CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-White House says didn't heavily edit Benghazi talking points

Reuters Middle East

(Changes to consulate from conflict in fourth paragraph)

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE, Nov 17 (Reuters) - The White House did

not heavily alter talking points about the attacks on a U.S.

diplomatic mission in Libya, an official said on Saturday.

"If there were adjustments made to them within the

intelligence community, that's common, and that's something they

would have done themselves," Ben Rhodes, deputy national

security adviser, told reporters. "The only edit ... made by the

White House was the factual edit as to how to refer to the

facility."

After a closed-door hearing with former CIA Director David

Petraeus on Friday, Republican Representative Peter King said

that unclassified talking points prepared by the CIA for use by

lawmakers about the Sept. 11 attack originally pointed

specifically to al Qaeda involvement. King said they were edited

before being cleared for use.

Rhodes said the White House, and also the State Department,

changed references to the diplomatic facility as a "consulate,"

"because the consulate in Benghazi was not formally a consulate.

Other than that we worked off the points that were provided by

the intelligence community, so I can't speak to any other edits

that may have been made."

The assault on the U.S. mission and nearby CIA annex in

Benghazi has turned into a flash point between Democratic

President Barack Obama and Republicans.

Republicans accuse the White House and in particular the

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, of misleading

the public just after the attack by suggesting the assault was a

spontaneous act instead of a planned terrorist operation. The

Obama administration denies misleading anyone and says it

discussed information about the Benghazi tragedy as it came in.

" What I can say is those points, and what Susan said,

indicated that we believed extremists were involved in this

attack," Rhodes said.

When asked on Fox News on Saturday who might have made the

edits, King said he did not know.

"That's why it's important to find out why it was done. It

could be anywhere in the Defense Department, the State

Department, the Justice Department, the White House," King said.

"(We need) to find out why it was done, what the purpose of it

was."

He added: "I have my own beliefs, that for whatever reasons,

the administration honestly believes that the war against al

Qaeda is pretty much over and that's the message that they

wanted to present. But on the other hand, they may have some

valid reason. I think we have to look at it."

(Reporting By Jeff Mason, Additional reporting by Doug Palmer

in Washington, Writing by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Bill Trott

and Eric Walsh)

View Comments (0)