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The Benghazi Talking Points
Weekly Standard ^ | May 3, 2013 | Stephen F. Hayes

Posted on 05/03/2013 10:10:00 AM PDT by billorites

Even as the White House strove last week to move beyond questions about the Benghazi attacks of Tuesday, September 11, 2012, fresh evidence emerged that senior Obama administration officials knowingly misled the country about what had happened in the days following the assaults. The Weekly Standard has obtained a timeline briefed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence detailing the heavy substantive revisions made to the CIA’s talking points, just six weeks before the 2012 presidential election, and additional information about why the changes were made and by whom.

As intelligence officials pieced together the puzzle of events unfolding in Libya, they concluded even before the assaults had ended that al Qaeda-linked terrorists were involved. Senior administration officials, however, sought to obscure the emerging picture and downplay the significance of attacks that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. The frantic process that produced the changes to the talking points took place over a 24-hour period just one day before Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, made her now-famous appearances on the Sunday television 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 exchange of emails is laid out in a 43-page report from the chairmen of five committees in the House of Representatives. Although the investigation was conducted by Republicans, leading some reporters and commentators to dismiss it, the report quotes directly from emails between top administration and intelligence officials, and it includes footnotes indicating the times the messages were sent. In some cases, the report did not provide the names of the senders, but The Weekly Standard has confirmed the identities of the authors of two critical emails—one indicating the main reason for the changes and the other announcing that the talking points would receive their final substantive rewrite at a meeting of top administration officials on Saturday, September 15.

The White House provided the emails to members of the House and Senate intelligence committees for a limited time and with the stipulation that the documents were available for review only and would not be turned over to the committees. The White House and committee leadership agreed to that arrangement as part of a deal that would keep Republican senators from blocking the confirmation of John Brennan, the president’s choice to run the CIA. If 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. The Weekly Standard sought comment from officials at the White House, the State Department, and the CIA, but received none by press time. Within hours of the initial attack on the U.S. facility, the State Department Operations Center sent out two alerts. The first, at 4:05 p.m. (all times are Eastern Standard Time), indicated that the compound was under attack; the second, at 6:08 p.m., indicated that Ansar al Sharia, an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group operating in Libya, had claimed credit for the attack. According to the House report, these alerts were circulated widely inside the government, including at the highest levels. 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.

After a briefing on Capitol Hill by CIA director David Petraeus, Democrat Dutch Ruppersburger, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, asked the intelligence community for unclassified guidance on what members of Congress could say in their public comments on the attacks. The CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis prepared the first draft of a response to the congressman, which was distributed internally for comment at 11:15 a.m. on Friday, September 14 (Version 1 at right). This initial CIA draft included the assertion that the U.S. government “know[s] that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in the attack.” That draft also noted that press reports “linked the attack to Ansar al Sharia. The group has since released a statement that its leadership did not order the attacks, but did not deny that some of its members were involved.” Ansar al Sharia, the CIA draft continued, aims to spread sharia law in Libya and “emphasizes the need for jihad.” The agency draft also raised the prospect that the facilities had been the subject of jihadist surveillance and offered a reminder that in the previous six months there had been “at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy.”

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.”

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.

There is little information about what happened at that meeting of the Deputies Committee. But according to two officials with knowledge of the process, Mike Morrell, deputy director of the CIA, made broad changes to the draft afterwards. Morrell cut all or parts of four paragraphs of the six-paragraph talking points—148 of its 248 words (see Version 2 above). Gone were the reference to “Islamic extremists,” the reminders of agency warnings about al Qaeda in Libya, the reference to “jihadists” in Cairo, the mention of possible surveillance of the facility in Benghazi, and the report of five previous attacks on foreign interests.

What remained—and would be included in the final version of the talking points—was mostly boilerplate about ongoing investigations and working with the Libyan government, together with bland language suggesting that the “violent demonstrations”—no longer “attacks”—were spontaneous responses to protests in Egypt and may have included generic “extremists” (see Version 3 above).

If the story of what happened in Benghazi was dramatically stripped down from the first draft of the CIA’s talking points to the version that emerged after the Deputies Committee meeting, the narrative would soon be built up again. In ensuing days, administration officials emphasized a “demonstration” in front of the U.S. facility in Benghazi and claimed that the demonstrators were provoked by a YouTube video. The CIA had softened “attack” to “demonstration.” But as soon became clear, there had been no demonstration in Benghazi.

More troubling was the YouTube video. Rice would spend much time on the Sunday talk shows pointing to this video as the trigger of the chaos in Benghazi. “What sparked the violence was a very hateful video on the Internet. It was a reaction to a video that had nothing to do with the United States.” There is no mention of any “video” in any of the many drafts of the talking points.

Still, top Obama officials would point to the video to explain Benghazi. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even denounced the video in a sort of diplomatic public service announcement in Pakistan. In a speech at the United Nations on September 25, the president mentioned the video several times in connection with Benghazi.

