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Mrs. Feinstein said her staff has been instructed to get to the bottom of the matter and determine who is responsible.

“We are going to find out who made changes in the original statement. Until we do, I really think it’s unwarranted to make accusations,” she said.

Republicans have said they think administration officials changed the narrative because it ran counter to a major theme in President Obama’s re-election campaign: that al Qaeda had been decimated.

Mr. Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats, told “Fox News Sunday” that he does not see what the fuss is about.

“As I look at what we now know the intelligence community was saying that week, and I look at Ambassador Rice’s statements on television on the following Sunday morning, I don’t find anything inconsistent between those two,” he said.

Mrs. Rice, as the official who stuck longest and most vociferously to the talking points, has endured the brunt of Republican criticism, setting the stage for a potential confirmation battle in the Senate.

Mr. Obama reportedly is considering nominating Mrs. Rice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has said she wants to leave the administration and politics.

“The story [Mrs. Rice] told reinforced a political narrative helpful to the president,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican.

“[Mrs. Rice] is the most politically compliant person they could find. I don’t know what she knew, but I know the story she told was misleading,” said Mr. Graham, who is a member of the Senate intelligence and Armed Services committees.

Confusion and terminology

On Friday, Rep. Peter T. King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that former CIA Director David H. Petraeus told lawmakers in a closed-door session that the Sept. 11 assault on the consulate “was a terrorist attack and there were terrorists involved from the start.”

Mr. Petraeus visited Libya last month to interview survivors of the attack before resigning as CIA director this month.

Mr. King, New York Republican, noted that Mr. Petraeus’ testimony Friday differed from a classified briefing he gave lawmakers Sept. 14, three days after the attack, in which he linked it to protests earlier that day in Cairo against an American-made video denigrating Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

“The clear impression we were given [in the Sept. 14 briefing] was that the overwhelming amount of evidence was that it arose out of a spontaneous demonstration and it was not a terrorist attack,” Mr. King said, adding that Mr. Petraeus’ use of the word “spontaneous” was “minimized” in his account Friday.

“He had told us that this was a terrorist attack and there were terrorists involved from the start,” Mr. King said.

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