Former CIA Director David Petraeus testified in a closed-door hearing Friday morning that his agency determined immediately after the Sept. 11 Libya attack that “Al Qaeda involvement” was suspected — but the line was taken out in the final version circulated to administration officials, according to a top lawmaker who was briefed.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who spoke to reporters after Petraeus testified before the House Intelligence Committee, indicated he and other lawmakers still have plenty of questions about the aftermath of the attack.
“No one knows yet exactly who came up with the final version of the talking points,” he said.
. . .
“The original talking points were much more specific about Al Qaeda involvement. And yet the final ones just said indications of extremists,” King said, adding that the final version was the product of a vague “inter-agency process.”
Further, King said a CIA analyst specifically told lawmakers that the Al Qaeda affiliates line “was taken out.”
Lawmakers are focusing on the talking points issue because of concern over the account U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice gave on five Sunday shows on Sept. 16, when she repeatedly claimed the attack was spontaneous — Rice’s defenders have since insisted she was merely basing her statements on the intelligence at the time.
The suggestion that the intelligence was altered raised questions about who altered it, with King asking if “the White House changed the talking points.”
For weeks now, it has been reported that Rice was using CIA talking points on her round of Sunday morning shows. Now Petraeus, who was then head of the CIA, is saying that the CIA was already thinking Al-Qaeda had played a role before Rice went on the shows. Looks like the key question now is who changed the original talking points to the version Rice was given.