White House Releases Benghazi Email Dump

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The White House has released a dump of the email conversation that eventually produced the Benghazi talking points that were requested by Congress and then used by Susan Rice in her Sunday morning talk show interviews. The full set is here. Seven in particular struck me as interesting:

UPDATE: Amanda Terkel has more on State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland’s objection to including a paragraph about previous CIA warnings regarding the threat of extremists in Benghazi:

Senior administration officials on Wednesday said that Michael J. Morell, then the deputy director of the CIA, also wanted that line removed, separately from Nuland. Morell believed it was irrelevant to the message of the talking points — what happened in Benghazi — and unprofessional to include those warnings but not allow State Department officials to include how they had responded to them.

Separate from Wednesday’s document release, the CIA recently conducted an internal review of how and why the talking points were changed — a move that also came in response to the continuing questions from Congress. That review showed that many changes were made to the original talking points — drafted by a senior officer — over concerns about accuracy, an FBI investigation and other bureaucratic matters.

Senior administration officials, discussing that internal review, relayed that some CIA officials didn’t like that the original draft of the talking points said the government “know[s] that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack,” because at that time it was premature to name those responsible for the attacks.

Their concerns at other times were more mundane. For example, CIA officials also decided to change the phrase “attacks in Benghazi … evolved into a direct assault against the US Consulate” to “demonstrations in Benghazi” because they believed “attacks” and “assault” were synonymous, making the phrase illogical.

CIA officers also removed the reference to al Qaeda in order not to prejudge the outcome of a FBI investigation into the incident. A reference to another terrorist group, Ansar al-Sharia, was left in, but later removed at the request of the State Department; the CIA agreed with that decision, again so as not to hinder the FBI investigation.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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