The White House reportedly edited a number of talking points about the September 2012 Benghazi attacks in the immediate aftermath of the event, according to a report by NBC News.
Among the changes were references to terrorist warnings as well as to Ansar al-Sharia – an al Qaeda-affiliated group. All in all, 12 edits were made
Friday’s discovery comes amid a fresh round of scrutiny by critics who argue Obama’s administration fell short in the handling of the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
The attack left four Americans dead.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who previously testified about the State Department’s handling of the situation in January, has repeatedly come under intense scrutiny regarding her handling of the situation.
On Friday, news outlets were reporting that the changes made to the White House’s prepared statements were taken under the advice of State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. The spokeswoman reportedly raised “legitimate procedural concerns” that were intended to prevent “prejudging” of the situation.
Also Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney clarified the administration’s response to the talking points, saying efforts to “make something political out of this” were off base.
“But the problem with that effort is that it’s never been clear what it is they think they’re accusing the administration of doing, because when it comes to who was responsible, we were very open about what we knew, what we thought we knew, what we did for a fact know, and the fact that it was an ongoing investigation.”
After looking over the first edition of talking points following the Benghazi attack, Nuland wrote, “Why would we want the Hill fingering al Ansar al Sharia when we aren’t doing that ourselves until we have an investigation result,” she stated after seeing the group’s name on the draft.
Nuland also expressed concern that references to previous terror threats “could be abused by members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to agency warnings, so why would we want to feed that either? Concerned."
Administration officials familiar with Nuland’s role in the process stated she was simply attempting to eliminate passages that could “prejudice the investigation” and encourage “a blame game before the investigation was complete.”