In an advance issue of The Weekly Standard titled The Benghazi Talking Points, Stephen Hayes lays out new evidence that members of the Obama administration actively lied about who was responsible for the death of four Americans. The Weekly Standard has obtained emails detailing how high level officials made changes to the CIA talking points, effectively erasing Al Qaeda from the picture.
“The discussions involved senior officials from the State Department, the National Security Council, the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the White House.”
This is a very detailed and long article with a lot of unwritten questions in it. Questions I will pose here, so I urge you to read it all before proceeding with the remained of this post.
In the first page of the article, Hayes says that there were emails turned over that had ‘stipulations’. The section, with emphasis added:
“The White House provided the emails to members of the House and Senate intelligence committees for a limited time and with the stipulation that the documents were available for review only and would not be turned over to the committees. The White House and committee leadership agreed to that arrangement as part of a deal that would keep Republican senators from blocking the confirmation of John Brennan, the president’s choice to run the CIA. If the House report provides an accurate and complete depiction of the emails, it is clear that senior administration officials engaged in a wholesale rewriting of intelligence assessments about Benghazi in order to mislead the public.”
Why an emphasis on Brennan? This administration has stonewalled, lied and spun Benghazi for over seven months. Suddenly now they turn these emails over, making Brennan part of the deal? Of all the things the White House could ask for, they ask for Brennan to be confirmed for CIA? Why? Was it to ensure that someone would be in place to protect this administration’s narrative on Benghazi and the President’s alleged non-role in decision making that night?
Bear in mind that the active head of the CIA at the time of the attacks was Petraeus. The scandal surrounding Petraeus’ affair was kept on the back burner until after the election, but put into public view last year on November 7th when Petraeus resigned. It it plausible the timing was coincidence, however more likely the administration wished to keep him from testifying, as well as keep Benghazi out of the limelight until after the election – although he did testify at a later date. By then the media had everyone focused on the scandal and not Petraeus’ role at the CIA and Benghazi.
In fact, it was Mike Morrell who would end up testifying for Petraeus in closed-door sessions first – the same one that The Weekly Standard article cites as being the one who changed the talking points:
There is little information about what happened at that meeting of the Deputies Committee. But according to two officials with knowledge of the process, Mike Morrell, deputy director of the CIA, made broad changes to the draft afterwards. Morrell cut all or parts of four paragraphs of the six-paragraph talking points—148 of its 248 words (see Version 2 above). Gone were the reference to “Islamic extremists,” the reminders of agency warnings about al Qaeda in Libya, the reference to “jihadists” in Cairo, the mention of possible surveillance of the facility in Benghazi, and the report of five previous attacks on foreign interests.
Later in November, the Obama administration would shrug off the controversy surrounding Susan Rice and the YouTube video she pushed. Related reading: #Benghazi: Obama’s Lack of Concern On Rice’s Lies (Updated)
Where did the insertion of the Youtube video come from? Victoria Nuland is identified by The Weekly Standard as a key player in the changing of the talking points:
The talking points were first distributed to officials in the interagency vetting process at 6:52 p.m. on Friday. Less than an hour later, at 7:39 p.m., an individual identified in the House report only as a “senior State Department official” responded to raise “serious concerns” about the draft. That official, whom The Weekly Standard has confirmed was State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, worried that members of Congress would use the talking points to criticize the State Department for “not paying attention to Agency warnings.”
In an attempt to address those concerns, CIA officials cut all references to Ansar al Sharia and made minor tweaks. But in a follow-up email at 9:24 p.m., Nuland wrote that the problem remained and that her superiors—she did not say which ones—were unhappy. The changes, she wrote, did not “resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership,” and State Department leadership was contacting National Security Council officials directly. Moments later, according to the House report, “White House officials responded by stating that the State Department’s concerns would have to be taken into account.” One official—Ben Rhodes, The Weekly Standard is told, a top adviser to President Obama on national security and foreign policy—further advised the group that the issues would be resolved in a meeting of top administration officials the following morning at the White House.
