Once again, CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson is leading the way among mainstream journalists. The winner of this year’s Reed Irvine Award for Investigative Reporting is making the obvious point—that the Obama administration can’t seem to get its story straight about many aspects of Benghazi-Gate.
The issue on the table this week is why UN Ambassador Susan Rice was sent out to five Sunday talk shows on September 16th to explain what happened the previous Tuesday, September 11, in Benghazi, Libya, with talking points that proved to be false. Who asked her to be the administration spokesperson on the issue, and who changed the talking points to remove references to al Qaeda and terrorism that were in the original version from the CIA? This week, Rice was sent out, presumably to help rehabilitate her reputation before her expected nomination for Secretary of State, to replace Hillary Clinton in President Obama’s second term.
Attkisson pointed out, in an article titled “Who changed the Benghazi talking points?,” that “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.”
It turns out that Petraeus’ version of events changed from when he spoke to the Senate Intelligence Committee on September 13. At that time, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was asked by Wolf Blitzer, shortly after hearing Petraeus’ explanation, “Does it look like this was a carefully planned operation that was in the works for a while? What’s the latest assessment on that?” Sen. Feinstein replied, “I can say that I’ve seen no evidence or no assessment that indicates it was. I can certainly say that. There was a protest. And it could well be that quickly some two dozen people took that as an opportunity to attack.”
Other reports had James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, making the changes himself. But later it turned out, as reported by The Cable, that they were said to be made by the Office of the DNI, but not by the DNI himself.
According to President Obama, speaking at his November 14th press conference, Rice made a “presentation based on intelligence that she had received,” and it was done “at the request of the White House.” Does that mean the White House cleared what she said?
When Ambassador Rice met on Tuesday of this week with three Republican senators who had expressed serious doubts about her ability and qualifications to become Secretary of State in light of her actions, she was accompanied by the Acting CIA Director, Mike Morrell, who told the senators that it was the FBI who had removed the references “to prevent compromising an ongoing criminal investigation.”
Then the story changed again. “But it was just a matter of hours before there was yet another revision,” wrote Attkisson. “A CIA official contacted [Sen. Lindsey] 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.