The White House released 100 pages of emails Wednesday pertaining to the September 11, 2012, attack on a U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
There were no explosive revelations in the emails, but it appears CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell is possibly responsible for editing the administration’s talking points on the events in Libya that day, for example changing attack to “violent demonstration.”
Then-CIA director David Petraeus had received rewritten unclassified talking points with input from senior Obama administration policymakers regarding the September 11 attack on September 15 that diverged significantly from the talking points he received from the CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis on September 14, The Weekly Standard reports:
The original CIA talking points had been blunt: The assault on U.S. facilities in Benghazi was a terrorist attack conducted by a large group of Islamic extremists, including some with ties to al Qaeda. […] Before circulating the talking points to administration policymakers in the early evening of Friday, September 14, CIA officials changed “Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda” to simply “Islamic extremists.” But elsewhere, they added new contextual references to radical Islamists. They noted that initial press reports pointed to Ansar al Sharia involvement and added a bullet point highlighting the fact that the agency had warned about another potential attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in the region. “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.” All told, the draft of the CIA talking points that was sent to top Obama administration officials that Friday evening included more than a half-dozen references to the enemy—al Qaeda, Ansar al Sharia, jihadists, Islamic extremists, and so on. The version Petraeus received in his inbox Saturday, however, had none. The only remaining allusion to the bad guys noted that “extremists” might have participated in “violent demonstrations.” In an email at 2:44 p.m. to Chip Walter, head of the CIA’s legislative affairs office, Petraeus expressed frustration at the new, scrubbed talking points, noting that they had been stripped of much of the content his agency had provided.
CNN has also refuted a key point of last week’s ABC News report about the edits to the Benghazi talking points — specifically, the role of then-Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes wanting to protect the State Department’s interests.
TheBlaze notes the email obtained by CNN from Rhodes contains no mention of the State Department, as opposed to what ABC reported Rhodes wrote; “We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation.”