Disgraced ex-CIA chief David Petraeus told lawmakers yesterday that early US intelligence fingered al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists — not crazed protesters — for the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
But references to “al Qaeda” and “extremist” were omitted from the unclassified talking points once it left the CIA and went to the White House, said lawmakers who heard Petraeus’ bombshell closed-door testimony before the House and Senate intelligence committees.
“Nobody knows where it was changed,” fumed Rep. Pete King (R-LI), a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
“It was nobody in the intelligence community, so it goes to the Justice Department, State Department, White House — somewhere along the line,” he said.
King called for White House staff to testify in the committee’s probe of the botched response to the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack “to see if anyone there changed the talking points . . . and why.”
“There is still a lot of unanswered questions,” he said of the Benghazi probe. “It’s far from over.”
Some lawmakers claimed the language in the talking points was changed so the terrorists wouldn’t be alerted that US authorities were on their trail. Others said that explanation was preposterous.
King also challenged Petraeus’ recollection that he told lawmakers in a Sept. 14 briefing that al Qaeda was responsible.
“That’s not my impression,” said King, who maintains the Sept. 14 briefing perpetuated the story line that the attack stemmed from a spontaneous demonstration against a YouTube video that lampooned the Prophet Mohammed.