Benghazi talking points e-mails a bust?

posted at 8:41 am on February 27, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee finally received yesterday what they had demanded for months — and it may have turned into an anti-climax. The White House allowed access to internal e-mails of the Obama administration regarding the preparation of talking points for Susan Rice after the attack on our Benghazi consulate, which some suspected would show that the Obama administration had changed the information to downplay terrorism as the basis of the attack.  According to Chad Pergram at Fox, though, the e-mails don’t show anything like that (via Kevin Glass):

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.”

They did, however, show CIA Director nominee John Brennan involved in the creation of those talking points:

President Obama’s pick to head the CIA was involved in crafting controversial talking points about last year’s attack in Benghazi, Republicans said Tuesday after viewing intelligence documents.

Lawmakers had vowed to block John Brennan’s nomination unless they got to see internal communications about how to describe the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Several said the email chain of several pages, which they’d been seeking for months, doesn’t change how they plan to vote either way.

“Brennan was involved,” Senate Intelligence Committee Vice-Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said after the briefing. “It’s pretty obvious what happened.”

“At the end of the day it should have been pretty easy to determine who made the changes and what changes were made.”

He described an “extensive, bureaucratic and frankly unnecessary process” that led to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations publicly linking the attack to a peaceful protest gone awry. Republicans have accused the White House of twisting the talking points to avoid harming Obama’s national security reputation ahead of the November elections.

If that was what the GOP hoped to find, it looks like — so far, anyway — they’ve come up empty.  Brennan’s involvement in crafting the talking points might make a case for incompetence as an excuse to oppose his confirmation, but Chuck Hagel just gave the all-time confirmation hearing flame-out, and he ended up cruising to success.  Brennan has served for decades in the intelligence business, and acquitted himself well in his earlier hearing, at least in terms of competence.

Chambliss is right about the “extensive, bureaucratic and frankly unnecessary process” that led to the Rice faceplant, but he’ll either have to hope that Brennan reforms it or it will creak along for another four years.  When the Senate votes on Brennan’s confirmation tomorrow, it will almost certainly be more lopsided in his favor than Hagel’s.


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There’s the ugly mug I want to see go down in flames.

Bmore on February 27, 2013 at 8:46 AM

And these emails couldn’t have been doctored. Nah. They came from the reputable and trustworthy Obama White House.

fogw on February 27, 2013 at 8:47 AM

So, is this guy Brennan a confirmed convert to islam?

Bmore on February 27, 2013 at 8:48 AM

So the administration who falsifies email addressees/names was tasked with providing truth regarding email communications? Got it.

hillsoftx on February 27, 2013 at 8:51 AM

Do you really think Obozo would release any documents that would shed any light on what they were looking for? Is it possible that their are emails that were not released, I think so. Remember, he offered this so they wouldn’t get documents on the drone program. That should tell you something.

Patriot Vet on February 27, 2013 at 8:52 AM

Wait until this genius gets to Congress and starts weighing in on National Security issues, and 2nd Amendment tyranny, and Welfare, and other entitlements.

Foreign affairs, and the dunces that run the agencies will seem like the least of our worries.

http://news.yahoo.com/anti-gun-democrat-shoo-replace-jackson-jr-032719983–politics.html

CHICAGO (AP) — The newly elected Democratic nominee to replace disgraced former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. vowed to become a leader in the fight for federal gun control and directly challenged the National Rifle Association in her victory speech.

But it remains to be seen if Robin Kelly’s primary win Tuesday night in the Chicago-area district, aided by a $2 million ad campaign funded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s super PAC, would fuel the national debate.

Kelly, a former state representative, emerged early as a voice for gun control in the truncated primary season after Jackson resigned in November. She gained huge momentum as Bloomberg’s super PAC poured money into anti-gun television ads in her favor that blasted one of her Democratic opponents, former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, for receiving a previous high rating from the NRA. Kelly supports an assault weapons ban, while Halvorson does not.

“We were on the right side of the issue and our message resonated,” Kelly told The Associated Press shortly after her win.

Kelly promised in her victory speech later Tuesday night to fight “until gun violence is no longer a nightly feature on the evening news” and directly addressed the NRA, saying “their days of holding our country hostage are coming to an end.”

Bloomberg called Kelly’s win an important victory for “common sense leadership” on gun violence, saying in a statement that voters nationwide are demanding change from their leaders.

PappyD61 on February 27, 2013 at 8:53 AM

This guy Brennan has a bad vibe.

Bmore on February 27, 2013 at 8:53 AM

So, is this guy Brennan a confirmed convert to islam?

Bmore on February 27, 2013 at 8:48 AM

I’d imagine most of the Democrats (and some Republicans) are enamored with the concept of taqiyya, where lying is no longer a sin. It’s tailor-made for the political elite.

Fallon on February 27, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Republicans are just waiting for the prestigious Louis Farrakhan endorsement to give them cover for their vote.

