The CIA's station chief in Libya told his superiors that the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks were "not an escalation of anti-American protest," The Washington Times
reported, citing documents and interviews with current and former intelligence officials.
On Sept. 15, 2012, the unnamed former CIA Libya station chief conveyed the message in an email to then-Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell, according to the Times.
That was a full day before the White House sent Susan Rice, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to recite CIA-supplied talking points on news shows claiming the motivation for the attack was an anti-Islam video, the newspaper said.
On the 11-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, more than 100 gunmen opened fire on the American diplomatic mission, killing U.S Ambassador Christopher Stevens and another diplomat. The next day, a second attack at a nearby CIA annex killed two embassy security personnel.
The Benghazi talking points and Morell’s role in shaping the administration’s narrative are topics to be discussed at a Wednesday meeting of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Morell, who is scheduled to testify, has since left the CIA to work for Beacon Global Strategies, a strategic communications firm in Washington. Morell declined to comment to the newspaper.
According to the Times, a key issue to be addressed at the hearing is a series of secure teleconferences between CIA officials in Washington and Libya during the five-day period beginning at the time of the attack to the completion of Rice’s appearance on Sunday talk shows.
North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr told Fox News
in February that despite Morell’s claim that the talking points were intended only for informational purposes for the White House, emails later released prove otherwise.
"We found there was actual coordination which could influence them – and did influence – what CIA conveyed to the committees about what happened," Burr told Fox News.
The allegation against Morell is spelled out in a 16-page memo to a Senate Intelligence Committee report by six Senate Republicans, including Burr, who wrote that "No effort was made to correct the record ... the Acting Director's [Morell] testimony perpetuated the myth that the White House played no part in the drafting or editing of the talking points."
Intelligence officials gave the Times varying accounts of what took place in Benghazi.
One source told the Times that Morell did relay the Libya station chief’s information that there was no protest to the White House and the State Department, but the administration ignored the assessment.
Another source told the Times "conflicting information" was trickling in as the talking points were being written.
One source told the newspaper that CIA analysts had to weigh the station chief's information against media accounts from Benghazi quoting witnesses saying there had been a protest, as well as reporting by other intelligence divisions, including the National Security Agency.
Morell ultimately signed off on the false narrative given to Rice, according to the Times.
Republicans have accused the White House of ignoring the facts and using the bogus protest to mitigate damage to the president during an election year.
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