"This is an effort to accuse the administration of hiding something we did not hide," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Friday at the daily briefing. "All of this is a distraction from key issues."
As ABC News reported early Friday, the White House and State Department edited CIA Benghazi talking points 12 different times and eliminated all references to terrorism and al Qaeda in the process. When questioned, Carney said this was simply a "stylistic" edit and blamed the CIA.
"These were intelligence community talking points," Carney said.
The initial version of unedited talking points were from the CIA and included warnings about terrorism, al Qaeda and a lack of security at the consulate in Benghazi. The best assessment sent from the intelligence community included multiple warnings about the deteriorating security situation in Benghazi. The final talking points with scrubbed references to terrorism and al Qaeda were edited by the State Department after communication and a meeting in the White House. Carney claimed the only editing the White House did of the talking points was replacing the word "consulate" with "facility."
Carney tried to argue that the administration told the public about a demonstration as a result of YouTube video in the "immediate aftermath" of the attacks and then corrected the information once it changed. Carney argued the White House didn't want to "speculate" about what happened and said information about what the administration "knew" was given to the public. These statements are demonstrably false for many reasons.
(1) Carney's claim that the administration only pushed information about a YouTube video sparking a protest that led to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi until new information was given, is false. Jay Carney himself specifically said on September 14, 2012 "this was a response to a YouTube video," three days after the attack. The same day, Hillary Clinton stood in front of the flag draped caskets of dead Americans arriving home from Benghazi and blamed a YouTube video. Five days after the Benghazi attack (and five five days after Hillary Clinton was told by Hicks from Libya that this was an attack), UN Ambassador Susan Rice went on five different Sunday shows and claimed this was a situation of a protest raging out of control over a YouTube video. On September 25, 2012, 15 days after the attack, President Obama went to the United Nations and blamed the YouTube video. On January 23, 2013, four months after the attack, Hillary Clinton said, "The fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest? Or was it because a group of guys decided to go for a walk one night and kill some Americans. What difference at this point does it make?" The Obama administration has never directly admitted there was no protest.
(2) Whistleblower and deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya Greg Hicks said in sworn testimony Wednesday that he received a phone call in Benghazi from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at 2 a.m. on September 11, 2012. During this phone call he said "we are under attack." He did not mention a protest nor did he mention a YouTube video. Further, before he was killed and dragged through the streets of Benghazi, Ambassador Chris Stevens called Hicks and said, "We are under attack." Again, no mention of a protest outside of the consulate and no mention of a video. What the administration "knew" was that this was a terrorist attack as it was happening yet told the public for months the incident was a result of a protest getting out of control.
(3) Carney claimed the White House didn't want to speculate about what happened yet immediately blamed a YouTube video, "The Innocence of Muslims," for the attack while armed guards stormed the home of the video's maker in the middle of the night and hauled him off to jail. He's still in jail, by the way.
Throughout the briefing, Carney tried to down play the change in talking points as "just talking points" and not policy. Carney repeatedly blamed Republicans for politicizing the Benghazi tragedy, blamed President Bush and even blamed former GOP President nominee Mitt Romney for releasing a statement about the attack when it happened last year.
When asked whether the Obama administration should have handled Benghazi differently, Carney said, "No."
I'll leave you with this from Greg Hicks:
The White House held an off-the-record briefing with reporters on Friday afternoon to discuss recent revelations about the Benghazi investigation, sources familiar with the meeting tell POLITICO. The meeting began around 12:45 p.m. and postponed the daily, on-the-record White House press briefing to 1:45 p.m. White House press secretary Jay Carney did not respond to a request for confirmation of the meeting. The off-the-record session was announced to reporters in the wake of an ABC News report showing that White House and State Dept. officials were involved in revising the now-discredited CIA talking points about the attack on Benghazi.
