John Nolte @ Big Peace:
It now looks as though the White House’s excuse for the pre-election Libya cover-up is itself a cover up. Last week we were told by the Administration (and the compliant media) that during her now-infamous round robin of five Sunday news shows, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was only telling us what she was told by the intelligence community. We were also told that references to al-Qaeda were edited out of the talking points in order to avoid tipping off the attackers that we were on to them. According to a number of CBS News’ sources, this simply isn’t true.
As recently as yesterday, though, Rice doubled down on this defense:
“I relied soley and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.”
At first glance, Rice’s comments might not appear to move the ball, but they do tell us that the Administration has found its defense and intends to stick to it — that defense being that Rice was only parroting the false information she was given. But now, thanks to some good reporting from CBS News, we know things weren’t that simple.
Let’s back up just a little bit…
Last week, former CIA Chief Davis Petraeus testified that within a day he knew the assault on our consulate in Benghazi was a premeditated terrorist attack committed by a Libyan militia with ties to al-Qaeda. As a result, Petraeus authorized the release of this information to the public in talking points to be given to the White House and to lawmakers. CBS News reports that references to al-Qaeda were later removed by Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) — an agency run by James Clapper, an Obama appointee. The FBI also made substantial edits.
But here’s where the plot thickens.
DNI spokesman Shawn Turner told CBS News, “The intelligence community assessed from the very beginning that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.” He added that this classified information was shared with the White House. CBS News then quite correctly concludes that as a member of Obama’s cabinet, Susan Rice would would’ve known this. All cabinet members are given classified briefings.
The bottom line, then, is that during her Sunday show appearances, Rice knew the information she was spreading was false.
In reference to the edited talking points, another source told CBS News that… [emphasis added]
“The points were not, as has been insinuated by some, edited to minimize the role of extremists, diminish terrorist affiliations, or play down that this was an attack,” the official tells CBS News, adding that there were “legitimate intelligence and legal issues to consider, as is almost always the case when explaining classified assessments publicly.”
“Most people understand that saying ‘extremists’ were involved in a direct assault on the mission isn’t shying away from the idea of terrorist involvement,” added the official. “Because of the various elements involved in the attack, the term extremist was meant to capture the range of participants.”
This is important because if the talking points were not edited “to minimize the role of extremists,” that, then, was a decision Susan Rice made all on her own (with likely prompting from the White House ). The same goes for White House spokesman Jay Carney and the President himself, both of whom would spend nearly two weeks spinning this same false narrative.