Reports Confirm “Scrubbing” of Benghazi Talking Points as Boehner Demands White House Release E-Mails

| May 11 2013

In the aftermath of the Benghazi terrorist attack that killed four Americans, President Obama and members of his administration repeatedly peddled a false narrative of the attack they claim was based entirely on talking points produced by the intelligence community.  But as ABC News reports today, the talking points used by President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice following the attack were, in fact, “scrubbed” by the White House and State Department numerous times to remove any reference to terrorism or prior warnings of a possible attack.  Here’s more from the report:

“ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.

“White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department.  The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack. …

 “In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it ‘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?  Concerned’”

The Obama administration is refusing to make these unclassified e-mails available to the public.  Yesterday, Speaker Boehner called on the administration to release these e-mails so the American people can judge for themselves how the administration handled the aftermath of the Benghazi attack:

  • “A Republican campaign to highlight the Obama administration’s handling of terrorist attacks on U.S. posts in Libya last year gained momentum on Thursday.  House Speaker John Boehner demanded that the State Department release more emails about the assaults in Benghazi that killed four Americans on Sept. 11.” (Reuters, 5/9/13)
  • His move was the first of many expected by Republicans in the coming days and weeks to try to force the White House to divulge more documents and allow additional witnesses to testify. Republican-led investigations into the siege on Benghazi — which cost four Americans, including the former ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, their lives — have been growing in intensity and scope.” (The New  York Times, 5/9/13)
  • “‘The goal here is to get to the truth,’ Mr. Boehner said. ‘The reason this is still under way is because the White House has done everything possible to block access to the information that would outline the truth. And the question you have to ask is why?’” (Wall Street Journal, 5/9/13)
  • “House Speaker John A. Boehner on Thursday called on President Obama to release a cache of emails that Republicans say clearly prove senior White House and State Department officials sought to mislead the American public about the Benghazi terrorist attack during last year’s election campaign.” (Washington Times, 5/9/13)
  • “Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said the public should have access to emails a senior State Department official allegedly emailed her superiors after the 2011 attack to relay that she had told the Libyan ambassador the attack was conducted by Islamic terrorists.” (UPI, 5/9/13)
  • “‘Somebody clearly decided they didn’t like the references to Islamic terrorism, and made changes in this document. The American people deserve the truth. And they will get the truth,’ Boehner said during a Thursday press conference on Capitol Hill.” (MSNBC, 5/9/13)
  • “The Ohio Republican went on to say that the White House has claimed it made ‘stylistic changes’ to Rice’s talking points, but it failed to mention that senior officials directed the changes to the talking points. ‘Last November, the President said he was ‘happy to cooperate in any way Congress wants.’ This is his chance,’ Boehner said.” (Politico, 5/9/13)
  • “Boehner said Republicans wanted the release of emails that indicate senior State Department officials knew the incident was a terror attack before the administration sent U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to sit for television interviews in which she did not label the killings as terrorism.” (The Hill, 5/9/13)
  • “Boehner specifically urged the Obama administration to make public a set of internal emails that some lawmakers had been able to review but not keep. … Separate emails, though, allegedly depict the White House and State Department pressing lower-level officials to remove references to terrorism in talking points about the attacks.” (Fox News, 5/9/13)
  • “Boehner also called for the release of e-mails that, according to a House report, show the White House and State Department were involved in rewriting CIA talking points that led U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to describe the attacks as apparently unplanned.” (The Washington Post, 5/9/13)
  • “‘The White House continues to claim it only made stylistic changes to talking points used by (U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) Susan Rice, ignoring the fact that seniors White House officials directed the changes being made to those talking points,’ Boehner said.” (CNN, 5/9/13)

The pressure is mounting on the White House to come clean about what the American people were told immediately following the Benghazi attacks.  As Speaker Boehner said yesterday, “Congress is going to continue to investigate this issue using all the resources at our disposal” to get the answers the American people deserve.

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