US toned down Benghazi memos

2013-05-10 20:07
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Washington - Obama administration officials edited memos about last year's killing of the US ambassador in Libya to omit reference to a CIA warning of a threat from al-Qaeda, ABC News reported on Friday in a story that could fuel Republican attempts to prove a cover-up.

E-mails between the state department, White House and intelligence agencies show extensive editing by the administration as it went through 12 different drafts of the memos explaining the Benghazi attack.

The so-called "talking point" memos were used to prepare US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, before she appeared on television talk shows to discuss the 11 September 2012, attack on the US mission in Benghazi in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

In one exchange, the state department's top spokesperson at the time, Victoria Nuland, objected to including the CIA's reference to intelligence about the threat from al-Qaeda in Benghazi and eastern Libya.

That "could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the state department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned", Nuland wrote in one e-mail obtained by ABC News.

Response to attack

The report came as Republicans in Congress stepped up their efforts to hammer Democrats over the Obama administration's response to the attack by suspected Islamist militants, including the role of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

E-mail traffic is central to what Republicans say is the administration's attempt to diminish the seriousness of the assault in Benghazi, because it came at the height of the US presidential campaign and might have made Obama look weak on national security before the November election.

Congressman Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat who sits on the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the Republican accusations were an attempt to damage Clinton in case she decides to run for president in 2016.

"It is so much an effort... to harm her before she even makes a decision and then to make sure they've got some material after she decides to run for president, assuming she does," he told MSNBC's "Morning Joe”.

Read more on:    cia  |  al-qaeda  |  hillary clinton  |  libya  |  us  |  benghazi attack

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