Until then, they will stand firm.

mudskipper on February 27, 2013 at 8:56 AM

Brennan’s involvement in crafting the talking points might make a case for incompetence as an excuse to oppose his confirmation

It’s not whether or not Brennan is incompetent, that goes to his boss. What president, when informed that one of his ambassadors is under attack, goes to bed because he has to fly to Las Vegas for a fundraiser the next day?

rbj on February 27, 2013 at 8:57 AM

“The White House allowed access to internal e-mails of the Obama administration”

Of course the internal e-mails don’t show much. What do the shadow sockpuppet e-mails show?

Dusty on February 27, 2013 at 8:58 AM

Fallon on February 27, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Good point. Unfortunately. ; )

Bmore on February 27, 2013 at 8:59 AM

If that was what the GOP hoped to find, it looks like — so far, anyway — they’ve come up empty.

God forbid the Senate GOP was just doing its job vetting a nominee without some ulterior motive of “hoping to find” stuff they can use against confirmation.

Happy Nomad on February 27, 2013 at 9:01 AM

Benghazi talking points e-mails a bust?**

**Sanitized for Obama’s protection

Liam on February 27, 2013 at 9:01 AM

For all the BS that has surrounded this issue, one fact has been made VERY clear.

They got it wrong.

Whether is was by groupthink with plenty of consultation and consideration, or as an individual’s kneejerk reaction.

THEY GOT IT WRONG.

Jabberwock on February 27, 2013 at 9:06 AM

I work for a maritime security company. On my last trip, I flew back from Cairo and bumped into a retired SF guy working for AFRICOM. He told me that there were two military personnel at the Embassy in Tripoli who were coordinating things with Benghazi, Tripoli and AFRCOM. The military guys in Tripoli were instructed to STAND DOWN from AFRICOM. They were on the plane, on the tarmac, and they were instructed (the military contingent) that they were not authorized to go. Neither of these military guys have been talked to. I don’t even know if Congress knows about them.

Patriot Vet on February 27, 2013 at 9:10 AM

They got it wrong.

Whether is was by groupthink with plenty of consultation and consideration, or as an individual’s kneejerk reaction.

THEY GOT IT WRONG.

Jabberwock on February 27, 2013 at 9:06 AM

Well, then there’s that little sticking point ^^^.

Fallon on February 27, 2013 at 9:12 AM

I’m still wondering about the claim that the “intelligence community” produced the dishonest “talking points”. I thought intelligence people produced reports and exhibits etc and then the Obama Campaign hacks would have twisted that information into “talking points”.

Has anybody questioned this, or does the intelligence community actually produce political talking points that presidential administrations just accept and read verbatim in public?

forest on February 27, 2013 at 9:13 AM

Brennan has served for decades in the intelligence business, and acquitted himself well in his earlier hearing, at least in terms of competence.

You can always count on Ed Morrissey to serve up garbage like this. Brennan is a seriously bad actor, much more dangerous than clowns like Hegel and Secy Kerry. Yet here’s Ed touting him over Hagel. Just pathetic.

We don’t need to be looking through White House emails to find clear evidence of obfuscation. Obama was caught red-handed doing just that in his interview with Steve Kroft this fall, during which, Kroft asserted to Obama that he had been very deliberate in not labeling the attack “terrorism” whereupon Obama responded by nodding in agreement and adding that they were still trying to get to the bottom of it. Obama then appeared on Letterman and Oparah and on both appearances, attempted to mislead about the true nature of the attack.

sartana on February 27, 2013 at 9:27 AM

And these emails couldn’t have been doctored. Nah. They came from the reputable and trustworthy Obama White House.fogw on February 27, 2013 at 8:47 AM

We’ll never know unless they request the original digits. Even then they could be doctored by an expert admin.

AH_C on February 27, 2013 at 9:32 AM

They need to release the emails between Daffy Duck and Porky Pig — the private email accounts they use when they don’t want anything to go on the record.

The Rogue Tomato on February 27, 2013 at 9:35 AM

So they demand all the emails and then settle for a briefing from the White House about the emails. Stupid Republicans. Of course, there was no media demanding the emails either, so nothing was ever going to come from this.

Aplombed on February 27, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Incompetence is a hallmark of the current administration.

GarandFan on February 27, 2013 at 10:39 AM

Obama, Hillary, Biden, Rice, Carney and the rest of them lied, pure and simple, to cover up their incompetence in allowing four Americans to be murdered by a pack of animals. And the media, through its dereliction of duty, is complicit in this crime after the fact.

There’s your story.

dpduq on February 27, 2013 at 11:08 AM

What this tells me is that Brennan was performing counter-intel operations against the American people.

jake49 on February 27, 2013 at 11:34 AM

Fine. I guess it turns out they organized their obfuscations via face to face meetings and unrecordered phone calls. Harder to trace those.

DaveDief on February 27, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Where are the Benghazi survivors? Not a single interview, video or print, after more than 5 months?

IcePilot on February 27, 2013 at 12:05 PM

I’m sure no one in the Obama administration would resort to using bogus email accounts and text messages. – Richard Windsor

OxyCon on February 27, 2013 at 1:43 PM