The Difference it makes: Hillary Clinton’s spokesman involved in altering of Benghazi Talking Points?

As Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) – powerful member of the House Oversight Committee – puts it, there are ‘three tranches’ when it comes to the larger scandal known Benghazi-gate.

  1. The decision not to provide security beforehand
  2. What happened during the siege, why assets were not employed
  3. Why Susan Rice mislead all of us on five Sunday talk shows

When it comes to tranche number three, an article by Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard sheds some bright light on what problems the Obama administration will be facing. In essence, despite prior protestations, it is now crystal clear that there were forces at work – particularly in the State Department – who did not like the language in the talking points put forth by the Intelligence community on Friday, September 14th, three days after the attacks in Benghazi.

Demonstrable evidence seems to suggest that the CIA’s original talking points were more closely aligned with witness accounts from individuals on the ground in Benghazi. Remember, witness accounts are being headlined as the reason for compelling hearings on May 8th.

Via WS:

A cable sent the following day, September 12, by the CIA station chief in Libya, reported that eyewitnesses confirmed the participation of Islamic militants and made clear that U.S. facilities in Benghazi had come under terrorist attack. It was this fact, along with several others, that top Obama officials would work so hard to obscure.

Fast forward to Friday, September 14th. That evening, officials at the top of various departments and agencies received the CIA community’s version of the talking points that were distributed internally earlier that day. According to Hayes, it didn’t take long for Hillary Clinton’s mouthpiece to object:

The talking points were first distributed to officials in the interagency vetting process at 6:52 p.m. on Friday. Less than an hour later, at 7:39 p.m., an individual identified in the House report only as a “senior State Department official” responded to raise “serious concerns” about the draft. That official, whom The Weekly Standard has confirmed was State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, worried that members of Congress would use the talking points to criticize the State Department for “not paying attention to Agency warnings.”

Ain’t it interesting that it took the State Department less than one hour to respond to Benghazi talking points it didn’t like but neglected to respond to the Benghazi attacks themselves, which went on for several hours? It’s also interesting to note that earlier that day, at the White House Press Briefing, Obama spokesman Jay Carney implied – quite overtly – that the video was responsible for those attacks. When pressed, he deferred to asking the reporter to prove a negative:

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Hayes then writes about the reaction of Nuland (Hillary’s mouthpiece) later that evening, after the CIA created version two of the talking points:

…in a follow-up email at 9:24 p.m., Nuland wrote that the problem remained and that her superiors—she did not say which ones—were unhappy. The changes, she wrote, did not “resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership,” and State Department leadership was contacting National Security Council officials directly. Moments later, according to the House report, “White House officials responded by stating that the State Department’s concerns would have to be taken into account.”

Questions: If Nuland was the official voice / mouthpiece of the Secretary of State, who were her superiors? Was there someone between her and Hillary? If so, who? Then again, does it really matter? Nuland was either Hillary’s spokesman or she was not. If she was, wasn’t she necessarily speaking for Hillary when she said her superiors were not happy?

According to Hayes, the next day – Saturday, the 15th – administration officials would get to work on those talking points.

…according to two officials with knowledge of the process, Mike Morrell, deputy director of the CIA, made broad changes to the draft afterwards. Morrell cut all or parts of four paragraphs of the six-paragraph talking points—148 of its 248 words (see Version 2 above). Gone were the reference to “Islamic extremists,” the reminders of agency warnings about al Qaeda in Libya, the reference to “jihadists” in Cairo, the mention of possible surveillance of the facility in Benghazi, and the report of five previous attacks on foreign interests.

Though not mentioned, it’s at least conceivable at this point – one day prior to Susan Rice going on those Sunday shows – that CIA Director David Petraeus was becoming persona non grata (remember his affair with Paula Broadwell was made public very shortly after the election).

Check out what was attributed to Petraeus on the afternoon of September 14th, via ABC News, presumably after Carney pointed to the video earlier that day:

The attack that killed four Americans in the Libyan consulate began as a spontaneous protest against the film “The Innocence of Muslims,” but Islamic militants who may have links to Al Qaeda used the opportunity to launch an attack, CIA Director David Petreaus told the House Intelligence Committee today according to one lawmaker who attended a closed-door briefing.

We are left to conclude that when Nuland said her superiors were ‘not happy’ on the evening of September 14th, much of that displeasure was likely attributable to what Petraeus said earlier that day as well as what his agency put forth in its initial version of what happened in Benghazi on the night of the 11th.

Again, if the spokesman for the Secretary of State had ‘superiors’, who were they? Did they not include Hillary Clinton herself? Her advisors? Her Deputy Chief of Staff, whose family would most assuredly not want the Benghazi attackers identified as al-Qaeda or Ansar al-Sharia – offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group to which the mother of Hillary’s Deputy Chief of Staff belonged? The spokesman for the Secretary of State is the equivalent of a ventriloquist dummy with the hand in its back being the Secretary of State.

It should indeed be clear why the misleading statements of Susan Rice on September 16th constitute a significant ‘tranche’ of this investigation.

For some reason, this clip of Hillary just becomes more relevant by the day:


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