that charge. "There were no concerns about protecting classified information in the email traffic," the report said.

The report also notes that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an April 19, 2012 cable offering a plan to scale back security assets for the U.S. missions in Libya, including Benghazi.

While the report is damning, it's release while interest in the Boston bombings is still intense guarantees it won't see much coverage in the press. Even without the competition with the bombing story, it isn't likely that the report would garner many headlines. The fact is, the White House and President Obama have successfully stonewalled the truth about Benghazi and despite ample proof that they lied, no one in the media seems very interested in calling them out for it.


Answer to Hillary Clinton as to why it matters: You and the president lied.

Eli Lake:

The story begins on Friday, September 14, when then-CIA director David Petraeus briefed the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence about the Benghazi attack three days earlier. The CIA's notes for that briefing included information about five previous attacks on foreign interests in Benghazi since April 2012; potential links to the al Qaeda connected Libyan militia, Ansar al-Sharia; previous CIA assessments of groups linked to al Qaeda in eastern Libya; and information suggesting Islamic extremists participated in the attack, according to the report.

But then the editing process began later that day on September 14, "[w]hen draft talking points were sent to officials throughout the Executive Branch, [and] senior State Department officials requested the talking points be changed to avoid criticism for ignoring the threat environment in Benghazi," the report charges. The report quotes one email saying there was concern that members of Congress would attack the State Department for "not paying attention to Agency warnings" regarding the mounting threat in Benghazi.

A meeting convened by the White House on Saturday suggested further edits to the talking points, according to the report. While a senior CIA official eventually changed the talking points, the report says those changes were made at the behest of the White House and the State Department. "Those edits struck any and all suggestions that the State Department had been previously warned of threats in the region, that there had been previous attacks in Benghazi by al-Qaeda-linked groups in Benghazi and eastern Libya, and that extremists linked to al-Qaeda may have participated in the attack on the Benghazi Mission," according to the report.

On Sunday the new talking points were provided to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, who based her comments about the attack on major Sunday news shows on September 16 on the newly edited talking points. Rice ended up suggesting that the lethal assault on the Benghazi compound was spurred by a demonstration against an anti-Muslim Internet video. The State Department's own accountability review board eventually acknowledged last year that there was no demonstration the night the Benghazi compound was raided and set ablaze.

Democrats are dismissing the "partisan report" and the White House claims that they were forthcoming in trying to satisfy Republican investigators.

But the inescapable conclusion is that the talking points were altered for political reasons and that the White House sought to protect Hillary Clinton who refused to beef up security at the diplomatic mission in Beghazi despite numerous warnings:

Administration officials have told Congress and said publicly that one reason the talking points were changed was to protect classified information. The Republican report, however, said there was no evidence to support that charge. "There were no concerns about protecting classified information in the email traffic," the report said.

The report also notes that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an April 19, 2012 cable offering a plan to scale back security assets for the U.S. missions in Libya, including Benghazi.

While the report is damning, it's release while interest in the Boston bombings is still intense guarantees it won't see much coverage in the press. Even without the competition with the bombing story, it isn't likely that the report would garner many headlines. The fact is, the White House and President Obama have successfully stonewalled the truth about Benghazi and despite ample proof that they lied, no one in the media seems very interested in calling them out for it.


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