Something I asked pretty much on 9/12-9/14 on this very forum...WashPo finally getting around to it along with some "concern" from Bob Scheiffer of late.
New information is raising questions about the development of the administration’s talking points on the deadly attack on the diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans, including the ambassador, dead.
Readers may recall that The Fact Checker concluded that there was something rather odd about U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice’s comments on the Sunday news shows shortly after the attack. Rice said the attack “began spontaneously” because of a “hateful video,” and there was no indication it was “premeditated or preplanned.”
We awarded her Two Pinocchios the morning after she appeared on the shows, concluding that “the publicly available evidence stands in stark contrast to Rice’s talking points.”
The White House at the time sharply disputed that conclusion, but over time that column has held up rather well. (In an interview with congressional investigators that was released over the weekend, deputy chief of mission Gregory Hicks said “my jaw hit the floor as I watched this.”) Some readers have suggested we should boost the Pinocchio rating for Rice’s comments. Still, it is clear Rice was simply mouthing the words given to her. The bigger mystery now is who was involved in writing — and rewriting — the talking points.
The talking points have become important because, in the midst of President Obama’s reelection campaign, for a number of days they helped focus the journalistic narrative on an anti-Islam video — and away from a preplanned attack. As we noted in our timeline of administration statements, it took two weeks for the White House to formally acknowledge that Obama believed the attack was terrorism.
We also have awarded Pinocchios to Republicans for claims about Benghazi. In this column, as a reader service, we outline below some of the new disclosures, contained in a report by House Republicans and an article in the Weekly Standard, and contrast the new information with previous statements made by administration officials.
The House report contains references to specific e-mails between administration officials; the Weekly Standard then identifies who wrote the e-mails as well as various drafts of the talking points. As far as we know, the administration has not publicly denied the information about the talking points contained in the GOP report or the article.
The key new disclosure is that senior levels of the White House and State Department were closely involved in the rewriting of the talking points. Previously, Obama administration officials had strongly suggested that the talking points were developed almost exclusively by intelligence officials.
In a narrow sense, this is correct. Both the House report and the Weekly Standard say the CIA created — or “originated” — the first draft of the talking points. The version as of Friday morning, Sept. 14, 2012, was rather detailed, saying that “Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qaeda participated in the attack” and mentioning the militant group Ansar al-Sharia. It also referred to previous attacks against foreign interests and the possibility there had been surveillance of the U.S. facility.
But a senior State Department official — identified by the Weekly Standard as State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland — objected to this draft after being asked to clear the talking points for release. The CIA made some changes, but apparently that was not enough. Nuland said in an e-mail disclosed by the House report that the edits did not “resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership” and that the State Department’s leadership “was consulting with [National Security Staff.]”
(Update: Reading between the lines, part of State’s concern appears to be inconsistency in messaging. Nuland, as State Department spokesman, had been constrained from saying much about the attack at the podium, and now the CIA was proposing to give lawmakers much more information than the administration had released. Moreover, from State’s perspective, the original draft contained references to CIA’s warnings about the security environment, which appeared designed to deflect attention from the agency’s substantial role in Benghazi.)
Minutes later, a White House official (said to be Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications), who was part of the email group receiving Nuland’s message, e-mailed to say that the State Department’s concerns would need to be addressed and the issue would be resolved at a meeting the next day at the White House.
The reason Scheiffer's pissed now is because he's been shown to be a political hack just like all the others. They, and just like all the liberals in Tinderbox, had MORE of an issue to bitch about Romney's comments about Benghazi than actually do the work to figure out who the heck tried to blame this on a youtube video no one of us here in the US had heard about but some near 3rd-world country has.