Some of those who denounced the Wilson-inspired witch hunt are now repeating its tactics. First they focused on Rice, who was a leading candidate to be secretary of state before 97 House Republicans released a letter asserting that she “willfully or incompetently misled the American public.” When it became irrefutable that Rice had simply delivered a consensus estimate prepared by the intelligence community, the scandal-mongers shifted to how her “talking points” had supposedly been doctored by Clinton or White House political henchmen.
An investigation by House Republicans and reports in the Weekly Standard and ABC News purport to show how the talking points were edited over several drafts to remove references to the extremist militia Ansar al-Sharia and previous attacks in Benghazi. But this was not a cover-up. Instead, the changes were mainly the product of interagency tensions: State thought the CIA, which was mainly responsible for the Benghazi mission, was preempting an FBI investigation and trying to shift blame for the fiasco.
Meanwhile, by the ABC account, every draft of the talking points says that the attacks “were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault . . .” That’s what Rice said. It might have been wrong, but it was the intelligence assessment at the time. So what, exactly, is the scandal?