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CBS: Office of the Director of National Intelligence edited al Qaeda references from CIA talking points

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By Doug Powers  •  November 20, 2012 02:24 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

The question of who edited the CIA guidance concerning the Benghazi attack continues evolving toward its inevitable conclusion of “Colonel Mustard in the study with the candlestick.”

From CBS News:

CBS News has learned that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) cut specific references to “al Qaeda” and “terrorism” from the unclassified talking points given to Ambassador Susan Rice on the Benghazi consulate attack – with the agreement of the CIA and FBI. The White House or State Department did not make those changes.

There has been considerable discussion about who made the changes to the talking points that Rice stuck to in her television appearances on Sept. 16 (video), five days after the attack that killed American Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, and three other U.S. nationals.

Republicans have accused her of making misleading statements by referring to the assault as a “spontaneous” demonstration by extremists. Some have suggested she used the terminology she did for political reasons.

However, an intelligence source tells CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan the links to al Qaeda were deemed too “tenuous” to make public, because there was not strong confidence in the person providing the intelligence. CIA Director David Petraeus, however, told Congress he agreed to release the information — the reference to al Qaeda — in an early draft of the talking points, which were also distributed to select lawmakers.

A possible al-Qaeda connection was considered too tenuous to include in the talking points (and on the 9/11 anniversary no less), but spontaneous protest over a YouTube video — while there was apparently never any hard evidence to justify such an assumption — wasn’t too tenuous?

Last week, Rep. Peter King said James Clapper testified that he didn’t know who edited terrorism references out of the CIA talking points:

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told Fox News that intelligence officials who testified in a closed-door hearing a day earlier, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Acting CIA Director Mike Morell, said they did not know who changed the talking points. He said they went out to multiple departments, including the State Department, National Security Council, Justice Department and White House.

The White House previously said they didn’t make the edits either.

Still, none of this explains why Susan Rice was sent out four days after the attack to offer an explanation that it appears nobody in the administration or intelligence community believed to be true.

Meanwhile, after doing such a great job on Benghazi, Hillary’s on her way to the Middle East to lead ceasefire talks.

**Written by Doug Powers

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