White House says didn't heavily edit Benghazi talking points

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE Sat Nov 17, 2012 5:55pm EST

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) - The White House did not heavily alter talking points about the attacks on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya, an official said on Saturday.

"If there were adjustments made to them within the intelligence community, that's common, and that's something they would have done themselves," Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, told reporters. "The only edit ... made by the White House was the factual edit as to how to refer to the facility."

After a closed-door hearing with former CIA Director David Petraeus on Friday, Republican Representative Peter King said that unclassified talking points prepared by the CIA for use by lawmakers about the September 11 attack originally pointed specifically to al Qaeda involvement. King said they were edited before being cleared for use.

Rhodes said the White House, and also the State Department, changed references to the diplomatic facility as a "consulate," "because the consulate in Benghazi was not formally a consulate. Other than that we worked off the points that were provided by the intelligence community, so I can't speak to any other edits that may have been made."

The assault on the U.S. mission and nearby CIA annex in Benghazi has turned into a flash point between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republicans.

Republicans accuse the White House and in particular the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, of misleading the public just after the attack by suggesting the assault was a spontaneous act instead of a planned terrorist operation. The Obama administration denies misleading anyone and says it discussed information about the Benghazi tragedy as it came in.

"What I can say is those points, and what Susan said, indicated that we believed extremists were involved in this attack," Rhodes said.

When asked on Fox News on Saturday who might have made the edits, King said he did not know.

"That's why it's important to find out why it was done. It could be anywhere in the Defense Department, the State Department, the Justice Department, the White House," King said. "(We need) to find out why it was done, what the purpose of it was."

He added: "I have my own beliefs, that for whatever reasons, the administration honestly believes that the war against al Qaeda is pretty much over and that's the message that they wanted to present. But on the other hand, they may have some valid reason. I think we have to look at it."

(The story changes to consulate from conflict in fourth paragraph.)

(Reporting By Jeff Mason, Additional reporting by Doug Palmer in Washington, Writing by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Bill Trott and Eric Walsh)

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Comments (18)
Chazz wrote:
“Uh…I don’t know….”

The classic response of a guilty teenager or child. It’s so nice to see our “elected representatives” and “leaders” are nothing but the same.

Meanwhile, four Americans died horrible deaths in service to these “leaders.”

While that’s sick, what’s worse is that we allow our “leaders” to get away with this over and over and over again. Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?

Nov 17, 2012 11:50am EST  --  Report as abuse
Shelama wrote:
America also has the right to leave the existence and the security of Israel up to Yahweh and the Jews

Nov 17, 2012 12:59pm EST  --  Report as abuse
We need to acknowledge that human life was lost here, but we
also need to move on to a constructive place. Mr. McCain is
trying to make a living out of this and it’s not working.

Nov 17, 2012 1:18pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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