Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal; how the story of a U.S. tragedy unfolded — and then fell apart

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Mr. Hicks said Cheryl Mills, Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff, telephoned, “very upset,” Mr. Hicks said. “She demanded a report on the visit.”

Two days later, what Republicans called a bombshell showed up on ABC News. It had acquired seemingly all the iterations of the CIA talking points and showed an editing battle between State and the intelligence community as Obama officials tried to squeeze out references to terrorism and al Qaeda.

At the White House on May 10, though, Mr. Carney again said the White House made no substantive changes.

“The only edit made by the White House or the State Department to those talking points generated by the CIA was a change from — referring to the facility that was attacked in Benghazi, from ‘consulate,’ because it was not a consulate, to ‘diplomatic post.’”

An incredulous reporter accused him of “parsing” words to avoid the truth.

On Wednesday, the White House released more than 100 pages of emails showing the give-and-take among the White House, State and CIA. Fundamental changes were made in a document that would explain to Congress and the American public what happened in Benghazi.

The intelligence community’s first draft the morning of Sept. 14 did not say that there was a demonstration outside the Benghazi mission. It did call the attack “spontaneous,” inspired by other such attacks in North Africa. It said that Islamic extremists tied to al Qaeda were involved in the attack. After the talking points were distributed to State and the White House, big changes appeared.

Added was the false assertion that there was, in fact, a demonstration outside the compound. The word “al Qaeda” was deleted.

By Saturday afternoon, as the White House national security team met to give final approval, the CIA-intelligence community’s talking points had been boiled down to three bullets, from an original six.

After deleting “al Qaeda” and adding “demonstrations,” this final product deleted the word “Islamic” before the word “extremists” and scrubbed any reference to previous attacks on foreign facilities in Benghazi.

In neither the first CIA draft talking points nor the final product, is there a reference to the YouTube video. Yet Mr. Obama and Mrs. Rice would cite it as the motivator for days to come.

At the time the talking points were submitted to the White House that Saturday, Ben Rhodes, a communications deputy, suggested the one style change on what to call the mission.

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