White House Releases Benghazi Email Dump

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


The White House has released a dump of the email conversation that eventually produced the Benghazi talking points that were requested by Congress and then used by Susan Rice in her Sunday morning talk show interviews. The full set is here. Seven in particular struck me as interesting:

UPDATE: Amanda Terkel has more on State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland’s objection to including a paragraph about previous CIA warnings regarding the threat of extremists in Benghazi:

Senior administration officials on Wednesday said that Michael J. Morell, then the deputy director of the CIA, also wanted that line removed, separately from Nuland. Morell believed it was irrelevant to the message of the talking points — what happened in Benghazi — and unprofessional to include those warnings but not allow State Department officials to include how they had responded to them.

Separate from Wednesday’s document release, the CIA recently conducted an internal review of how and why the talking points were changed — a move that also came in response to the continuing questions from Congress. That review showed that many changes were made to the original talking points — drafted by a senior officer — over concerns about accuracy, an FBI investigation and other bureaucratic matters.

Senior administration officials, discussing that internal review, relayed that some CIA officials didn’t like that the original draft of the talking points said the government “know[s] that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack,” because at that time it was premature to name those responsible for the attacks.

Their concerns at other times were more mundane. For example, CIA officials also decided to change the phrase “attacks in Benghazi … evolved into a direct assault against the US Consulate” to “demonstrations in Benghazi” because they believed “attacks” and “assault” were synonymous, making the phrase illogical.

CIA officers also removed the reference to al Qaeda in order not to prejudge the outcome of a FBI investigation into the incident. A reference to another terrorist group, Ansar al-Sharia, was left in, but later removed at the request of the State Department; the CIA agreed with that decision, again so as not to hinder the FBI investigation.

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate