Guest post by Investors Business Daily
Libya: At least a dozen rewrites of the Benghazi talking points were made, with all references to al-Qaida and prior attacks removed at the direction of the secretary of state's office.
The astonishing thing about the administration's Benghazi cover-up is that it actually thought it could get away with it. But each lie has been successfully peeled away, from the protest that never happened, to the irrelevant filmmaker who was blamed, to the intelligence community whose talking points were used as a cover for incompetence and malfeasance.
Now White House and State Department emails obtained by ABC News, some first published by the Weekly Standard, show that the intelligence community, led by the CIA, told the truth about terrorist involvement in the Benghazi attacks and prior warnings in its original talking points draft. It was the White House and the State Department that lied and had them altered.
"Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC's best assessments of what they thought had happened," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters last Nov. 28. "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."
What the talking points reflected, after a dozen heavy edits dictated by the State Department, was a sanitized version designed to protect President Obama's re-election chances and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's prospective candidacy in 2016. They were deliberately altered to eliminate references to terrorism so the whole thing could be blamed on an inflammatory video and no one in the administration could be held responsible.
As ABC's Jonathan Karl reported, edits included requests from the State Department that references to the al Qaida-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well as references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.
The original CIA talking points contained this paragraph: "The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qaida 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 a June attack against the British ambassador's convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals had previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks."
In an email to White House officials and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information, saying 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?" The paragraph was entirely deleted.
Why would a State Department interested in protecting its secretary and its president want to tell the truth?
The original CIA draft said "we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qaida participated in the attack." It specifically named the al-Qaida-linked Ansar al-Sharia. Nuland objected, and it was taken out.
In an email dated Sept. 14, 2012, at 9:34 p.m. — three days after the attack and two days before Ambassador Rice appeared on the Sunday shows — Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes wrote an email saying the State Department's concerns needed to be addressed.
At a meeting Saturday morning, Sept. 15, at the White House, they were. The CIA drafted a final version of the talking points by deleting all references to al-Qaida and to the security warnings in Benghazi before the attack. In that email, Rhodes used the excuse that "we don't want to undermine the FBI investigation." Ironically, it was Rice's recitation of the censored talking points that impeded the FBI investigation and reduced cooperation by insulting the Libyan president. As Deputy Chief of Mission Gregory Hicks said during his recent testimony to Congress, Rice contradicted the Libyan president's Sept. 16 claims that the attack was premeditated.
"President Magariaf was insulted in front of his own people, in front of the world. His credibility was reduced," Hicks said. "It was planned, definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their arrival," Libyan President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf told CBS News' "Face The Nation" on Sept. 16 after Rice appeared saying exactly the opposite.
So as we've noted, we have Hillary Clinton's chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, trying to intimidate Gregory Hicks from telling the truth that they knew it was a terrorist attack from the "get-go," that there was no "protest" or mention of one from anyone on the ground and that the infamous YouTube video was "a non-event" in Libya.
And we have Clinton spokesman Victoria Nuland censoring CIA talking points that note terrorist involvement in the attacks and mention prior attacks in an environment full of terrorist training camps.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens was aware of the threat and had warned Benghazi could not be defended after what security they had was withdrawn.
In Stevens' name, and the names of Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, the American people deserve to know the truth. Those responsible for this fiasco and its cover-up must be held accountable.