- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has scheduled a vote Tuesday on the nomination of White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan to be CIA director, moving the embattled pick one step closer to confirmation by the full Senate.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and committee chairwoman, “intends to hold the Brennan vote on March 5,” a Feinstein aide told The Washington Times by email.

Mrs. Feinstein previously had wanted to schedule the vote for this week, other congressional staffers have said, but delayed it after committee members saw emails that showed Mr. Brennan’s role in drafting controversial “talking points” about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya.

White House officials told The Times on Wednesday that the emails show that Mr. Brennan played a minor role in drafting the talking points and none at all in making the changes that have infuriated Republicans. The emails will be shared next week with the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.


Mr. Brennan “suggested two minor edits that were stylistic,” White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told The Times in an email. “Neither edit made its way into the CIA’s final product.”

Many in the U.S. intelligence community were convinced early on that the military-style assault was probably the work of al Qaeda-linked extremists.

But the talking points — prepared three days after the event — did not call the attack an act of terrorism, and a reference to the attackers’ al Qaeda link was removed. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice cited that incorrect information in Sunday TV talk show appearances on Sept. 16.

Officials have said the changes were made within the intelligence community to protect sources and methods because the evidence of the link to al Qaeda came from highly classified electronic eavesdropping techniques.

But Republicans have contended that the al Qaeda link was deleted because it undermined President Obama’s election campaign message that the terror network was decimated.