Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee today received a classified briefing by an administration official on the various emails and documents assembled in the days after the September 11th attack in Benghazi. These emails were the precursor of the “talking points” which the administration then armed UN Ambassador Susan Rice and other officials with.
One source familiar with the briefing indicated that they did not believe the emails shed any new light on anything that was not already known and said the messages did not demonstrate an effort by the administration to deliberately downplay the role of “al Qai’da” or “terrorists.”
Republicans have charged the Obama Administration with deliberately misleading the public with regard to the attack in Benghazi when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was interviewed the Sunday after the attack and claimed the Benghazi attack was the result of protests that rose up, inspired by an inflammatory anti-Islam YouTube video.
Sources in the past have claimed that the talking points pushed by the Obama Administration in the wake of the attack were altered before Rice's appearance on national television in order to make it appear as if this was not a pre-planned terrorist attack:
The Obama administration has declined to directly answer who made the edits. And the nation's top intelligence officials appear either confused or not forthcoming about the journey their own intelligence took.
On Fri. Nov. 16, Petraeus told members of Congress that it wasn't the CIA that changed the talking points.
The White House and the State Department said it wasn't them.
The CIA then told CBS News that the edits were made at a "senior level in the interagency process." Intelligence officials said the references were dropped so as not to tip off al Qaeda as to what the U.S. knew, and to protect sources and methods.
Soon thereafter, another reason was given. A source from the Office of the Director for National Intelligence (ODNI) told CBS News' Margaret Brennan that ODNI made the edits as part of the interagency process because the links to al Qaeda were deemed too "tenuous" to make public.
In the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary and the five-month process that it's taken to receive these e-mails, some other Republicans are dropping their inquiries into Benghazi. Arizona Sen. John McCain has said he's satisfied with the information he's received:
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Thursday that the White House's response to his and other Republican senators' questions on the September attack in Benghazi, Libya was satisfactory... "I think it was an adequate response, yes," McCain said. "We are working on and having negotiations now trying to smooth this thing out and get it done."
As the Senate moves forward with confirmation votes on some of the Obama Administration's nominees for security posts - John Brennan's confirmation vote will occur Thursday - it remains to be seen if Republicans continue to press forward for more information from the Obama Administration regarding the terrorist attack that resulted in the deaths of four Americans.
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