(Changes to consulate from conflict in fourth paragraph)
ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE, Nov 17 (Reuters) - The White House did
not heavily alter talking points about the attacks on a U.S.
diplomatic mission in Libya, an official said on Saturday.
"If there were adjustments made to them within the
intelligence community, that's common, and that's something they
would have done themselves," Ben Rhodes, deputy national
security adviser, told reporters. "The only edit ... made by the
White House was the factual edit as to how to refer to the
After a closed-door hearing with former CIA Director David
Petraeus on Friday, Republican Representative Peter King said
that unclassified talking points prepared by the CIA for use by
lawmakers about the Sept. 11 attack originally pointed
specifically to al Qaeda involvement. King said they were edited
before being cleared for use.
Rhodes said the White House, and also the State Department,
changed references to the diplomatic facility as a "consulate,"
"because the consulate in Benghazi was not formally a consulate.
Other than that we worked off the points that were provided by
the intelligence community, so I can't speak to any other edits
that may have been made."
The assault on the U.S. mission and nearby CIA annex in
Benghazi has turned into a flash point between Democratic
President Barack Obama and Republicans.
Republicans accuse the White House and in particular the
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, of misleading
the public just after the attack by suggesting the assault was a
spontaneous act instead of a planned terrorist operation. The
Obama administration denies misleading anyone and says it
discussed information about the Benghazi tragedy as it came in.
" What I can say is those points, and what Susan said,
indicated that we believed extremists were involved in this
attack," Rhodes said.
When asked on Fox News on Saturday who might have made the
edits, King said he did not know.
"That's why it's important to find out why it was done. It
could be anywhere in the Defense Department, the State
Department, the Justice Department, the White House," King said.
"(We need) to find out why it was done, what the purpose of it
He added: "I have my own beliefs, that for whatever reasons,
the administration honestly believes that the war against al
Qaeda is pretty much over and that's the message that they
wanted to present. But on the other hand, they may have some
valid reason. I think we have to look at it."
(Reporting By Jeff Mason, Additional reporting by Doug Palmer
in Washington, Writing by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Bill Trott
and Eric Walsh)