In news that will satisfy anyone interested in the CIA talking points about the Benghazi attacks who is not Senator John McCain, intelligence officials are now coming forward and saying that the changes to those CIA talking points — the ones that McCain and his posse of Senators are so angry about — were measured choices made by ... intelligence officials, not the White House. Shawn Turner, the spokesman for the National Intelligence Director James Clapper, confirmed in a CNN report that the changes like "al Qaeda" and "terrorist" being scrubbed from the unclassified talking points came from the intelligence community. He said:
The intelligence community made substantive, analytical changes before the talking points were sent to government agency partners for their feedback ...There were no substantive changes made to the talking points after they left the intelligence community.
And as to why they did this, an anonymous official told CNN what David Petraeus had said last week: that these were measured changes that were done strategically as to not tip off the terrorist networks...
"First, the information about individuals linked to al Qaeda was derived from classified sources," the official said. "Second, when links were so tenuous - as they still are - it makes sense to be cautious before pointing fingers so you don't set off a chain of circular and self-reinforcing assumptions. Third, it is important to be careful not to prejudice a criminal investigation in its early stages."
The Los Angeles Times has the report with an anonymous intelligence official who echoed the same points. McCain's office yesterday pivoted from grilling Susan Rice about her comments to Sunday talk shows in the wake of the Benghazi attacks to attacking the idea that the words "al Qaeda" shouldn't have been scrubbed from the unclassified CIA talking points given to Rice. "I participated in hours of hearings in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last week..." his statement reads (omitting the fact that he missed a closed Senate briefing to hold a press conference about how upset he was at the lack of information.) "Senior intelligence officials were asked this very question, and all of them – including the Director of National Intelligence himself – told us that they did not know who made the changes," concludes the statement. Well, now we have our answer. But judging by McCain's axe to grind, we don't expect that it will exactly satisfy him.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.