CBS: CIA talking points for Rice never mentioned terrorism

posted at 1:01 pm on November 15, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

It seems interesting this CBS scoop comes shortly before both the current and former directors of the CIA will testify as to what they know about the terrorist attack on our consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi.  Why, it’s almost as if someone at the White House or State Department wanted to follow up on Barack Obama’s defense of Susan Rice during yesterday’s press conference and pre-empt any potential fallout from whatever Mike Morell and David Petraeus have to say today and tomorrow.

Naah.  I’m sure this is just another in the series of amazing coincidences regarding timing of revelations over the last nine weeks in the Benghazi story.

CBS News has obtained the CIA talking points given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on Sept. 15 regarding the fatal attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, four days earlier. CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan says the talking points, which were also given to members of the House intelligence committee, make no reference to terrorism being a likely factor in the assault, which left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead.

Rice, who was considered a likely nominee to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, has been attacked by Republican lawmakers for saying on “Face the Nation” (video) on Sept. 16 that all indications were the attack “began spontaneously” – suggesting it likely sprang from a protest against an anti-Muslim video found on the Internet. Protests of that nature had been seen in other Muslim nations in the days and weeks before the Benghazi attack.

“Available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault… There are indications that extremists participated,” read the CIA’s talking points.

This probably works better as a defense for Rice than claiming she never said that the attack sprang from a spontaneous demonstration, which CBS rebuts tacitly while Sean Higgins demolishes it in detail for the Washington Examiner.  If that’s what the CIA told her, and she had no access to any other information, then it does explain why Rice told a false story about what turned out to be a terrorist attack from the very beginning … on the anniversary of 9/11, no less.

Why wouldn’t she have had access to other information?  Because Rice had no operational responsibility for anything other than relations with the United Nations.  So why did the “White House,” as Obama put it yesterday, ask her to go on five talk shows on Sunday to impart this story to the media and the public?  That request had to come from Obama himself, and it bypassed other more likely candidates for that assignment such as Tom Donilon, James Clapper, Hillary Clinton, or David Petraeus, all of whom had some responsibility for the incident.  And here’s a related question — why didn’t those five media outlets raise that very question when the “White House” offered Rice as a spokesperson for that explanation?  Didn’t that seem even a little curious – especially when the Libyan President was saying exactly the opposite?


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