Benghazi Boils Over

Libya Consulate Attack

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Damaging new revelations continue to undermine the Obama administration as Congress prepares to resume hearings examining the response to the September 11, 2012, attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead including the U.S. ambassador.

There are new details that administration officials misled the public in its initial public assessments of the attack, withheld relevant information that may have been politically damaging, waged “subtle intimidation” campaigns against multiple government employees who sought to testify about the attack, and neglected evidence in its own internal investigation of the attack and its aftermath.

The new revelations, made ahead of next week’s House Oversight Committee hearing, have propelled the Benghazi issue back into the news cycle and reopened a politically uncomfortable wound for the White House and possible 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The CIA talking points on which administration officials relied during initial public interviews were edited multiple times to remove references to al Qaeda and terrorism at the behest of State Department and White House officials, according to emails obtained by congressional investigators.

Two of these officials were former State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland and White House national security official Ben Rhodes, the Weekly Standard reported Friday.

Nuland said her superiors were not happy with the talking points and were concerned Congress would use them against the State Department, according to the Standard. She did not name the superiors.

The emails were quoted in a recent congressional report suggesting former Secretary of State Clinton had an interest in downplaying the consulate attack since she had approved a plan to reduce security at the U.S. diplomatic missions in Libya in April 2012.

The talking points originally stated the government “know[s] that Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in the attack.” The final draft was reportedly edited to remove references to al Qaeda, and “Islamic extremists” was changed to just “extremists.”

The term “attack” was replaced with “demonstrations.”

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