E-Mails Detail State Department’s Changes to CIA Briefing Document on Benghazi Terrorist Attack

Intelligence agency reports on an attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi were altered because State Department officials were concerned about congressional reaction to the deadly September 2012 terrorist attack in Libya, Stephen F. Hayes reports at the Weekly Standard.

CIA analysts “concluded even before the assaults had ended that al Qaeda-linked terrorists were involved,” Hayes writes, citing e-mails and other documents in a 43-page congressional report. “Senior administration officials … sought to obscure the emerging picture and downplay the significance of attacks that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.”

An initial draft of a CIA briefing document — prepared at congressional request, to guide officials on what they could say publicly about the attack — said U.S. authorities knew that “Islamic extremists with ties to al Qaeda participated in the attack.” However, this information was deleted because of “serious concerns” raised by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who “worried that members of Congress would use the talking points to criticize the State Department for ‘not paying attention to [CIA] warnings,’” Hayes reports. The document was changed to refer to “demonstrations” instead of “attacks.”