So Nuland was the point person for the State department coordinating the changes desired by her superiors. No where in Nuland’s changes in the emails does the infamous YouTube video come into play. So where did the Nakoula video get added in and who did it? The Weekly Standard’s Hayes highlights the discrepancy:
More troubling was the YouTube video. Rice would spend much time on the Sunday talk shows pointing to this video as the trigger of the chaos in Benghazi. “What sparked the violence was a very hateful video on the Internet. It was a reaction to a video that had nothing to do with the United States.” There is no mention of any “video” in any of the many drafts of the talking points.
Still, top Obama officials would point to the video to explain Benghazi. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even denounced the video in a sort of diplomatic public service announcement in Pakistan. In a speech at the United Nations on September 25, the president mentioned the video several times in connection with Benghazi.
On September 17, the day after Rice appeared on the Sunday shows, Nuland defended Rice’s performance during the daily briefing at the State Department. “What I will say, though, is that Ambassador Rice, in her comments on every network over the weekend, was very clear, very precise, about what our initial assessment of what happened is. And this was not just her assessment, it was also an assessment you’ve heard in comments coming from the intelligence community, in comments coming from the White House.”
Here, below, is the full briefing on September 13, 2012 by Nuland. The very first question put to her is about the talking points given to the press. She deflects, says there is nothing new then speaks about witnesses coming out of Benghazi who need interviewing before they will have a full picture of what happened. Not far into the briefing, the Nakoula video pops up around the 7:18 mark and again beginning at the 19:00 mark through the 25:00 mark. There is a little more discussion of it past that as well, so view the whole thing.
In the briefing, Nuland floats the idea that the Nakoula video had been around for a while, yet we know that the number of views on it prior to the attack in Cairo were very low. It wasn’t until after Hillary Clinton came out condemning the Nakoula video specifically on September 13th that the views on YouTube really exploded.
The day prior, Clinton only mentioned, “We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault. Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet.” Clinton’s related video link here. Note: There is also speculation the protests in Cairo were not about the little known video at all, but instead were protests to release the Blind Sheik.
Watch the full briefing by Victoria Nuland:
Side note: In the daily briefing on September 11,2012 just past the 26:40 mark, Nuland is asked about the attack on the Egyptian Embassy. Specifically about the American flag being replaced with the Black Al Qaeda flag. Nuland corrects the questioner and says it is just ‘a black flag’. Discussion of the topic continues through about 34:50. No where in this briefing is a YouTube video mentioned or discussed. Perhaps the idea of adding the YouTube video came from the Cairo embassy, who tweeted out an odd apology to Muslims and then deleted it. I noted some time ago, this administration already knew who Nakoula was and perhaps just kept him in view until he became useful.
Meanwhile, in a jail somewhere, someone else is paying for what happened in Benghazi courtesy of the Obama administration:
If the interim report is any indication, the hearing on May 8th should be interesting, especially in light of these emails and with the emergence of whistleblowers. Also remember that Nakoula was not the only used like a human shield by this administration, remember the ‘systemic failures’? Refresh your memory:
From the video description:
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also said three others — two in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and one in the Bureau of Near East Asia Affairs — have been “relieved of their current duties” and placed on administrative leave “pending further action.” That contrasted with the AP’s earlier report that at least three officials had resigned, including Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security.
The State Department-ordered investigation of the Sept. 11 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, concluded that “systemic failures” left the facility inadequately protected.
Systemic failures indeed — in telling the truth.
Even with just these piece put forward here in this post, it’s clear there are holes in Hillary Clinton’s testimony on Benghazi that you can drive a truck through. Beyond a doubt there is a coverup going on; whether it is a coverup to mask gross incompetence or something bigger remains to be seen.
Flashback: Hillary Doubles Down
Prior posts from LL1885 on Benghazi here.
Roger Simon at PJ Media: Benghazi impeachment suddenly not so far-fetched
FOX Special Report: Benghazi Developments (video via NRO)
Twitchy: President Obama “Not Familiar With” Any Blocked Benghazi Testimony (video)
Gateway Pundit: Whistle-Blower: Obama Administration Lied – US Forces Could Have Intervened in Benghazi (Video)
TheConMom: Benghazi related article archive