Defense & National Security

Issa: Petraeus said what Administration wanted

Issa: Petraeus said what Administration wanted

Rep. Darrell Issa’s hearings, along with the release of administration emails pertaining to those famous Benghazi talking points, conclusively demonstrate that the assault on Benghazi on Sept. 11 was never “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” which somehow “evolved” into an attack against that Libyan diplomatic post and its annex, as the administration has long contended. Nor did it have anything to do with some hateful anti-Islamic video, as Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton and President Obama kept incessantly repeating long after that tale was known to be false. It was, as testimony before Issa’s committee made clear, pre-planned by an Islamic terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda.

So here’s a critical question: how come the original talking points drafted by the CIA and the final talking points, approved by the CIA but massaged by State and the White House, kept stressing that the attack was not premeditated but “spontaneously inspired” by the Cairo demonstrations? How come that “fact” was incorporated into the comments by Susan Rice in her five TV talk shows on Sept. 16?

Republicans are going after Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the White House for tinkering with the talking points to hide State’s failure to beef up requested security in the area and obscure the role of the Islamic terrorist organization that launched the deadly attack. But shouldn’t they also closely question David Petraeus and deputy Michael Morell, who were involved in crafting and/or supporting the original and final talking points, both of which called the assault “spontaneously inspired”?

Here, for instance, is the first sentence in the first version of the talking points, compiled solely by the CIA on Sept. 14, 2012, at 11:15 a.m.: “We believe based on currently available information that the attacks on Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex.”

Here is the final version, drafted on Sept. 15 at 11:26 a.m. (and apparently the basis of Susan Rice’s TV explanation the next day):

“The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”

There were 12 different variations of those talking points, we are told, but the “spontaneously inspired” explanation was in each revision and featured as the first bullet point.

So surely we citizens– including voters, lawmakers and relatives of the murdered and the maimed–deserve to know precisely how the “spontaneously inspired” language, now considered to be utterly false, became incorporated in those original CIA talking points and why they remained in the final version as well? That means that then CIA director Gen. David Petraeus and top officials in his organization need to be subpoenaed to give detailed testimony. Rep. Issa’s disturbing remarks on “Meet the Press” (May 12) about why he thought the CIA director went along with the final revision has not been encouraging: “David Petraeus said what the administration wanted him to say.” (Emphasis added.)

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Here are other topics that need to be explored by Issa:

  • Why did Rice, Hillary and the President keep repeatedly saying that there was a hateful, anti-Islamic video involved? No mention of the video is mentioned in any of the 12 different versions of the talking points that have been published so far. So if it was not mentioned in the talking points, which were fine-tuned by the CIA, State and top national security figures, why did Susan Rice keep bringing it up in her TV appearances? Who provided her with that choice bit of information? And, of course, why did Hillary and Obama keep insisting the video was the problem?
  • Hillary’s culpability: The State Department’s Accountability Review Board, headed by Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, harshly faulted the department for not acting on requests for upgraded security in Benghazi. But Hillary, in congressional testimony, said she didn’t read an Aug. 16 cable from our murdered Ambassador Christopher Stevens urging strengthening of the security there and didn’t see any requests for additional security. “I didn’t see those requests,” she said. “They did not come to me. I did not approve them. I did not deny them.” As even the Washington Post suggested: Isn’t it reasonable to ask why those requests never reached her? Isn’t she responsible for that failure?
  • Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should be closely questioned as to why no military rescue mission of any type was allowed, even though it was urgently requested by Gregory Hicks, our ambassador’s No. 2 man.

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