WASHINGTON — The FBI, CIA and other intelligence agencies — but not the White House — made major changes in talking points that led to the Obama administration's confusing explanations of the attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, a Senate report concluded Monday.
The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee report said the White House was only responsible for a minor change. Some Republicans had questioned whether the presidential staff rewrote the talking points for political reasons.
The committee, headed by independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, also said the director of national intelligence has been stonewalling the panel in holding back a promised timeline of the talking point changes.
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the Sept. 11 attack. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said she used the talking points to say in television interviews on Sept. 16 that it may have been a protest that got out of hand.
Rice's incorrect explanation may have cost her a chance to be nominated as the next secretary of state, as Senate Republicans publicly said they would not vote to confirm her.
The State Department this month acknowledged major weaknesses in security and errors in judgment exposed in a scathing independent report on the assault.
Testifying before two congressional committees, senior State Department officials acknowledged that serious management and leadership failures left the diplomatic mission in Benghazi woefully unprepared for the terrorist attack. The State Department review board's report led four department officials to resign.
The Senate report said that on Sept. 19, eight days after the attack, National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen told the Homeland committee that the four Americans died "in the course of a terrorist attack."
Olsen's acknowledgement was important, the report said, because talking points prepared by intelligence officials the previous week had undergone major changes.
A line saying "we know" that individuals associated with al-Qaida or its affiliates participated in the attacks was changed to say, "There are indications that extremists participated."
The talking points dropped the reference to al-Qaida and its affiliates altogether. In addition, a reference to "attacks" was changed to "demonstrations."
- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Child sex trafficking bust reveals worries...
- Georgia girl struck by plane on Florida beach...
- Democrats have million-dollar day on impeachment
- The Great War: 100 photos marking 100 years...
- Most Americans believe the U.S. should offer...
- Photos: UCLA wades through damage caused by...
- Obama to GOP: 'Stop just hating all the time'
- US Court: Virginia marriage is for all... 44
- Federal land managers criticized over... 26
- Obama maintains busy fundraising... 22
- Obama to GOP: 'Stop just hating all the... 21
- Most Americans believe the U.S. should... 21
- Fast food workers vow civil disobedience 18
- GOP-led House ready to OK lawsuit... 15
- Gaza sides agree to lull but truce... 13