Sen.: W.H. cut al-Qaida in talking points

Nov. 18, 2012 at 3:00 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- A Republican U.S. senator said testimony on the Libyan consulate attack left him believing the Obama administration deliberately downplayed al-Qaida's role.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said on "Fox News Sunday" every agency representative who testified last week before the Intelligence Committee on the deadly attack in Benghazi claimed not to know who "edited" the controversial talking points in which U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said the raid was the result of an impromptu street demonstration.

"Everybody there was asked, do you know who made these changes?" Chambliss said. "Nobody knew. The only entity that reviewed the talking points that was not there was the White House.

"What I do know is that every member of the intelligence community says that references to al-Qaida were removed by somebody, and they don't know who," Chambliss added.

Another committee member, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Ind-Conn., told Fox there was still confusion over Rice and the talking points but he considered the debate to be less significant than larger questions about the State Department's handling of diplomatic security in Libya at a time when intelligence indicated al-Qaida and other militants were setting up shop in the unstable country.

"With what we know now about the intelligence on the terrorists who were in the vicinity of Benghazi, it was in my opinion irresponsible to have our State Department personnel there, with only three security guards," Lieberman said. "Either we should have given them the protection they deserved, or should have closed that mission in Benghazi, as the British government had done a short while before."

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