ABC News has obtained every version of government talking points that were distributed after the attack on the Benghazi consulate, along with evidence that White House and State Department were more involved in the editing they want to admit. Reporter Jonathan Karl writes that the notes underwent 12 different revisions in the span of about 24 hours, with CIA and State Department officials going back and forth about the details, ultimately choosing to omit several direct reference to terrorism.
The Weekly Standard has also published an investigation of the email discussions that led to the various changes.
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used those talking to prepare for appearances on Sunday morning talk shows, five days after the attack on the consultate that killed four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya. Her assertion that the attacks were "spontaneous" demonstrations led to heavy criticism from Congressional Republicans that eventually scuttled her chance to become the next Secretary of State.
The very first version of the memo says that "currently available information" points to "spontaneously inspired" protests that "evolved" into an assault, but also mentions reports that Islamic extremists "with ties to al-Qa'ida" participated in the attack. It even refers to one prominent group, Ansar al-Sharia, by name and mentions pervious attacks and threats against the consulate.
Those references were eventually scrubbed, apparently at the request of State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, who worried about the political implications. In an email, about the talking points Nuland said those details "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?”
Despite claims that these edits are proof of meddling by Obama administration officials, White Press Secretary Jay Carney says that evidence doesn't contradict earlier statements that the talking points were created by the intelligence community. He says all the White House edits were "stylistic and nonsubstantive" and the CIA approved and signed-off on every version.
You can read all 12 version in the PDF below, via ABC News.
- Politics & Government
- Unrest, Conflicts & War
- State Department
- White House