Emails reveal how accuracy was scrubbed out of Benghazi ‘talking points’

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That version did not assert there was a protest and said Islamic extremists linked to al Qaeda participated in the attack.

The word ‘demonstrations’ appears

At 4:42 p.m. inside the CIA, a major change happened.

The word “demonstrations” showed up twice in the first and second paragraphs of a draft as a fact that day in Benghazi. The words “al Qaeda” were removed. The emails do not indicate who inserted the pivotal word “demonstrations.”

Also added was the fact that the CIA sent a report Sept. 10 warning that jihadists were threatening to attack the embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11, the 11th anniversary of al Qaeda’s attacks on America.

Still included was the language that “Islamic extremists” were involved. Language that had been added underscored that the CIA had been warning in reports to the administration “on the threat of extremists linked to al Qaeda in Benghazi and eastern Libya.”

State gets on the email train

At 6:33 p.m., CIA public affairs sent the first draft to the State Department’s public affairs office, then headed by Victoria Nuland, whom Mr. Obama has since tapped as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, pending Senate confirmation.

A career diplomat, Ms. Nuland has served under Democratic and Republican presidents, and was a national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Ms. Nuland would play a major role in altering the document.

At 7:16 p.m., she asked the CIA how it knew extremists attacked.

At 7:39 p.m., she told the CIA and the White House that she did not want to blame Ansar al-Sharia. “Why do we want [Capitol] Hill to be fingering Ansar al Shariah, when we aren’t doing that ourselves?”

She also objected to the language on CIA warnings, saying the words “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings so why do we want to feed that either? Concerned.”

At 8:43 p.m., Mr. Vietor weighed in with an email to Ms. Nuland and Jacob Sullivan, then deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and now national security adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

“There is massive disinformation out there, in particular with Congress,” Mr. Vietor wrote. “They all think it was premeditated based on inaccurate assumptions or briefings. So I think this is a response to not only a tasking from the house intel committee but also [National Security Council] guidance that we need to brief members/press and correct the record.”

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