For two months now, Republicans led by John McCain and Lindsey Graham have been fulminating about the Obama Administration's response to the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of our Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans.
News that has come out in the last twenty-four hours should, one would think, answer at least one of the central charges being made by those Republicans about how the administration dealt with the attack and, in particular, how it presented information on the attack to the public.
"The intelligence community -- not the White House, State Department or Justice Department -- was responsible for the substantive changes made to the talking points distributed for government officials who spoke publicly about the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, the spokesman for the director of national intelligence said Monday.
The unclassified talking points on Libya, developed several days after the the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, were not substantively changed by any agency outside of the intelligence community, according to the spokesman, Shawn Turner."
Why does this matter? Well, the guts of the Republican claim that Benghazi represents a "scandal" revolves around the charge that somehow the Obama Administration altered the initial intelligence reports for political reasons, only a few weeks before the election, to improve the president's chances. Republicans claim that the White House didn't want the American people to know that a terrorist group connected to al-Qaeda was involved in the attacks because it would undercut the argument that the president's policies had decimated al-Qaeda.
This has always been a desperate, scurrilous, and dangerous charge made by a Republican party that was going down to defeat and still, today, is looking for anything it can find to discredit a president newly strengthened by a strong Election Day mandate from the majority of voters.
From the same article:
"'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.'
Some Republican members of Congress suggested the change came from within the Obama Administration -- from the White House, the Justice Department, or another government agency."
Now we have further confirmation, this time from the director of national intelligence, that there was no politicization by the administration of the intelligence information. The information -- which Susan Rice delivered to the country on the Sunday talk shows -- came lock, stock, and barrel from the intelligence community. Susan Rice -- whom Senators McCain and Graham have vowed to block if she is nominated to be Secretary of State and whom McCain condemned as "unqualified" for the position -- did her job and presented the intelligence community's assessment of what happened in Benghazi. What else should she have done?
I'd like to think this recent news will help lance the boil of this Republican outcry over the supposed politicization of the intelligence information on the Benghazi attacks. We'll have to see. I'll just leave it at that.