Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte issued a statement late yesterday after their 10 a.m. meeting with Susan Rice. The statement indicates that, during the meeting, acting CIA director Michael Morrell claimed the FBI removed the references to al-Qaeda in the original version of the Benghazi talking points. Later that afternoon, however (4:00 p.m.), CIA officials called back to say that Morrell misspoke — the CIA, not the FBI, had deleted the reference. But the CIA was unable to say who did it.
For those of you keeping score at home, here’s the problem with the latest explanation:
- On November 16, Petraeus told members of congress that the CIA had left the reference to al Qaeda and terrorism in the talking points. He doesn’t know who removed it.
- On November 16, Acting CIA Director Morrell told members of Congress he doesn’t know who deleted the reference.
- On November 16, DNI James Clapper told members of congress he doesn’t know who deleted the reference.
- On November 20, Office of DNI spokesman Shawn Turner says the Office of the DNI deleted the reference (no mention of whether Clapper was involved).
- On November 26 at 10:00 a.m., Acting CIA Director Morrell tells McCain et al. the FBI deleted the reference.
- On November 26 at 4:00 p.m., “CIA officials” tell McCain et al. the CIA deleted it, but are unable to say who, precisely, did so.
Regardless, CBS News reports that Rice was privy to the original assessment. She went with the “spontaneous protest due to an offensive video” story anyway.