Earlier this week David Petraeus told Congress that talking points the CIA issued in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack were edited to exclude references to al-Qaeda involvement. UN Ambassador Susan Rice, in the days after the attack, used talking points in media appearances which made no reference to a planned terrorist attack. She further stated that “the currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the US Embassy in Cairo.”
In other words, the attack wasn’t an act of terrorism planned and executed by terrorists but rather a protest of a YouTube clip which spiraled out of control.
So who edited the report, the “talking points,” produced by the CIA and approved by the nation’s intelligence agencies? The Obama administration is saying it wasn’t them:
The White House yesterday denied it edited talking points about the terrorist attack that killed the American ambassador to Libya — contradicting remarks made a day earlier by disgraced ex-CIA chief David Petraeus.
“The only edit that was made by the White House and also by the State Department was to change the word ‘consulate’ to the word ‘diplomatic facility,’ since the facility in Benghazi was not formally a consulate,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters aboard Air Force One.
“Other than that, we were guided by the points that were provided by the intelligence community. So I can’t speak to any other edits that may have been made.”
This leaves us with the following choices:
1) Petraeus is lying.
2) The Obama administration is lying.
3) Neither is lying, and some other intermediary changed the report.
That last is hard to believe as you’d expect there to be a verifiable chain of who all handled this information. There just can’t be that many people who are allowed to access and edit this sort of information. If not, we’re apparently to believe that the Obama administration is running off to the media spouting talking points edited, from the time they were produced by the intelligence community, by some unknown entity.
I’d rather believe the White House is lying as the other option display a rather shocking level of incompetence.
Could Petraeus be lying? Maybe, but that seems unlikely. At this point the man doesn’t have much left to lose. He’s already been disgraced, why would he inject himself into further controversy by squaring off with the White House over something that wasn’t true? More likely is Petraeus feels a sense of duty to keep his professional reputation intact even as his personal reputation has taken a big hit.
We need to know who edited the report, why the edited the report and (perhaps most importantly) who ordered them to edit the report.