The White House did not heavily alter talking points about the attacks on US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, an official said on Saturday.
“If there were adjustments made to them within the intelligence community, that’s common, and that’s something they would have done themselves,” Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, told reporters.
“The only edit … made by the White House was the factual edit as to how to refer to the facility.”
After a closed-door hearing with former CIA Director David Petraeus on Friday, Republican Representative Peter King said that unclassified talking points prepared by the CIA for use by lawmakers about the September 11 attack originally pointed specifically to al Qaeda involvement. Peter King said they were edited before being cleared for use.
Ben Rhodes said the White House, and also the State Department, changed references to a “conflict” at diplomatic facilities, “because the conflict in Benghazi was not formally a conflict. Other than that we worked off the points that were provided by the intelligence community, so I can’t speak to any other edits that may have been made”.
The assault on the US mission and nearby CIA annex in Benghazi has turned into a flash point between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republicans.
Republicans accuse the White House and in particular the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, of misleading the public just after the attack by suggesting the assault was a spontaneous act instead of a planned terrorist operation. The Obama administration denies misleading anyone and says it discussed information about the Benghazi tragedy as it came in.
“What I can say is those points, and what Susan said, indicated that we believed extremists were involved in this attack,” Ben Rhodes said.