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The Seeds of the Benghazi Talking Points

11:04 AM, May 14, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
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After the background briefing on September 12 and over the next three days, the information the administration had presented in this briefing was combined with new information that continued to be gathered by intelligence and other agencies and ultimately led to the talking points used by Susan Rice.  It was also during this time, as we reported, that the Overseas Security Advisory Council withdrew a report that had been issued on September 6, five days before the attack, entitled "Terrorism and Important Dates." The report downplayed the likelihood of a 9/11 anniversary-date attack by al Qaeda or other terror groups, noting that concerns over such attacks are often due to "increased media attention to the issue." A State Department official contacted via email said the report was withdrawn because "the content had expired," and did not respond to requests for further clarification.

The removal of references to prior security incidents from the talking points and the withdrawal of the Terrorism and Important Dates report suggests that the administration was not inclined to draw attention to its pre-Benghazi posture on diplomatic security and preparedness.  

Clearly the information during the first few days and even weeks after the Benghazi attacks was incomplete and even contradictory.  But in retrospect, it is clear that the Obama administration understood almost from the beginning the politically vulnerable position it was in due to its actions (and inaction) before, during, and, as soon became apparent, after the attacks. The clear frustration of the White House press corps during Friday's press briefing with Jay Carney may be another sign that the concerns over the last eight months of mainly conservatives and Republicans are beginning to spread.  Even Democrats at the Benghazi congressional hearings on Wednesday were openly calling for additional hearings to resolve the many remaining unanswered questions of Benghazi and the deaths of four Americans.

The coming weeks and months will be a strong test of the sincerity of an administration that has claimed on many occasions to be the most transparent in history.  The continuing obfuscation on Benghazi by administration officials up to and including the president is casting further doubt on that claim.

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