Patterico's Pontifications

5/6/2013

Benghazi Talking Points Change Was Shocking to U.S. Acting Ambassador to Libya

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:38 am

John Sexton yesterday at Big Peace:

In an appearance on Face the Nation this morning, Rep. Darrell Issa revealed several new pieces of information about the Obama administration’s controversial description of the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, casting doubt that the White House mischaracterized its cause by mere accident.

“The talking points were right and then the talking points were wrong,” Issa explained in response to a question about reporting at the Weekly Standard. The CIA and Greg Hicks, who took over as Charge d’Affairs in Libya after the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens, both knew immediately that it was an attack, not a protest.

Hicks, who did not appear on the show but whose reactions were featured based on transcripts of interviews with Issa’s committee, said he was stunned by what UN Ambassador Susan Rice claimed on five different news shows on Sep. 16. When she appeared on Face the Nation, she followed an interview with the President of Libya who claimed he had “no doubt” it was a terror attack. Moments later, Amb. Rice contradicted him and claimed a spontaneous protest was more likely.

The acting ambassador was appalled — and had good reason to be:

Acting Ambassador Hicks watched the Sunday shows and said he found this contradiction shocking. “The net impact of what has transpired is the spokesperson of the most powerful country in the world has basically said that the President of Libya is either a liar or doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” he accused. Hicks added, “My jaw hit the floor as I watched this…I’ve never been as embarrassed in my life, in my career as on that day.”

. . . .

A report published Friday by the Weekly Standard suggests that State Dept. spokesperson Victoria Nuland took issue with the initial talking points and, with backing from the White House, removed any evidence of al Qaeda involvement and of prior attacks on western targets in the region. According to emails reviewed by the Weekly Standard, Nuland said her superiors (unnamed) were concerned about criticism from Congress.

Instapundit wants to know if the filmmaker Nakoula “was targeted and jailed so as to provide a scapegoat/villain in a politically motivated cover story that the White House knew was false.” I make no accusations on that front; my attitude is the same as it was in this post. As I said then, it sounds like they had good reason to violate his probation. That said:

The problem we have here is that the head of the federal executive has criticized this guy repeatedly. His administration pressured Google to take down his movie; his Cairo embassy called it an “abuse” of free speech; and his State Department apologized for it in a country (Pakistan) where a public official offered money for the filmmaker to be killed.

So even if the line guys are doing their jobs the way they would otherwise, the President has made them look like political hacks. Which is unfortunate on several levels.

I think Issa should (and will) look into this and see if there is any evidence of pressure by Obama’s administration on federal prosecutors. And if there was? Combined with the revised talking points, Mr. Obama may have some serious problems.


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