May 16, 2013
After days of media leaks and back-and-forth wrangling about administration officials’ deliberations on talking points about the Benghazi attack, the White House late Wednesday released documents showing that both CIA and State Department officials pressed for the removal of all references to al-Qaeda and previous terror activity in Libya.
Among the 100 pages released is a draft of talking points being prepared for Congress and then public release about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, with extensive pen alterations by CIA deputy director Michael Morell.
Dated Sept. 14 but not time-stamped, the document shows that Morell wanted to strike sentences including an entire portion reading:
“The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al-Qaeda in Benghazi and eastern Libya. 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 that individuals had previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.”
Morell did not, however, make amendments to the part of the draft that linked the Benghazi attack to a demonstration at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo hours earlier (by Muslims purportedly enraged by an online video clip denigrating Mohammed.)