ABC News Reveals Drafts of Benghazi Talking Points

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Do I have to write about the latest on Benghazi? I guess so. In for a penny, in for a pound.

ABC News now has a complete set of drafts of the infamous “talking points” that were prepared a few days following the Benghazi attacks. The drafts don’t tell us much that we didn’t already know, but here’s a nickel summary:

  • From the very start, the talking points say that the attacks were “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” and then “evolved” into the assaults on the two compounds in Benghazi.
  • The first draft included references to “Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida.” This was eventually sanded down to “extremists” after the State Department pointed out that they had been deliberately withholding this information because “we don’t want to prejudice the investigation.” This is the same thing that David Petraeus told Congress last November.
  • The third draft included an ass-covering paragraph from the CIA making sure everyone knew they had produced “numerous pieces” on possible threats to Benghazi in the previous few months, with the obvious implication that the State Department had ignored them. Unsurprisingly, the State Department’s spokesman, Victoria Nuland, objected to this gratuitous display of bureaucratic point scoring. It was removed in the final draft.

So….nothing much, really. The third bullet point is the only one that’s even tenuously problematic, and it’s not much more than a disclosure of internal backbiting. In any case, it was ultimately removed at a Deputies Committee meeting on Saturday morning that Nuland didn’t attend.

I’m really, really trying to find anything scandalous here. I know I’m biased. But on a scale of 1 to 10, this is about a 1.5. It’s a little bit of unseemly bureaucratic squabbling combined with the usual mushiness that you get when an interagency process produces a series of drafts of sensitive information for public consumption. But I’m sure it calls for impeachment hearings to begin anyway.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate