Thursday, November 29, 2012

Who Changed the Benghazi Talking Points?

From Sharyl Attkisson at CBS News (via Memeorandum):

Who within the Obama administration deleted mention of "terrorism" and "al-Qaeda" from the CIA's talking points on the deadly Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi?

It isn't the only unanswered question in the wake of the tragedy, but it's proven to be one of the most confounding.

The question was first raised 12 days ago when former CIA Director General David Petraeus told members of Congress that his original talking points cleared for public dissemination included the likely involvement by terrorists and an al-Qaeda affiliate. Petraeus said somebody removed the references before they were used to inform the public.

The Obama administration has declined to directly answer who made the edits. And the nation's top intelligence officials appear either confused or not forthcoming about the journey their own intelligence took.

On Fri. Nov. 16, Petraeus told members of Congress that it wasn't the CIA that changed the talking points.

The White House and the State Department said it wasn't them.

The CIA then told CBS News that the edits were made at a "senior level in the interagency process." Intelligence officials said the references were dropped so as not to tip off al Qaeda as to what the U.S. knew, and to protect sources and methods.

Soon thereafter, another reason was given. A source from the Office of the Director for National Intelligence (ODNI) told CBS News' Margaret Brennan that ODNI made the edits as part of the interagency process because the links to al Qaeda were deemed too "tenuous" to make public.

On Tuesday, Acting CIA Director Mike Morell provided yet another account. In a meeting with Republican Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Morell stated that he believed it was the FBI that removed the references. He said the FBI did so "to prevent compromising an ongoing criminal investigation."

"We were surprised by this revelation and the reasoning behind it," wrote the senators in a joint statement Tuesday.

But it was just a matter of hours before there was yet another revision. A CIA official contacted Graham and stated that Morell "misspoke" in the earlier meeting and that it was, in fact, the CIA, not the FBI, that deleted the al Qaeda references. "They were unable to give a reason as to why," stated Graham.

A U.S. intelligence official on Tuesday told CBS News there was "absolutely no intent to misinform." The official says the talking points "were never meant to be definitive and, in fact, noted that the assessment may change. The points clearly reflect the early indications of extremist involvement in a direct result. It wasn't until after they were used in public that analysts reconciled contradictory information about how the assault began."
If Obama and his minions would have just told the truth from the start there'd be no need for all these unending "revisions." But that's what we've come to expect from "the most transparent administration in history."