Just how "over" is the Benghazi saga? Not very, it seems. Oh boy:
The CIA’s talking points, the ones that went out that Friday evening, were distributed via email to a group of top Obama administration officials. Forty-five minutes after receiving them, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressed concerns about their contents, particularly the likelihood that members of Congress would criticize the State Department for “not paying attention to Agency warnings.” CIA officials responded with a new draft, stripped of all references to Ansar al Sharia. In an email a short time later, Nuland wrote that the changes did not “resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership.” She did not specify whom she meant by State Department “building leadership.” Ben Rhodes, a top Obama foreign policy and national security adviser, responded to the group, explaining that Nuland had raised valid concerns and advising that the issues would be resolved at a meeting of the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee the following morning. The Deputies Committee consists of high-ranking officials at the agencies with responsibility for national security?—?including State, Defense, and the CIA?—?as well as senior White House national security staffers.
Credibility: The White House has long maintained that the talking points were drafted almost exclusively by the CIA, a claim that gave cover to both President Obama and his potential successor, Clinton. “Those talking points originated from the intelligence community,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in November, adding that the only editing by the White House or the State Department was to change the word "consulate" to "diplomatic facility." The emails prove him wrong. Significant edits were made to the talking points after a meeting at the White House the day before Rice's appearance on five Sunday shows, said the official familiar with Nuland's thinking, who added that she did not attend the meeting. As I wrote yesterday (“Why Benghazi is a Blow to Obama and Clinton"), Obama has earned the trust of most Americans but credibility is a fragile thing.
Throw Hillary under the bus? In a statement to ABC, Carney notably insulates the West Wing and not the State Department by saying “the only edits made by anyone here at the White House were stylistic and nonsubstantive.” And, with no apparent regard to hypocrisy, Carney criticized the GOP for attempting to “politicize the talking points.”
Drip, drip, drip: There is almost certainly more to come....
President Obamam had just wrapped up an event at the White House touting ObamaCare. The theme? Mother's Day of course. And who was in the audience? Representatives from Planned Parenthood on behalf of "women's health."
That's right, the country's largest abortion provider, eliminating hundreds of thousands of lives and mothers each year, was at Obama's side while he falsely claimed ObamaCare has been good for women..
As a reminder, 92 percent of pregnant women who walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic walk out unpregnant.
92 percent of pregnant women going to Planned Parenthood get abortions while a handful get prenatal support or adoption referrals. Although Planned Parenthood likes to talk about getting hundreds of millions in federal funding for family planning, the numbers show abortions are up while contraception services are down.
The idea that Planned Parenthood celebrates Mother's Day in any way is appauling and disgusting.
Congrats, fellow paranoiacs -- you were right. The AP reports:
The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status, a top IRS official said Friday. Organizations were singled out because they included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.
"That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That's not how we go about selecting cases for further review," Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association. "The IRS would like to apologize for that," she added. Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias. After her talk, she told The AP that no high level IRS officials knew about the practice. Agency officials found out about the practice last year and moved to correct it, the IRS said in a statement. The statement did not specify when officials found out.
Let me see if I'm understanding this correctly. We're told that (a) "low level" IRS workers in Cincinnati established the practice of deliberately flagging "tea party" and "patriot" groups for further scrutiny, (b) this was somehow not "motivated by political bias," and (c) zero IRS higher-ups were aware that this was going on. What a tale. Did this become a national policy, or was it limited to southwest Ohio? The story linked above says that 75 different conservative groups were affected by this supposedly "grassroots" IRS procedure. Also, if the IRS brass discovered the malfeasance last year (coincidentally, an election year), why is the public just finding out about it now? And how can they make the "no political bias" claim with a straight face when it appears that only groups on the Right were ensnared by this? In any case, heads will have to roll over this, right? Wrong:
IRS on conf call saying no disciplinary action against employees who targeted tea party groups for extra scrutiny.— Karen Tumulty(@ktumulty) May 10, 2013
The senior IRS official briefing the press just said: "I'm not good at math."— Zachary A. Goldfarb (@Goldfarb) May 10, 2013
“Today’s acknowledgement by the Obama administration that the IRS did in fact target conservative groups in the heat of last year’s national election is not enough. Today, I call on the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not underway at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views. Last year, amid reports that the Obama administration was using the levers of executive power to harass conservative political groups in Kentucky and elsewhere, I issued a very public warning to the administration that the targeting of private citizens on the basis of their political views would not be tolerated. Today’s apology by the IRS is proof that those concerns were well founded. But make no mistake, an apology won’t put this issue to rest. Now more than ever we need to send a clear message to the Obama Administration that the First Amendment is non-negotiable, and that apologies after an election year are not an sufficient response to what we now know took place at the IRS. This kind of political thuggery has absolutely no place in our politics.”
