The release is supposed to "prove" that politics were never a factor in developing the talking points. Taken all together, they are still fairly damning And despite the selective nature of their release, the impression is still left that the State Department wanted to cover its behind when it came to warnings about security.
Is that political? When one considers that any notion that the State Department failed to act on warnings would reflect badly on Hillary Clinton and her plans to run for president in 2016, you can't get much more political than that.
A final CIA addition to the talking points was a warning about the security situation at the time of the armed assault. But that warning was eventually removed.
Senior administration officials say that long before the CIA heard concerns from the State Department about warnings being put in the talking points,
CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell advocated for removing the warnings out, since he felt the talking points should focus on what happened in Benghazi on September 11, rather than the previous six months.
He also felt it was unprofessional and unfair for the CIA to cite its own warnings to the State Department, officials said.
Victoria Nuland, then the State Department spokeswoman, had raised concerns over the CIA's first version, saying that they went further than what she was allowed to say about the attack during her briefings.
She also questioned information about CIA warnings of extremist threats linked to al Qaeda in Benghazi and eastern Libya, saying "the penultimate point could be abused by members (of Congress) to beat the State Department for not paying attention to agency warnings so why do we want to feed that either? Concerned..."
Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee which is investigating the matter, told CNN's "Situtation Room" that his staff wants to digest the e-mails. He stressed that they were a selected set of documents as released and the committee is still seeking a range of other information.
John Hinderaker asks "Where was Hillary Clinton" when this back and forth about the talking points was going on?
In Congress, "they all think it was premeditated," so we need to "correct the record." In fact, though, it was premeditated, as everyone now knows. Furthermore, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was already well aware, based on her famous 2 a.m. conversation with Greg Hicks, that the attack was premeditated; that there was no demonstration; that armed terrorists assaulted the Benghazi compound and overran it. Yet Hillary Clinton did not participate in the email communications, and she apparently never communicated what she learned from Hicks to anyone involved in the messaging process.
Not only that, the emails show that the FBI had already concluded that al Qaeda (not just al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) was involved. Yet this information never saw the light of day:
I have not seen this reported anywhere. It strikes me as a blockbuster revelation.
As the email communications played out, Hillary was entirely absent. So who ran the show? Another striking fact about the emails is that the process was driven entirely by political operatives. The process was run by Ben Rhodes, an Obama speechwriter; Tommy Vietor, who started out driving a van for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign; and David Adams. Even David Petraeus was a mere flunky; he said that he would rather not use the watered-down talking points, but the Obama administration was not interested in his opinion:
So the final question is: where was Hillary Clinton in this process? Based on her conversation with Greg Hicks, she knew that the assault was planned, and that it was carried out by terrorists armed with RPGs and mortars. She knew that there was no demonstration over a video, or anything else. And yet she allowed her colleague Susan Rice to spin a web of lies to mislead the American people. Is Hillary Clinton an absent, inept manager who has little to do with what happens in the department she ostensibly runs? Or is Benghazi just one more example of an administration that cares nothing about policy, and everything about politics-an administration that is endlessly willing to subvert the truth for political ends? My own judgment is: certainly the latter, perhaps the former.
The emails weren't released because of a subpoena so we have absolutely no way of knowing if there are other, more damning emails that were conveniently left out of the doc dump. Rep. Issa's committee may have more to say about the emails in the coming days.