By now, you’ve all heard (or read in Jonn’s excellent prior article) that the former CIA Director, David Petraeus, testified to Congress that the original CIA assessment of the Benghazi consulate attack indicated the attack appeared to have “al Qaeda involvement”. Maybe it’s just me 0 but now things starting to get a bit confusing.
Because I could swear that’s not what we were told originally. And no one seems to know when the change occurred.
Here’s what’s been reported so far. Petraeus apparently testified yesterday that the CIA’s original assessment indicated that the Benghazi attack included participation by “al Qaeda-affiliated individuals”. This language was contained in the original CIA assessment prepared the day after the consulate attack. That assessment appears to have been sent to various agencies – including State, the National Security Counsel, Justice, and the White House
However, the assessment was later changed to read “extremist organizations”. Obviously, that does not convey the same message as the original. Al Qaeda is specific; “extremist organizations” could be anyone.
It also seems that no one can say, precisely, when the assessment was changed. Nor can they say who made the change.
Indeed, the current Acting CIA Director, Mike Morell, reportedly doesn’t know who made that change or when it was made. Ditto for the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.
UN Ambassador Susan Rice had access to both classified and unclassified sources of information about the Benghazi attack before she made her now-famous public remarks on Benghazi. So she damn well should have consulted the CIA’s assessment on what caused it.
But the change must have been made before Ambassador Rice ever saw the document. Because in her famous public remarks on Benghazi, Ambassador Rice blamed the attack on an unreleased film made by a felon. A film that was at the time unknown to exist by most of the world.
Either that, or Ambassador Rice . . . simply wasn’t truthful.
Petraeus still has some explaining to do. His testimony yesterday doesn’t seem to jibe very well with at least one previous briefing to Congress on the subject.
But a second source has confirmed that the original language of the CIA assessment was changed as noted above. Further, both Clapper and Morrell have indirectly done so via failing to challenge Petraeus’ claim that the original assessment was watered down. So I think we can trust that part of his testimony today.
And it’s really curious that no one so far seems to know just who made the change – or when.
I thought this might get interesting. Looks like it’s beginning to do exactly that.
And an old question keeps tugging at the back of my mind: “What did the President know, and when . . . . “