MSNBC bailing on the White House before more Benghazi secrets appear. "Looks terrible" indeed.
Guests in video: Michael Tomasky (The Daily Beast), Ben Smith (Buzzfeed), Nia-Malika Henderson (Washington Post). Luke Russert is the guest host for Alex Wagner.
As we've seen in numerous polls over the last two years, opposition to abortion isn't merely a "mainstream" American position. It's a majority one. Gallup's new national survey on the question is packed with fascinating data. Especially interesting is the break-down of public opinion split among four options: Abortion should be always legal, legal in "most" circumstances, legal "only in a few" circumstances, or never legal. The former two viewpoints represent the traditional "pro-choice" stance. The latter two are where the "pro-life" movement plants its policy flag. A few highlights from the findings:
(1) On the nominal "pro-life" vs. "pro-choice" question, pro-lifers narrowly outnumber the other side, 48-45.
(2) Fully 58 percent of adults say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, or only permitted in "a few." Just 39 percent say the practice should be legal in "all" or "most" circumstances.
(3) On that same question, 57 percent of women adopt a pro-life view; 40 percent adopt the more doctrinaire "pro-choice" position, which is supposed to be the official stance of their entire gender.
(4) Millenials (aged 18-34) are the most likely group to believe abortion should be outlawed in all circumstances. Overall, 57 percent of these young voters select one of the pro-life options.
(5) By partisan break-down, 59 percent of independents oppose abortion in all or most cases, as do 43 percent of Democrats. The pro-life positions are adopted by 78 percent of Republicans.
(6) Seventy-four percent of the public is paying little or no attention to the trial of late-term abortionist and accused serial killer Kermit Gosnell. A paltry 25 percent are paying "very" or "somewhat" close attention.
(7) Pluralities believe the media isn't giving the Gosnell case sufficient coverage, though a majority admits it doesn't know enough to say either way. Kermit Gosnell is still an unknown among most of the populace. One wonders how people's abortion views might shift if they were made aware of the horrors that took place at his Philadelphia clinic.
Keep these statistics tucked away for the next time someone who supports taxpayer-funded, late-term abortion-on-demand tries to cast pro-lifers as "extreme." Also, be sure to read this post about how the Cleveland kidnapper is being charged with the deaths of five unborn children. One of his captives became pregnant five times; he beat her stomach until she miscarried in each case. Because those were "wanted" unborn children, their killer faces multiple charges, making him eligible for the death penalty. But if those unborn children had been poisoned and suctioned out by an abortionist, it would have been perfectly legal. Should the "wantedness" of a child determine her humanity?
UPDATE - Per the Susan B. Anthony List, Gallup also notes that overwhelming majorities of Americans oppose late-term abortions; 80 percent reject third trimester abortions, and 64 percent do the same in the second trimester. This is why Live Action's ongoing expose is so important.
For months we've seen the vast majority of media outlets ignoring Benghazi but after sworn whistleblower testimony completely contradicted Obama administration talking points earlier this week, editors are finally starting to pay attention. Up until this point, newsrooms have used excuse that the investigation into the terrorist attack is simply a "Republican witch hunt" and therefore isn't newsworthy.
The BBC's North American Editor Mark Mardell wrote in a post this morning that he believes "heads will roll" after seeing the report from ABC News this morning that the White House and State Department changed the Benghazi talking points 12 times, purposely eliminating all references to terrorism and al Qaeda in the process.
In the interests of full disclosure I have to say I have not in the past been persuaded that allegations of a cover-up were a big deal. It seemed to me a partisan attack based on very little.
I remember listening to reports from the BBC and others at the time that did suggest the attack in Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction to a rather puerile anti-Islamic video.
The new documents contain two rationales for the changes in language. The first is that it would prejudice the FBI investigation.
Perhaps, but I am not at all persuaded.
The other reason given, old-fashioned butt-guarding, is more credible.
As Ms Nuland puts it, such a report "could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?"
However you read the motives, the state department and apparently the White House did get the CIA to change its story.
