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Tags: U.S. State Department

ABC Finds Benghazi Talking Points Extensively Edited by State Dept.



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The final Morning Jolt of the week features trouble in Syria, Kerry getting static from Russia, an argument against the immigration bill from an unexpected source, more worries from . . . but the lead item is the morning’s breaking news:

BREAKING: Jay Carney Lied About the Benghazi Talking Points

Breaking this morning, from ABC News’ Jonathan Karl:

When it became clear last fall that the CIA’s now discredited Benghazi talking points were flawed, the White House said repeatedly the documents were put together almost entirely by the intelligence community, but White House documents reviewed by Congress suggest a different story.

ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.

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.

That would appear to directly contradict what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said about the talking points in November.

“Those talking points originated from the intelligence community. They reflect the IC’s best assessments of what they thought had happened,” Carney told reporters at the White House press briefing on November 28, 2012. “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”

Here’s the kicker:

In an email to officials at the White House and the intelligence agencies, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland took issue with including that information because it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned . . .”

Hey, why would they want to accurately inform the public if it might result in criticism from Congress, right?

Tags: Benghazi , Jay Carney , Barack Obama , U.S. State Department

Spared by the Sequester: $704,198 for ‘Gardening Services’



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Today’s edition of “Spared by the Sequester” comes from the U.S. State Department, which has awarded a contract for $704,198.30 for “gardening services at a residence located in Tervuren, Belgium.”

It is, presumably, the residence of the U.S. ambassador to NATO, a considerable estate:

Truman Hall is a traditional Flemish country estate built in 1963 for Côte d’Or chocolatier Jean Michiels. The house is the residence of the Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and is named in honor of President Harry S Truman, one of NATO’s founders.

The design is the successful collaboration between Architect B. A. Jacquemotte and Landscape Architect René Pechère.

Pechère, one of the best-known contemporary landscape architects in Europe, transformed 27 acres of barren agricultural land into gentle hills and valleys, meadows, and formal gardens. A curvaceous cobbled drive, lined with roses, leads to the tree-lined approach to the residence. The home overlooks a sweeping lawn, towering cedars, English gardens and an herb garden. The lawn pavilion is planted with fragrant honeysuckles, roses, clematis, hydrangeas and wisteria. The original children’s playground, giant sequoia circle and maze are still effective landscape elements.

The contract is listed as covering “a base period of twelve months and four one-year option periods at the option of the Government.”

The contract was awarded yesterday, ten days after the sequester took effect.

Obviously, we want our ambassadors’ residences looking suitable to represent the United States, and this site is used for diplomatic purposes.

But for the amount the federal government spent on this contract for gardening services, we could keep the White House open for public tours for nine months.

Tags: Sequester , U.S. State Department

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