Benghazi Boogalo: The Benghazi Talking Points, as They Evolved
According to ABC News, the government talking points on the situation in Benghazi went through eleven versions prior to their final release. We’ve created an interactive tool allowing you to walk through each individual change.
After the attack on the American embassy in that Libyan city on September 11, 2012, the CIA developed an initial outline describing what it knew about the situation, which is the initial draft you see below. That outline was then reviewed by the State Department, and went through a number of iterations before being distributed to members of Congress and used by the Susan Rice, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, in appearances on Sunday morning talk shows on September 16.
Where possible, we’ve included context describing why the change was made and who requested it, as reported by ABC. That context appears beneath each draft, in italics.
Truth has been the watchword of the Benghazi controversy. “The goal here is to get to the truth,” said House Speaker John Boehner said at a Thursday press conference. “Four Americans lost their lives. Their families want to know the truth. The American people want to know the truth. And I believe it is Congress’ obligation to get to the truth.” The truth may indeed be out there, but where it lies depends on who you ask.
For more mainstream Republicans and commentators, the Benghazi controversy is as obvious — the Obama Administration spun the attacks on Sunday talk shows in a way that would minimize political fallout in the middle of a presidential election — as it is tedious. With the release of all 12 drafts of talking points used for those Sunday shows (you can view how they evolved here), the heart of the scandal is whether bureaucrats talked about a tragedy properly. Did the State Department use the word “terrorists” behind the scenes? Is the word “extremists” close enough?