Who is fibbing? CIA or White House? Both trying to throw the other “under the bus?”

Below are notes from my FNC colleague Molly Hennenberg about what White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said today. 

White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes in a gaggle today :

“the only edit that was made by the White House and also by the State Department was to change the word ‘consulate’ to the word ‘diplomatic facility,’ since the facility in Benghazi was not formally a consulate.

 “I’m saying we were provided with points by the intelligence community that represented their assessment; the only edit made by the White House was the factual edit about how to refer to the facility.”

 

Rhodes, on the Benghazi attack/Petraeus testimony:

-Asked if the CIA’s initial report indicated a terror attack, when was that assessment removed, by whom and why?

“On the question of the initial intelligence assessments and the way they evolved in the first days and weeks after the attack, again we in the White House are guided by the information we receive from the CIA and other intelligence agencies. It’s only natural that in the first days after the attack, they’re going to sort through different pieces of intelligence, they’re going to gain a better understanding of what happened and they’re going to continue to update their assessment. …

“The focus of this has often been on public statements that were made by Susan Rice and other administration officials in that first week after the attack, those were informed by unclassified talking points that were provided to the Congress and the other agencies in the rest of the administration by the intelligence community. So that’s what informed our public statements. Now if there were adjustments to them made by the intelligence community, that’s common and that’s something they would have done themselves. What we also said yesterday, when this question came up as to whether the White House edited Susan Rice’s points and the points that were provided to Congress and the administration, the only edit that was made by the White House and also by the State Department was to change the word ‘consulate’ to the word ‘diplomatic facility,’ since the facility in Benghazi was not formally a consulate. Other than that we were guided by the points that were provided by the intelligence community. So I can’t speak to any other edits that may have been made.”

-So can you say nobody at the WH took out the initial terror language in CIA report or ordered it removed?

 “I’m saying we were provided with points by the intelligence community that represented their assessment; the only edit made by the White House was the factual edit about how to refer to the facility.”

If the head of CIA believed something different, why talking points go in different direction?

“I can’t speak to what the process is within the CIA. What I can say, though, is those points, and what Susan said is that we indicated we believed extremists were involved. The president himself called it an ‘act of terror,’ right? So you have an initial assessment, an initial judgment, but you’re able to get more specific as … the investigation proceeds. That’s going to be the natural progression of events.”

 

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney did not make any real news, but, on the fiscal cliff:

-Asked if there was a two-tier process to resolving the fiscal cliff, he said it was getting ahead of the process to comment on that. Asked whether Secretary Geithner was leading the administration talks, Carney said: “Both Secretary Geithner and Chief of Staff Lew will be very involved in this process. We don’t have designated team leaders. They’ll both play very important roles.”

 

 

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