Original CIA Talking Points Never Explicitly Referred to Benghazi Demonstration

by Jim Geraghty

The Washington Post has a front-page story on the formulation of the Benghazi talking points, concluding that:

a close reading of recently released government e-mails that were sent during the editing process, and interviews with senior officials from several government agencies, reveal [then€“CIA Director David] Petraeus’ early role and ambitions in going well beyond the [House Intelligence] Committee’s request, apparently to produce a set of talking points favorable to his image and agency.

The story certainly reads like a hit on Petraeus — who, of course, did not respond to the Post’s requests for comment.

A funny, widely overlooked point, though: If you look at the first version of the talking points offered by the CIA Office of Public Affairs, you will see that the summary never actually refers to a protest or demonstration outside the annex or diplomatic facility in Benghazi:

We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex.

The “attacks” were inspired by the Cairo protests, and “evolved” into a direct assault. But what did the attacks “evolve” from? The noun “protest” is never used in reference to Benghazi, nor “demonstration.” There is a reference to a “crowd.”

By the time U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation, she’s declaring that a “spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi.”

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