Benghazi talking points, version 12.0
Game, set, and match… if the rest of the media keeps running with this story, now that ABC News has broken it.
As ABC duly acknowledges, it’s not entirely brand-new information, as it builds from the landmark Weekly Standard report on smoking-gun emails related to the politicized editing of the Benghazi talking points, posted online last week. But ABC News enhanced the story by getting its hands on even more documentation, and the result is a story that can no longer be kept under quarantine in the conservative media “ghetto,” where the rest of the media dismisses accurate, well-documented stories by sneering that only the likes of Fox News care about them.
What ABC News brings us is a version history of the Benghazi talking points, in which they passed through 12 versions that began with reasonably accurate and complete information from the intelligence community… and ended with the malarkey peddled by the Administration:
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.
That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about the talking points in November.
“Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened,” Carney told reporters at the White House press briefing on November 28, 2012. “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”
Carney has said the revisions to the talking points were merely “stylistic.” Yes, I believe that style is called “lying.”
For the benefit of liberal forum trolls, and a few mainstream media reporters, who can’t figure out why the Administration would orchestrate a cover-up when they supposedly had nothing to hide, the material uncovered by ABC News makes it crystal clear:
State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland raised specific objections to this paragraph drafted by the CIA in its earlier versions of the talking points:
“The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”
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 paragraph was entirely deleted.
The genesis of the “spontaneous video protest” fraud is also revealed in these emails, as the CIA’s first draft incorrectly suggested the Benghazi attack was apparently “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo,” an idea whose origin remains unclear, because in reality there was never any reason for anyone knowledgeable about the attack to believe that. It should also be noted that the Cairo protests themselves only incorporated the infamous YouTube video as an after-the-fact justification; they were originally organized for the purpose of demanding the extradition of the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman, on the anniversary of 9/11. At any rate, the CIA analysts continued, “That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qaeda participated in the attack,” and they named the al-Qaeda affiliate called Ansar al-Sharia.
As Wednesday’s testimony made clear, a five-minute phone call to Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks in Tripoli could have cleared up the “protest” nonsense… but instead, at the urging of Victoria Nuland, the Administration went in the opposite direction, scrubbing everything except the nonsense. Everything about al-Qaeda and the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi leading up to the attack was purged from the talking points.
Obama’s political operatives were right to be concerned. Can you imagine what the public response would have been, if U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice hit the Sunday talk shows to dispense honest, accurate, complete information? “Yes, it’s clear there were mounting security issues in Benghazi, and a disturbing level of terrorist activity, culminating in an organized attack involving crew-served weapons and precision mortar fire that killed our Ambassador and his heroic, outnumbered defenders. But we made no effort to rescue him, took absolutely no precautions to send special-ops teams or air power to his rescue on the anniversary of 9/11, and in fact we reduced his security over his protests, because… oh, darn, look at the time, I’ve got to go. Have a great day, everybody!”
Does anyone in the media – aside from the hacks ready and willing to suppress any story that hurts Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton – really still need the dots connected for them? More hearings are on the way, in which tough questions will be asked about how the State Department’s internal review managed to miss all the blockbuster revelations of the past week. The liberal media can’t pretend this is just a “Fox story” any more.
I’m old enough to remember when they wouldn’t need any prodding to investigate an Administration that lied to the American people, and to the families of the fallen. Pat Smith, mother of slain diplomat Sean Smith, recently expressed her frustration at the difficulty of getting the truth out of Hillary Clinton and her operatives to Jake Tapper of CNN (he was formerly with ABC News.) Tapper responded, “I don’t find it surprising that you haven’t gotten answers, because I haven’t either, and I’ve been reporting on this since September.” Remarkably few of his colleagues have expressed any such frustration, or indeed much in the way of curiosity.
American Crossroads put together a video effectively contrasting the Adminstration’s false statements with testimony from this week’s hearings. If the President was a Republican, this is what the first segment of your nightly newscast would look like.
Update: Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) called for a congressional investigation, based in part on the stories of relentless talking-point revision: “The death of Ambassador Stevens and other Americans in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 is upsetting, and I remain troubled by the aftermath and the fact that the terrorists involved have not been identified or captured. I have long supported a congressional investigation and want to get answers to important questions such as could the consulate have been better secured and did the administration mislead the public. The recent testimony of Mr. Hicks, as well as news reports that this administration may have stricken references to terrorism in CIA reports about the attack, further justify why I’ve demanded such an inquiry, including cosponsoring legislation that would require a thorough investigation.”