This is now very serious, and I suspect heads will roll. The White House will be on the defensive for a while.
Meanwhile, the White House press briefing for today has been delayed as press secretary Jay Carney desperately searches for talking points to defend the Obama administration's falsified talking points on Benghazi.
When I took Hillary Rodham Clinton to task in January for the mishandling of security in Benghazi, Libya, I told her that if I had been president at the time, I would have relieved her of her post. Some politicians and pundits took offense at my line of questioning.
During those hearings, I reminded Mrs. Clinton that multiple requests were sent to the State Department asking for increased security measures. I asked if she had read the cables from Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens asking for increased security. She replied that she was busy and had not read them. I find that inexcusable.Paul is expected to run for President in 2016. Considering Clinton has already left her position as Secretary of State, she can't resign however, that doesn't mean she can't be held accountable by Congress and the American people should she decide to run for president in 2015.
This week's revelations have only prompted more questions. Why have there been no arrests, eight months after the fact? Why did State Department leaders deny requests for increased security, even as attacks on Western targets in Benghazi were escalating? Why were two stand-down orders issued to the reinforcements in Tripoli, and who made that call? And who was responsible for the bowdlerized, dishonest "spontaneous protest" talking points -- which were disseminated even after Sec. Clinton herself was made explicitly aware of the true nature of the attack as it transpired? (Also, what massive, classified "omission" was Sen. Tom Coburn talking about here?) To treat the 9/11 Benghazi assault as a proxy fight in a distant election is to ignore the importance and relevance of all of these questions. As I noted in the clip, Sec. Clinton has more to answer for than ever before, on a number of fronts -- from the lax security presence, to the talking points, to the intimidation and demotion of Greg Hicks. But the biggest political risk she presently faces is an issue of legacy management. If Benghazi leaves an indelible stain on her tenure at State, Clinton's strong approval ratings will be exceedingly susceptible to erosion. Indeed, it was Clinton's desire to avoid questions about her preparedness that may have prompted the false talking points in the first place. There's another interesting element to the political side of this story that I barely grazed at the very end of the interview. In 2008, Hillary Clinton's campaign released an attack ad implying that Barack Obama wasn't prepared to field an emergency "3 am phone call" due to his lack of experience:
I mentioned above that Clinton received a 2 am phone call of her own from Benghazi, and botched it. (Where was Obama? We still don't know). But there's another layer to this irony. Do you recall which surrogate Team Obama dispatched to respond to Hillary's attack at the time? That would be their trusted foreign policy aide...Susan Rice, who argued that Obama and Clinton were "both not ready" to handle that hypothetical 3 am call:
The Benghazi phone calls weren't hypothetical, and you know something? Susan Rice was absolutely right back then -- as the very existence of her own falsified talking points last September demonstrated in stark relief.
Being from the Southwest I can't help but be a Mexican food lover but, according to a Latino student group at Northwestern University, loving tacos and tequlia is offensive to Mexicans. More from the DC:
Northwestern University continued to stumble over diversity issues this week as Mexican students voiced disagreement with a campuswide letter that advised students not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo by engaging in racially-offensive activities, such as eating tacos and drinking tequila.
The letter was sent to students via e-mail, and published in The Daily Northwestern last week. Leaders of Alianza, a Latino student group, and the Associated Student Government called on students to remember that Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla. It is not a day to throw a sombrero-themed party, they said.
“Some of our peers choose to throw ‘Mexican-themed’ parties that are culturally insensitive, offensive, and detrimental to the Northwestern community,” said the letter, which noted that this was a problem year after year. “Drinking tequila shots, eating tacos, and wearing sombreros do not commemorate Mexican culture; on the contrary, that offends, marginalizes, and isolates many of our friends, classmates, and community members, and casts our entire community in poor light.”
Poor light? Really? The good news Northwestern students from Mexico aren't buying this crap.
Their recommendations were quite a shock to Northwestern students who actually came from Mexico. Several of them fired back recently.
“I’d like to say that I proudly embrace my tacos, tequila and sombreros,” wrote Ruben Antonio Marcos Bours, a Northwestern student, in a statement. “To me, they are a key part of my childhood, growing up in Monterrey, Mexico.”
It's Friday, I think I'll have tacos for dinner.