May 19, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 34 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
• Obama administration officials have long claimed that Susan Rice was simply repeating intelligence community talking points in her September 16, 2012, television appearances. But those talking points didn’t once mention the anti-Islam video that Rice placed at the center of her narrative. Indeed, in the 100 pages of emails related to the talking points, released by the White House in May 2013, the video was mentioned just twice—once on a list of cables and again as the subject line on an email concerning a White House meeting. If the intelligence community had believed that the video was the proximate cause of the Benghazi attacks, one assumes intelligence officials might have discussed it in emails. When former deputy CIA director Michael Morell was asked last month about Rice’s reliance on the video, he testified: “When she talked about the video, my reaction was that was not something the analysts attributed this attack to.”
• Jay Carney and others repeatedly claimed that intelligence officials were responsible for all of the substantive changes to the original Benghazi talking points. Carney insisted the White House had made just one “stylistic” mistake. Hillary Clinton testified that the intelligence community was the “principal decider” on the talking points. But an internal CIA email reported that the State Department had “major reservations” about the talking points and that “we revised the documents with their concerns in mind.” In all, objections from Obama officials resulted in all or part of four paragraphs of the six-paragraph talking points being removed—148 of 248 words.
Now there are more questions about those edits. When Fox News’s Bret Baier asked former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor whether he had changed “attacks” to “demonstrations,” surely something that would qualify as a substantive change, Vietor allowed that it was possible he had. “Maybe. I don’t remember,” he said.
• The top military intelligence official at U.S. Africa Command, whose job it was to determine responsibility for the attacks, concluded almost immediately that they were the work of al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists. This view was included in a Defense Intelligence Agency assessment published two days after the attacks, on September 13, 2012.
• Over the past six weeks, the Obama administration turned over some 3,200 pages of previously withheld Benghazi documents to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. These are documents that were subpoenaed in August 2013.
Add these recent developments to the vast landscape of previously discredited claims from top administration officials—on al Qaeda involvement, on the talking points, on the video, on transparency—and you have an issue that demands further investigation.
To claim otherwise is, well, crazy.
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