On September 17, the day after Rice appeared on the Sunday shows, Nuland defended Rice’s performance during the daily briefing at the State Department. “What I will say, though, is that Ambassador Rice, in her comments on every network over the weekend, was very clear, very precise, about what our initial assessment of what happened is. And this was not just her assessment, it was also an assessment you’ve heard in comments coming from the intelligence community, in comments coming from the White House.”

It was a preview of the administration’s defense of its claims on Ben­ghazi. After pushing the intelligence community to revise its talking points to fit the administration’s preferred narrative, administration officials would point fingers at the intelligence community when parts of that narrative were shown to be misleading or simply untrue.

And at times, members of the intelligence community appeared eager to help. On September 28, a statement from ODNI seemed designed to quiet the growing furor over the administration’s explanations of Benghazi. “In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. We provided that initial assessment to Executive Branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly and provide updates as they became available.”

The statement continued: “As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized attack carried out by extremists. It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate. However, we do assess that some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to al Qaeda.”

The statement strongly implies that the information about al Qaeda-linked terrorists was new, a revision of the initial assessment. But it wasn’t. Indeed, the original assessment stated, without qualification, “we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in the attack.”

The statement from the ODNI came not from James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, but from his spokesman, Shawn Turner. When the statement was released, current and former intelligence officials told The Weekly Standard that they found the statement itself odd and the fact that it didn’t come from Clapper stranger still. Clapper was traveling when he was first shown a draft of the statement to go out under his name. It is not an accident that it didn’t.

The revelations about exactly how the talking points were written, revised, and then embellished come amid renewed scrutiny of the administration’s handling of Benghazi. Fox News spoke to a Special Ops soldier last week who raised new questions about what happened during the attack, and the State Department’s inspector general acknowledged that the office would be investigating the production of the Administrative Review Board report on the attacks because of concerns that investigators did not speak to a broad spectrum of individuals with knowledge of the attack and its aftermath. On May 8, the House Oversight and Government Reform committee will hold another hearing on the matter. And Republicans in Congress have asked the administration to release all of the emails, something that would further clarify how the changes came about.

TOPICS: Breaking News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 1stamendment; 20120912; 20120914; 20120915; 20120917; 20120928; 2012election; 20130508; alqaeda; ansaralsharia; aq; arb; benghazicoverup; benghazielies; benghazigate; benghazitimeline; benrhodes; cia; clapper; diplomaticsecurity; election2012; emails; firstamendment; freespeech; jamesclapper; libya; mikemorrel; mikemorrell; morrel; obama; odni; rhodes; seanturner; shawnturner; statedepartment; susanrice; turner
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1 posted on 05/03/2013 10:10:00 AM PDT by billorites
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To: billorites
Speaker Boehner. Paging Speaker Boehner. Please pick up the red phone in the lobby. There's a call for you.


3 posted on 05/03/2013 10:14:38 AM PDT by Servant of the Cross (the Truth will set you free)
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To: Travis McGee

4 posted on 05/03/2013 10:15:46 AM PDT by Servant of the Cross (the Truth will set you free)
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To: Servant of the Cross

Tell me again WHY isn’t Obama, Hillary, Holder, and Rica ALL not in a federal prison?????

5 posted on 05/03/2013 10:20:18 AM PDT by NCC-1701 (The LEFT's intolerance of the RIGHT is intolerable.)
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To: billorites
It's amusing to see the Dems squirm and call out to their propaganda arm (the "media") to shut down these questions by saying it happened "long ago".

The Dems kept Watergate on the front pages and top-of-the-hour news for two years! Where was the call about that being "long ago"? Daily televised Congressional hearings were the order of the day back then. ABCCBSNBC cut off regular programming to show those hearings. Where are they now? Where were the calls about Congress being too caught up in this and to "get back to governing the nation"?

Throw all of this stuff back into to the Dems and the media's faces when they try to deflect the Benghazi probe and cap it off by saying, "At least nobody died in Watergate!".

6 posted on 05/03/2013 10:22:42 AM PDT by jeffc (The U.S. media are our enemy)
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To: annieokie; penelopesire; maggief; Protect the Bill of Rights; thouworm; SE Mom; Nachum; onyx; ...
Wiggling all the way home...

Anyone wanting on or off this ping list, please advise.

Benghazi Index

7 posted on 05/03/2013 10:32:29 AM PDT by MestaMachine
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To: billorites
Susan Rice was bribed. She was told that if she lied about Benghazi, she'd be offered a promotion. This is EXACTLY what happened following Benghazi. Clear as day.

0bama also chose Rice to lie on those Sunday shows because she is a 'protected class' individual and if attacked for her lies, team 0bama and the media would quickly make charges of 'racism' or 'sexism' in response.

8 posted on 05/03/2013 10:38:37 AM PDT by GeorgeWashingtonsGhost
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To: MestaMachine

Someone made a great point yesterday. When Carney said Benghazi was a long time ago a reporter should have asked, “wasn’t the Bush Presidency a long time ago, and you still blame him?”

9 posted on 05/03/2013 10:57:09 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (The reason we own guns is to protect ourselves from those wanting to take our guns from us.)
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To: billorites

You can sense the fear of exposure that the order to stand down the rescue of the Americans trapped in Benghazi came from the white house.

10 posted on 05/03/2013 10:58:29 AM PDT by Menehune56 ("Let them hate so long as they fear" (Oderint Dum Metuant), Lucius Accius (170 BC - 86 BC))
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: longfellow

The socialists democrats motto. If you want to SAVE YOUR BEHIND you must HIDE THE DECLINE

12 posted on 05/03/2013 11:55:27 AM PDT by spawn44 (MOO)
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To: billorites
Hillary Clinton is THE original source of the 'video did it' excuse for Benghazi, Cairo and all the rest of the embassy riots around the world. Hillary did it!

US Embassy in Cairo quietly deletes its ‘we stand by our condemnation’ tweet; Update: More deleted tweets!

Here is Hillary pushing it again on Sept. 13th.

Clinton: Anti-Islam Video 'Disgusting' (video 2:56)

Here is a 'senior administration official' trying to distance 0bamugabe from Hillary's f-up and at the same time admitting by inference that she was the source of the 'video did it' meme.

Senior administration official: The Cairo embassy’s statement does not reflect the view of the U.S. government; Update: Romney calls embassy statement “disgraceful”

posted at 10:34 pm on September 11, 2012 by Allahpundit

The White House is disavowing a statement from their own Cairo embassy that apologized for anti-Muslim activity in the United States.

“The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government,” a senior administration official told POLITICO…

“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a Tuesday statement.

And here 0bamugabe and Hillary work together to try to prop up her 'video did it' nonsense and spread it even further.

Obama and Hillary Apologize for Free Speech on Pakistani TV (taxpayer-funded ads) 09/20/2012

Nope, she never said anything about a 'video.'

Father of Fallen SEAL: Hillary Told Me They’d Get That Filmmaker Good 10/25/2012 videos at link

WH: Obama Called Hillary at 10PM on Night of Benghazi Attack–About Same Time Clinton | CNS News

13 posted on 05/03/2013 12:51:43 PM PDT by TigersEye (If babies had guns they wouldn't be aborted)
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To: TigersEye

This reminds me of what the mother of one of the dead said that Hillary told her, that they were gonna prosecute the person who made the video. She knowingly lied to that mother. But the mother knew that at the time anyway.

14 posted on 05/03/2013 3:41:51 PM PDT by uncitizen
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To: billorites
0bama didn't want a 'terrorist attack' on his watch RIGHT BEFORE the election, so team 0bama called it a "protest over an Anti-Islam video".

The OTHER 'terrorist attack' that got called something else was Ft. Hood. Team 0bama named that one "workplace violence".

Both of these are cover-ups to 'save face' for Team 0bama!

15 posted on 05/03/2013 3:52:47 PM PDT by GeorgeWashingtonsGhost
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To: GeorgeWashingtonsGhost

And Nixon resigned because.....? Arrogate

“For the first time in my life, I’m ASHAMED of my country.”

16 posted on 05/03/2013 3:58:22 PM PDT by Benjamin Dover (This tagline space for rent)
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To: billorites

Low-information citzens will never hear the truth about the Benghazi attack, nor understand the importance.

A US Ambassador was killed in a terrorist assault that killed 3 others, and woulded several more. Then candidate Obama lied to the American people six weeks before election day because the attack theatened his credibility on keeping America safe from islamists.

To me, this is an impeachable act that will never see the light of day. Where are Woodward and Bernstein when the American people need them?

17 posted on 05/03/2013 4:02:18 PM PDT by Oldeconomybuyer (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.)
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To: NCC-1701
Not that it seems to matter any more, but: U.S. Constitution - Article 2 Section 3:

"He (referring to the President) shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union,"

Note that it doesn't say he will provide a "State of the Union" speech. It says "from time to time" which needs to be interpreted to mean that anytime the President or any of his subordinates communicates with the Congress it is official notification of the "state of the union" and telling these endless lies to Congress is TREASON!!!

18 posted on 05/03/2013 4:04:58 PM PDT by Thom Pain (U.S. Constitution is a CONTRACT!)
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To: Thom Pain

The US Congress, beholden to al Qaeda (even giving
Islam EXEMPTION from DEATHCARE/ObamaCARE) will do nothing.

They want Saudi money, Arab money, money, money, money.
They all belong in prison for selling out America.

19 posted on 05/03/2013 4:19:30 PM PDT by Diogenesis (De Oppresso Liber)
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To: F15Eagle
~~~Even as the White House strove last week to move beyond questions about the Benghazi attacks of Tuesday, September 11, 2012, fresh evidence emerged that senior Obama administration officials knowingly misled the country about what had happened~~~ Even as the White House TRIED TO SUPPRESS, DODGE, AND AVOID questions about the Benghazi attacks of Tuesday, September 11, 2012, fresh evidence emerged that senior Obama administration officials knowingly misled the country about what had happened There. Fixed it.

I think the Benghazi issue goes way beyond misleading the Country about what happened.

20 posted on 05/03/2013 4:28:29 PM PDT by thegrump (The US is not at war with Islam, but Islam sure as H%!! is at war with the US.)
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