Opinion

Explosive new info on Benghazi talking points: Who changed them and why

Hillary+Clinton+Susan+Rice+Obama+Announces+BG8JYTs-auTl An advance article released Friday from The Weekly Standard details new information on why and who made the “heavy substantive revisions” to the infamous talking points used by the Obama administration in the days after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

Using a “timeline briefed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence” showing the incredible revisions, Stephen Hayes from The Weekly Standard reported the changes were made during a “frantic process” 24 hours prior to when U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on the Sunday talk shows.

“The discussions involved senior officials from the State Department, the National Security Council, the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the White House,” the article said.

The email exchanges were included in a new GOP-led House report from April and “[i]f the House report provides an accurate and complete depiction of the emails, it is clear that senior administration officials engaged in a wholesale rewriting of intelligence assessments about Benghazi in order to mislead the public,” Hayes wrote.

Literally within the first two hours of the attack on the consulate on Sept. 11, senior administration officials were informed a Libyan al-Qaida linked group claimed credit.

According to The Weekly Standard:

The fighting in Benghazi continued for another several hours, so top Obama administration officials were told even as the fighting was taking place that U.S. diplomats and intelligence operatives were likely being attacked by al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists. A cable sent the following day, September 12, by the CIA station chief in Libya, reported that eyewitnesses confirmed the participation of Islamic militants and made clear that U.S. facilities in Benghazi had come under terrorist attack. It was this fact, along with several others, that top Obama officials would work so hard to obscure.

Weekly Standard benghazi  talking points
Photo Credit: The Weekly Standard

Fast forward to what became a frantic Friday, Sept. 14 when the first draft of CIA talking points were released at 11:15 a.m. to members of Congress that was actually later updated to include even more information:

After the internal distribution, CIA officials amended that draft to include more information about the jihadist threat in both Egypt and Libya. “On 10 September we warned of social media reports calling for a demonstration in front of the [Cairo] Embassy and that jihadists were threatening to break into the Embassy,” the agency had added by late afternoon. And: “The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al Qaeda in Benghazi and Libya.” But elsewhere, CIA officials pulled back. The reference to “Islamic extremists” no longer specified “Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda,” and the initial reference to “attacks” in Benghazi was changed to “demonstrations.”

The talking points were first distributed to officials in the interagency vetting process at 6:52 p.m. on Friday. Less than an hour later, at 7:39 p.m., an individual identified in the House report only as a “senior State Department official” responded to raise “serious concerns” about the draft. That official, whom The Weekly Standard has confirmed was State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, worried that members of Congress would use the talking points to criticize the State Department for “not paying attention to Agency warnings.”

Then, according to The Weekly Standard, the State Department got the White House involved Friday evening to start its spin of protecting the powers that be and it effort to mislead the American people about the attack.

In an attempt to address those concerns, CIA officials cut all references to Ansar al Sharia and made minor tweaks. But in a follow-up email at 9:24 p.m., Nuland wrote that the problem remained and that her superiors—she did not say which ones—were unhappy. The changes, she wrote, did not “resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership,” and State Department leadership was contacting National Security Council officials directly. Moments later, according to the House report, “White House officials responded by stating that the State Department’s concerns would have to be taken into account.” One official—Ben Rhodes, The Weekly Standard is told, a top adviser to President Obama on national security and foreign policy—further advised the group that the issues would be resolved in a meeting of top administration officials the following morning at the White House.

benghazi talking points version 3 WeeklyStandard
Photo Credit: The Weekly Standard

The final, third version bears almost no resemblance to the factual first version, but Hayes pointed out something missing from all three versions: the YouTube video.

That anti-Islamic YouTube video Rice mentioned on every talk show Sunday, Sept. 16. That “hateful video” that “sparked the violence,” she said over and over. That video that Hillary Clinton and her State Department and President Obama and his White House continued to blame for being the cause of the “demonstration” that left four American slaughtered on Sept. 11, 2012.

You know, that event that happened “a long time ago,”…Jay Carney (May 1, 2013). That event: “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?”…Hillary Clinton (Jan. 23, 2013). That event that Sec. of State John Kerry said, “we got a lot more important things to move on to and get done.” (April 17, 2013)

We can only hope that the victims’ families and the American people will finally get some truthful answers when Congressional hearings begin again on Benghazi May 8.

Read more from The Weekly Standard here.

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