Mark Mardell, North American Editor of BBC News:
There’s new evidence, obtained by ABC, that the Obama administration did deliberately purge references to “terrorism” from accounts of the attack on the Benghazi diplomatic mission, which killed four people including the US ambassador to Libya.
Conservatives have long maintained that the administration deliberately suppressed the truth about the attacks.
This is the first hard evidence that the state department did ask for changes to the CIA’s original assessment.
Specifically, they wanted references to previous warnings deleted and this sentence removed: “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.”
There’s little doubt in my mind that this will haunt Hillary Clinton if she decides to run for president, unless she executes some pretty fancy footwork.
State department spokesperson Victoria Nuland is directly implicated, and the fingerprints of senior White House aides Ben Rhodes and Jay Carney are there as well.
In the interests of full disclosure I have to say I have not in the past been persuaded that allegations of a cover-up were a big deal. It seemed to me a partisan attack based on very little.
I remember listening to reports from the BBC and others at the time that did suggest the attack in Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction to a rather puerile anti-Islamic video.
However you read the motives, the state department and apparently the White House did get the CIA to change its story.
This is now very serious, and I suspect heads will roll. The White House will be on the defensive for a while.
The cover-up was obviously politically motivated. The shit hit the fan less than two months before an election. That reaction is understandable and yet still deplorable. So far all the focus has been on the cover-up. But what were they covering up?
Was it merely a case of bad judgment or was this some secret CIA/State Department joint operation that went bad? Hopefully the US media has finally awakened from their five year slumber and will finally begin to do their job.
Yeah, I know. Hope is not a strategy. Hope in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first.
BTW – Whatever they were covering up, then-CIA Director Petraeus apparently didn’t want to play ball. This makes his sudden departure all the more suspicious.