The Obama White House needs to set the record straight about the disconnect between what the CIA knew about the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, and the administration's public insistence that it was an outgrowth of a spontaneous demonstration.
Ex-CIA Director David Petraeus reportedly told Congress in a closed hearing Friday that he knew early on that the attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans was an act of terrorism, but that critical detail was not made public for fear of tipping off the perpetrators that they were being tracked.
"Talking points" supposedly based on the best available intelligence continued to advance a narrative that the assaults were prompted by an overheated demonstration prompted by an anti-Muslim video. Most notably, those talking points were parroted by Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on Sunday talk shows. The president himself advanced the spontaneous-demonstration theory long after it was presumably discounted at the top levels of U.S. intelligence.
Whether this represents tactical disinformation, a serious breakdown in communication between intelligence officials and the White House or a political move to preserve the fantasy that al Qaeda was all but vanquished -- various Republicans are suggesting the latter -- the American people deserve to know how, when, why and by whom these "talking points" veered from the CIA's understanding of reality.
San Francisco Chronicle