On Friday Spokesman Patrick Ventrell announced that Gregory Hicks testimony concerning Susan Rice’s assertion that a protest caused the Benghazi attacks on Wednesday to Congress was not supported by the State Department. Ventrell said that Hicks’ claim that Rice contradicting the Libyan President caused a slow down in the investigation was inaccurate. Ventrell went on to say that Hicks’ implication that the FBI, which did not get on the scene of the attack for 18 days, could have secured the crime scene earlier was not true. Ventrell said that the reason the FBI was delayed was because of “security concerns.”
QUESTION: The main kind of charge that seems to – is that the CIA warned – says, anyway, in the original draft, in the first few drafts, like, seems to indicate that the CIA warned the State Department several times about a growing threat in al-Qaida, and kind of insinuates through these talking points that they said that they prepared, that the State Department ignored that warning. So did the CIA at any time warn the State Department about a growing Islamic threat in Islamist –
MR. VENTRELL: Well, again, I can’t get into intelligence assessments and how they were shared between agencies or relate the back-and-forth between us and the CIA in this regard. But what I said earlier – and I think you were just walking in, Elise – is that two things remained constant throughout. We always said that it was – in all versions of this, that it was extremists. And also, this notion of the protest was in the intelligence assessment from the beginning and through to the end. That was later – the intelligence community has talked about their updated information when they updated that assessment.
QUESTION: But –
MR. VENTRELL: And then I did also, while I have the opportunity, want to raise one other thing. And that is – and this is something that’s come up this week, this notion that Mr. Hicks had testified to that somehow the FBI investigation was slowed down as a result of these talking points. And I just wanted to take that – that’s another thing that I wanted to be very clear about, just to remind people that the Libyan Government granted visas to the FBI team on the day of those Sunday talk shows. They got their flight clearance the next day, and they arrived in Tripoli on September 18th. The reason they couldn’t travel to Benghazi was because of the security situation on the ground.
And I just want to point out to other people – and this is something that seems to have been lost in the back-and-forth – that – remind people that when he was with Secretary Clinton – this is the Libyan Prime Minister, in a joint press appearance on September 24th, about a week later up at UNGA, he made clear that they would do everything – whatever was necessary to expedite the investigation into the incident and to pursue and to bring justice those perpetrators. So we really reject that claim as well.