The State Department explicitly removed all references to terrorism and extremist groups from the original talking points on last September’s terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya,
according to a report Friday from ABC News’ Jon Karl.Karl reports that there were 12 different versions of the talking points before they were given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as she appeared on five Sunday talk shows in the days after the attack and largely blamed it on a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video.
The editing process on the talking points had input from the State Department, which appears to contradict earlier proclamations from the White House suggesting that the talking points were produced almost entirely by the CIA.
According to Karl, the early drafts of the talking points included references to “Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida” who “participated in the attacks,” as well as CIA warnings about threats in the months prior to the attack.
After State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland expressed concern about those portions and others, small changes were made — which weren’t good enough for the Department.
“These changes don’t resolve all of my issues or those of my buildings leadership,” she wrote.
After an interagency meeting at the White House on Saturday, the CIA produced the final version of the talking points, which did not include any references to the terrorist groups and previous security warnings.
On Wednesday, the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks gained new momentum with a high-profile Congressional hearing in which three State Department “whistleblowers” offered testimony.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified in January that she didn’t have any input in the drafting of the talking points.
“I wasn’t involved in the talking points process,” she said. “As I understand it, as I’ve been told, it was a typical interagency process where staff, including from the State Department, all participated, to try to come up with whatever was going to be made publicly available, and it was an intelligence product.”
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said on “Morning Joe” Thursday that there was a “glaring problem” with State Department emails in the aftermath of the attacks. He said he couldn’t go into further detail, and it’s unclear if it’s related to the ABC report.
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