Brave mainstream media journalists are finally doing what they always should be doing: report the story and let readers and viewers decide the truth for themselves. Today, ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl released their top story – the headline says it all: “Exclusive: Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12 Revisions, Scrubbed of Terror Reference.”
Karl obtained from his sources 12 different versions of the talking points, which he writes “show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows.”
Reviewing White House e-mails, Karl reports that “the edits were made with extensive input from the States Department” and, most importantly, that there were discussions “that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well as CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.”
Karl reveals clearly how White House press chief Jay Carney lied to the media at his press conference. Karl writes:
That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about the talking points in November.
“Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened,” Carney told reporters at the White House press briefing on November 28, 2012. “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”
Next, Karl presents the most shocking e-mail released so far: one from State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, who lets others in her shop know why the truth must be kept under wraps. Karl writes:
Summaries of White House and State Department emails – some of which were first published by Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard — show that the State Department had extensive input into the editing of the talking points.
State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland raised specific objections to this paragraph drafted by the CIA in its earlier versions of the talking points:
“The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”
In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned …”
The paragraph was entirely deleted. (my emphasis)
Later, Nuland also told others not to name any terrorist groups, as the CIA reports had done, because “we don’t want to prejudice the investigation.” How, one wonders, is letting all the facts be presented prejudicial in any way to finding out what happened? When changes were made that did not satisfy her, Nuland referred to the latest version as not satisfying “my building’s leadership.”
Who ordered Nuland to excise these in order to protect the State Department’s reputation? How high did it go? Was it Hillary’s top aide, or the secretary of State herself? What individual in “leadership” gave Nuland her arguments?
It is also brave of Karl to acknowledge the contribution to honest journalism of Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard. This is the first time to my recollection that a major TV network has praised the conservative journal and directly cited its top reporter.