NPR : News

White House Denies Any 'Substantive' Edits To Benghazi Memo

The White House says it made only minimal changes to the now-discredited talking points used to discuss the deadly attack last year on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

The remarks, by White House press secretary Jay Carney, came in response to an ABC News exclusive on Friday that detailed changes to a memo used by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to discuss the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, attack in the days after it happened.

Rice's remarks on several Sunday morning talk shows days after the attack, in which she wrongly characterized them as germinating from protests sparked by a YouTube video offensive to Muslims, have long been called out by Republicans and were fodder for the 2012 campaign.

On Friday, ABC reported that it had obtained 12 different versions of the talking points contained in a series of emails "that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack."

At a news conference on Friday, Carney disputed the assertion that the emails reveal substantive changes at the behest of the White House or State Department.

He said the only edit to the talking points made at the request of the administration was "a matter of nonsubstantive factual correction" that involved changing the word "consulate" in reference to the U.S. compound in Benghazi to "diplomatic post".

Carney also reiterated that President Obama, in his first public remarks on the attack, referred to it as an "act of terror."

However, the emails reportedly show excised references to al-Qaida and Ansar al-Sharia, the group ultimately blamed for the attack.

"The concern was the points not provide information that was speculative," Carney told reporters. He said that at the time, it was only speculation that Ansar al-Sharia was involved and that the administration did not know that "concretely."

The talking points were originally written for Congress. But before Congress got them, references to terrorism and to prior warnings of a possible attack were deleted.

ABC reports that an email from State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland shows that she was "concerned" that a section of the talking points saying the U.S. could not rule out that the attackers "previously surveilled U.S. facilities" would 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?"

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Star Wars' Editors Defy Hollywood Conventions

In a film industry often dominated by men, there's at least one exception: Many editors are women. Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey speak about their work on the new Star Wars.
NPR

Florida Says Its Fruits, Vegetables Are Safe From Invasive Fruit Fly

Since September, Florida has been fighting an infestation of the Oriental fruit fly, an invasive pest that threatened more than 400 crops. The state declared the insect eradicated as of Saturday.
NPR

The Senate Battle That Looms For Scalia's Replacement

NPR's Domenico Montanaro discusses the upcoming battle on Capitol Hill on replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
NPR

Colonialism Comment Puts Facebook Under Scrutiny

A Facebook board member lambasted a decision by regulators in India, the social network's second-largest market. He thereby sparked new scrutiny of Facebook's intentions in that country.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.