ABC News has posted twelve different versions of the Obama administration’s talking points on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sep. 11, 2012, showing that the White House and State Department did all they could to remove references to terrorism and to Al Qaeda–likely to deceive Congress and the public.
All twelve versions of the talking points, however, include some version of the false claim that “the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex.”
At one point, “attacks” became “demonstrations,” and “Consulate” became “diplomatic post.” Otherwise the wording remains the same throughout the twelve emails.
Yet we know, as a result of testimony before the House Oversight Committee this week, that diplomats saw no sign of “demonstrations” or even “spontaneous” attacks, and reported directly to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that night that they were under coordinated attack by heavily-armed terrorists.
Controversy thus far has centered on how the talking points were edited, by whom, and why. Yet the original talking points were themselves misleading. If they were prepared by the intelligence community, as has been indicated, then the intelligence was wrong, or it was politicized, or different parts of the administration were not sharing information with each other.
Regardless, the story was already wrong from the beginning–for reasons that remain unclear.