The White House denied it edited talking points about the September 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens, and that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice described as a spontaneous event caused by a mob angry at the anti-Islam YouTube film The Innocence of Muslims.
In doing so, the Obama White House also contradicted former CIA Director David Petraeus testimony before Congress. The disgraced retired general, who resigned from his post two days after the election citing an extramarital affair, told lawmakers on Friday that the intelligence available almost immediately — and delivered to the president — was that the Benghazi attack had been planned and carried out by Al-Qaeda affiliates.
But the White House insists the talking points Rice delivered to the major TV networks following the attack were the same ones provided by the intelligence community. “The only edit that was made by the White House and also by the State Department was to change the word ‘consulate’ to the word ‘diplomatic facility,’ since the facility in Benghazi was not formally a consulate,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters.
But Petraeus said the "unclassified" talking points were later revised to omit any mention of Al-Qaeda. The edits were allegedly made after the statement left the CIA for review by the Defense and State departments, ultimately landing at the White House -- according to the New York Post.
Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.), who attended Friday's Petraeus closed-door hearing, has been a leading critic of what Republicans see as the administration's mishandling of the Benghazi attack. He and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) have criticized Rice, who is a potential candidate to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, for what they call misleading statements regarding the tragedy, and have implied this disqualifies her for the job promotion.