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.”
Petraeus on Friday told lawmakers that from the onset of the investigation about the Sept. 11 attack, US intelligence pointed to al Qaeda affiliates.
The former four-star general, who resigned from the CIA Nov. 9 due to an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, said the unclassified talking points were later revised to omit any mention of al Qaeda.
The edits would have been made after the statements had left the CIA for review by the Defense and State departments, ultimately landing at the White House.
But instead of relaying what the CIA initially reported, UN Ambassador Susan Rice repeatedly insisted the attack was a spontaneous protest spurred by an American-made video depicting Prophet Mohammed as a pedophile.
“The main question today is that somebody briefed Susan Rice and she said she took the best information that the intelligence community had,” said Rep. Peter King (R-LI), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, probing the botched response. “Now we’re trying to put all the pieces together.”
But he added, “It’s going to be a long process before we find out anything else.”
The Benghazi attack killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith and CIA employees Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
Democratic officials, including President Obama and Ambassador Rice, insist they disclosed information about the attack as details came in from the intelligence community.
But Republicans counter that the administration purposely misled the public into believing al Qaeda had nothing to do with the attack – in an effort to protect the president’s re-election campaign.
Intelligence officials yesterday said the references to al Qaeda connections were dropped to protect sensitive intelligence sources and methods – not the president’s bid for re-election.
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