Former CIA Director defends White House stance on Benghazi attack. Michael Morell testified on Wednesday before Congress regarding his role in the Talking Points memo. This memo has come under huge scrutiny as the initial publicly released version stated the attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 was directly related to an anti-Muslim film released early in that year.
However, it was later confirmed that the Talking Points memo had been changed. The original version, not released to the public, stated the attack on the Embassy was a planned, coordinated attack by Muslim terrorist. The CIA prepared the original memo and had released it to the State Department and the White House. The CIA initially claimed the memo was changed after it left their hand…either by the State Department or by the White House. Both the State Dept and the White House denied this claim.
In May 2013, eight months after the attack, ABC News uncovered the facts the Talking Points Memo was extensively edited 12 times. The White House and the State Department had continued to denied, up until this story, that they had NOT changed the documents and said the memo was almost entirely prepared by the CIA. From the ABC News story:
“White House emails reviewed by ABC News suggest the edits were made with extensive input from the State Department. The edits included requests from the State Department that references to the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Ansar al-Sharia be deleted as well references to CIA warnings about terrorist threats in Benghazi in the months preceding the attack.”
ABC News: Benghazi Talking Points underwent 12 Revisions
This directly contradicts the continued denying by Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary where he said “Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect their best assessment of what they thought happened.” It was later confirmed that the CIA did in fact state it was a terrorist attack by Ansar al-Sharia who immediately took responsibility for the attack WHILE the attack was still in progress. Emails show that the State Department did have extensive input into the editing.
Now, at this week’s hearing, the CIA is saying they thought it might be a riot that turned violent or a coordinated terrorist attack. The attack on the Embassy took place a year-and-a-half ago, and now the CIA (Michael Morell) is saying well, it may have been a spontaneous protest turned-riot too…we are not sure. During the attack on the Embassy one of the embassy staff sent an email saying it was terrorism:
6:07 p.m.: The State Department’s Operations Center sends an email to the White House, Pentagon, FBI and other government agencies that said Ansar al-Sharia has claimed credit for the attack on its Facebook and Twitter accounts. (The existence of the email was not disclosed until Reuters reported it on Oct. 24.)
Factcheck.org: Benghazi Timeline
During his testimony Wednesday, Michael Morell said “I believe it was a protest. I also believe it was a terrorist attack. I don’t believe those things were mutually exclusive.” This contradicts early statements by him and General David Petreaus, form CIA Director (Morell’s boss). It also contradicts the Talking Points Memo.
So why the about-face by Morell and/or the CIA? It is known that Morell recently joined Beacon Global Strategies, a high-end consulting group which has very close ties to the Clintons. (Beacon: Morell) Hillary Clinton was the Director of the State Department during the attack who has denied she was ever told this was a terrorist attack by the CIA. The original Talking Points memo clearly shows it was a terrorist attack. Hillary is expected to run for President in the 2016 election. So most are speculating that Morell is taking the heat for her due his close association to her and her to the Beacon consulting firm for whom he now works.