New evidence suggests senior White House officials knew the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, that left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others dead was not the result of a spontaneous protest, The Weekly Standard reports.
In the publication's May 13 issue, reporter Stephen F. Hayes includes three versions of the talking points that have become central to critics alleging a possible cover-up.
Hayes reports that the CIA's station chief in Libya sent a cable one day after the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, saying that eyewitnesses confirmed Islamic militants had participated and that the event was a terrorist attack.
"It was this fact, along with several others, that top Obama officials would work so hard to obscure," Hayes writes.
The original version of the talking points uses the term "attacks" while the second version softens the term to "demonstrations."
The third and final revision, used by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on all five Sunday morning talk shows, retains the word "demonstrations" and cuts the original six points down to three, including two that simply note that information may change as more facts are gathered and that the U.S. is working with the Libyan government to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersburger, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee asked for talking points so members of Congress could discuss the issue without revealing classified information.
The CIA then crafted a draft of the talking points and emailed it to various parties for revision. That original draft said that the government “know[s] that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in the attack."
Several versions of the talking points were emailed around for revision, with various changes made, but State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, was concerned Congress might use them to criticize the State Department for "not paying attention to Agency warnings."
But even after further revisions, Nuland said several of her superiors were unhappy.
No version of the talking points ever mentioned the anti-Islam YouTube video that Rice, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama repeatedly blamed for inciting the "demonstration" that ended in four American deaths.
The House Oversight Committee will hold hearings beginning Wednesday on what happened within the U.S. government in the aftermath of the attacks.
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