The media doesn’t seem at all that eager to start connecting the dots coming out of the unfolding Libya hearings today, but if you look around and gather your own dots, things start to connect.
And now, thanks to a little nugget buried in a CBS News’ report, we know that the State and Justice Departments were part of the “inter-agency process” that vetted the controversial CIA talking points given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice prior to her Sept 16 appearance on all five Sunday news shows.
Over the last 48 hours, those same CIA talking points have been used by the White House (and a compliant media) to defend Rice from charges that she knowingly misled the media and the American people when a full five days after the September 11 anniversary attack she not only insisted the attack on our consulate was spurred by spontaneous protest, but also insisted that there “no evidence” the attack was premeditated.
Republican Rep. Peter King told reporters today that during his testimony this morning, ex-CIA Chief David Petraeus told the committee that the talking points that left his office did include the information that no small amount of evidence pointed to an al-Qaeda affiliated militia being behind the attack. This makes perfect sense because Petraeus also testified that within 24 hours — or four days before Rice’s Sunday appearances — that he himself believed Libya was a full-blown terror attack.
This means that somewhere along the line, that crucial (and ultimately true) fact was removed, and the talking points were edited and watered down to focus solely on a narrative that put the blame on a spontaneous protest.
The question now is, who edited these talking points to fit the growing White House narrative about a spontaneous protest by removing the crucial information that pointed to a terrorist attack?
CBS News says the State and Justice Departments are part of the CIA talking point vetting process:
House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told reporters that Petraeus insisted today that he was clear with Congress from the start that the event was a terrorist attack. However, King added, Petraeus said that after the CIA prepared its talking points, they were vetted by agencies including the Justice Department and the State Department, but “no one knows yet exactly who came up with the final talking points.”
“The original talking points prepared by the CIA were different than the final ones put out,” King said. Originally, he said, they were “much more specific on al Qaeda involvement.”
One of the pieces of the puzzle nearly forgotten in all of this is that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was just as wedded to the “spontaneous protest” narrative as the Obama White House. What’s interesting about Eric Holder’s Justice Department being part of the vetting process is that there have been reports suggesting Holder knew of the investigation into Petraeus’s extra-marital affair long before the election, but claims he never told the president.
This of course allowed the president to claim honestly that he knew nothing of the scandal until the day after the election. In DC parlance, that’s called “plausible deniability.”
Both of these agencies and the heads of the agencies are deeply invested in protecting President Obama and ensuring his reelection. The information that a terrorist attack might have been responsible for the assassination of an American ambassador and four others just days after Obama declared al-Qaeda “decimated” at his convention speech, seems like the kind of thing the White House and its allies would want to downplay as much as possible.