Sen. Feinstein: Susan Rice read unclassified CIA talking points

November 16, 2012

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Friday that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice relied on unclassified CIA talking points when she made comments about a possible protest preceding the attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. 

The Washington Post's David Ignatius reported much the same thing in an Oct. 19 column.

Feinstein read the CIA talking points to reporters after today's closed-door hearings regarding the Benghazi assault.  

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Feinstein mentioned the following talking points:

  • The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the United States Embassy in Cairo and evolved  into a direct assault  against United States diplomatic posts in Benghazi and subsequently its annex.
  • There are indications extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.
  • This assessment may change as additional information is collected and analyzed and as currently available information continues to be evaluated.
  • The investigation is ongoing and the United States government is working with Libyan authorities to bring justice to those responsible for the deaths of United States citizens.

Rice took to the Sunday talk-show circuit Sept. 16, saying that the best information available to the Obama administration indicated that the attack on the compound began "spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo, where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy sparked by this hateful [anti-Islam] video." 

The White House acknowledged nearly a month after the attack on the consulate that no demonstrations had taken place outside the facility that day. Republicans have accused Rice of taking part in an Obama administration cover-up.

During his first post-election news conference Wednesday, President Obama chastised the GOP for its accusations against Rice, saying that they should come after him rather than trying to "besmirch" the reputation of the U.N. ambassador.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) quickly responded with the following statement:

Mr. President, don’t think for one minute I don’t hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi.  I think you failed as Commander in Chief before, during, and after the attack.

Graham also suggested that he would not vote to confirm Rice for secretary of state if the president nominates her for that post. He described the U.N. ambassador as "up to her eyeballs in the Benghazi debacle." 

Republicans today showed signs of shying away from attacks on Rice, instead calling for further inquiries into security and intelligence-gathering issues surrounding the Benghazi incident.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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Josh Hicks | November 16, 2012