White House releases Benghazi emails; Petraeus email objected to final talking points
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House has released 99 pages of emails and a single page of hand-written notes documenting how the administration crafted its public talking points immediately following September’s deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.
Among the details, the documents show that then-CIA Director David Petraeus objected to the final version that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used five days after the assault. The handwritten note came from Petraeus’ deputy. On it, Mike Morell scratched out items eliminated from the CIA’s early drafts, including mentions of al-Qaida, the experience of fighters in Libya, Islamic extremists and a warning to the Cairo embassy on the eve of the attacks.
After receiving Morell’s edited version, Petraeus wrote: “Frankly, I’d just as soon not use this.”
A senior U.S. intelligence official says Morell made the changes because of his own concerns that they could prejudge an FBI investigation into who was responsible for the attack.
Critics have highlighted an email by then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressing concern that mention of prior warnings or al-Qaida involvement would give Republicans ammunition ahead of the election.