WASHINGTON, May 10 (Reuters) - Obama administration
officials edited memos about last year's killing of the U.S.
ambassador in Libya to omit reference to a CIA warning of a
threat from al Qaeda, ABC News reported on Friday in a story
that could fuel Republican attempts to prove a cover-up.
Emails between the State Department, White House and
intelligence agencies show extensive editing by the
administration as it went through 12 different drafts of the
memos explaining the Benghazi attack.
The so-called "talking point" memos were used to prepare
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice before she
appeared on television talk shows to discuss the Sept. 11, 2012,
attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi in which Ambassador
Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
In one exchange, the State Department's top spokeswoman at
the time, Victoria Nuland, objected to including the CIA's
reference to intelligence about the threat from al Qaeda in
Benghazi and eastern Libya.
That "could be abused by members (of Congress) to beat up
the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so
why would we want to feed that either? Concerned," Nuland wrote
in one email obtained by ABC News.
The report came as Republicans in Congress stepped up their
efforts to hammer Democrats over the Obama administration's
response to the attack by suspected Islamist militants,
including the role of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Email traffic is central to what Republicans say is the
administration's attempt to diminish the seriousness of the
assault in Benghazi because it came at the height of the U.S.
presidential campaign and might have made Obama look weak on
national security before the November election.
Congressman Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat who sits on
the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform
Committee, said the Republican accusations were an attempt to
damage Clinton in case she decides to run for president in 2016.
"It is so much an effort ... to harm her before she even
makes a decision and then to make sure they've got some material
after she decides to run for president, assuming she does," he
told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
(Reporting by Susan Heavey; editing by Jackie Frank)