Politics
An armed man poses with his rifle as buildings and cars burn inside the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya, Sept. 11, 2012. Getty Images. An armed man poses with his rifle as buildings and cars burn inside the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya, Sept. 11, 2012. Getty Images.  

White House’s Benghazi email dump shows critical two-day gap, CIA objection

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The Benghazi-related emails released by the White House late May 15 exclude the critical emails between administration officials that were sent during the crucial first two days after the deadly jihadi attack that killed four Americans last September.

The 100 pages of partially redacted emails also conclude with a dismissive message from CIA chief David Petraeus.

“Frankly, I’d just as soon not use this,” Petraeus said about the heavily edited, four-sentence “talking points” that the White House used to downplay Al Qaeda’s role in the Sep. 11 attack on the poorly protected diplomatic compound.

“This release is long overdue [but] there are relevant documents the Administration has still refused to produce,” said a May 15 statement from Brendan Buck, press secretary to House Majority Leader John Boehner.

“We hope, however, that this limited release of documents is a sign of more cooperation to come,” he added.

The two-day gap — the first released email was sent 67 hours after the attack began — plus the Petraeus comment, undermines the White House’s explanation for the rewrite.

Officials, including spokesman Jay Carney, say CIA officials — not White House and State Department officials — rewrote a quick-reaction CIA report that had attributed the attack to an al-Qaeda affiliate.

“Even the smallest amount of scrutiny [shows the emails don’t] support their explanation,” said a May 15 tweet from Buck.

“The White House’s explanation appears NOWHERE in the actual [email] documents. Nowhere. Not even a hint of it,” Buck added.

After the attack, White House officials used the edited talking points to bolster repeated claims that the organized attack was an unpredictable, spontaneous violent riot by Libyans who were angry about a California-made YouTube video.

The little-known video was sharply critical of Mohammad, the central prophet in Islam.

The video was repeatedly cited by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the crisis, which began only eight weeks before the 2012 election.

GOP legislators plan to continue investigating the September cover-up of al-Qaeda’s role, and the current cover-up over the White House’s role in rewriting the CIA report.

GOP officials also say more whistleblowers will testify in Congress about the attackers and the White House’s failure to send reinforcements to the beleaguered U.S. diplomats and soldiers.

An interim House report into the cover-up “found that ‘senior State Department officials requested the talking points be changed to avoid criticism for ignoring the threat environment in Benghazi and that those changes were ultimately made,” said the Buck statement.

“Those findings are confirmed by the emails released today … [and] the seemingly political nature of the State Department’s concerns raises questions about the motivations behind these changes and who at the State Department was seeking them,” he concluded.

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