ABC News jumps into the shark tank and panders to the right wing base (hey, eyeballs are eyeballs) with an overheated report on the Benghazi talking points that emerged in the immediate aftermath of the attack on the CIA’s outpost: Exclusive: Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12 Revisions, Scrubbed of Terror Reference.
ABC’s “exclusive” appears to be the mind-blowing fact that government talking points aren’t written off the cuff. That they are often subject to revisions, and sometimes inter-agency politics comes into play.
Does anyone seriously think this is news?
But the detail that’s spurring the right wing blogosphere to new heights of hysteria and conspiracy-mongering: a reference to Al Qaeda was removed. In the feverish wingnut imagination this is proof of …. something nefarious by that Obama guy.
Like the final version used by Ambassador Rice on the Sunday shows, the CIA’s first drafts said the attack appeared to have been “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” but the CIA version went on to say, “That being said, we do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” The draft went on to specifically name the al Qaeda-affiliated group named Ansar al-Sharia.
Once again, Nuland objected to naming the terrorist groups because “we don’t want to prejudice the investigation.”
Of course, wingnut world knows better than to believe this flimsy excuse.
Greg Sargent’s piece hits the nail on the head; what these revisions actually do is confirm that Susan Rice simply echoed the assessment of the intelligence community.
Ben Armbruster makes another great point:
… Absent in ABC’s report is the key point that Obama and various members of his administration referred to the Benghazi assault as a terror attack on numerous occasions shortly after the incident (thereby negating the need to “scrub” any references in the talking points) and that then-CIA Director David Petraeus said the terrorist references were taken out to, as the New York Times reported, “avoid tipping off the groups” that may have been involved.
Moreover, an update the ABC report undermines the notion that Nuland’s motives were campaign related or political:
A source familiar with the White House emails on the Benghazi talking point revisions say that State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland was raising two concerns about the CIA’s first version of talking points, which were going to be sent to Congress: 1) The talking points went further than what she was allowed to say about the attack during her state department briefings; and, 2) she believed the CIA was attempting to exonerate itself at the State Department’s expense by suggesting CIA warnings about the security situation were ignored.
In other words, ABC’s “exclusive” reveals a turf battle, not some cover-up.
Yup. Another bombshell turns out to be a dud.