After officially making President Obama upset over the finger-pointing related to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, it turns out that Senator John McCain may not have been correct.
McCain's been blaming the White House for U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's initial comments that the September 11 attack on the consulate was "spontaneous," and McCain has floated the idea of a White House "coverup" pretty heavily.
It turns out that the phrases "attack," "Al Qaeda" and "terrorism" were plucked from the talking points Rice used by officials from the Director of National Intelligence's office, according to a CNN report that's apparently been confirmed by other national media outlets.
Specifically, National Intelligence Director James Clapper's spokesman told CNN, "There were no substantive changes made to the talking points after they left the intelligence community."
In a statement from McCain's office, the senator describes his reaction as "somewhat surprised and frustrated," but doesn't quite concede his point:
"I am somewhat surprised and frustrated to read reports that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was responsible for removing references to Al-Qaeda from the unclassified talking points about the Benghazi attack that Ambassador Susan Rice and other officials used in the early days after September 11, 2012. I participated in hours of hearings in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last week regarding the events in Benghazi, where 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. Now we have to read the answers to our questions in the media. There are many other questions that remain unanswered. But this latest episode is another reason why many of us are so frustrated with, and suspicious of, the actions of this Administration when it comes to the Benghazi attack."
We've sent an e-mail to McCain's spokesman, asking him to clarify whether McCain is accepting these reports, and if McCain's still blaming the White House. We'll provide the update if it comes along.
McCain's certainly correct in saying that "many other questions that remain unanswered," but it's not exactly clear where McCain's getting his information, either.
For example, just last week, CNN's Anderson Cooper floated this scenario, albeit without the details, that Rice was relying on talking points from the intelligence community.
McCain responded, "First of all, the talking points came from the White House, not the [Director of National Intelligence]."
McCain also reportedly missed a hearing on the attack, so it's not really clear who's acting the most suspicious at this point.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.