White House Press Briefing on Benghazi Will Be Interesting ... If It Ever Happens

Elspeth Reeve
White House Press Briefing on Benghazi Will Be Interesting ... If It Ever Happens

White House press secretary Jay Carney's press conference on Friday is going to be really interesting, if it ever happens. Not only were there new revelations about how the White House crafted its talking points on Benghazi immediately after the attack, but Carney himself was sure to be asked about his previous assertion that the White House had only made "stylistic" changes to the talking points that came from intelligence agencies. But Friday's press conference was delayed multiple times, and the White House held an off-the-record briefing with reporters about the Benghazi investigation, Politico's Dylan Byers reports. We don't know what as said. 

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On Wednesday, Carney said the edits to Benghazi talking points were "stylistic and non-substantive," but the 12 revisions to the CIA's initial draft include removing references to terrorist activity in Libya in the months before the September 11 attack. In particular, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in the emails between bureaucracies that references to al Qaeda-linked groups should be deleted, because they "could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings."

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It's likely the off-the-record meeting was the White House explaining its version of the story behind the emails. What would that be? That this wasn't about election politics, but bureaucratic infighting. That's a theory floated by The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler, who writes, "the final version of the talking points may have been so wan because officials simply deleted everything that upset the two sides. So they were left with nothing."  ABC News posted an update to its article about the 12 revisions earlier Friday, saying:

UPDATE: A source familiar with the White House emails on the Benghazi talking point revisions say that State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland was raising two concerns about the CIA’s first version of talking points, which were going to be sent to Congress: 1) The talking points went further than what she was allowed to say about the attack during her state department briefings; and, 2) she believed the CIA was attempting to exonerate itself at the State Department’s expense by suggesting CIA warnings about the security situation were ignored.