Things Get Tense When Bachmann Grills Former CIA Deputy Director Over Benghazi Talking Points
by Oliver Darcy
The former deputy director of the CIA insisted during a congressional hearing Wednesday that he did not alter the infamous 2012 Benghazi talking points due to political pressure, despite pointed questioning by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).
"The narrative that the attack evolved spontaneously from a protest was a narrative that intelligence community analysts believed," Mike Morell said. "That turned out to be incorrect. But that is what they believed at the time. So there is no politics there whatsoever."
"Let me actually give you the facts," Morell added to Bachmann, before contending the five edits that were made had nothing to do with politics, but instead involved minor stylistic changes and edits to increase accuracy.
Just four days after the attack, the former deputy director of the CIA removed references about threats from extremists tied to Al Qaeda, substituting it by saying that "there are indications extremists participated in the violent demonstrations."
An unclassified talking points document is shown as former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, before the House Intelligence Committee. (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Bachmann argued such changes were of importance.
"You made significant, substantive changes for the White House," she said. "Whether it was on behalf, we don't know. But we know you are the one that made those changes."
"Ma'am, if you look at the record, what you will see that the changes were fully consistent with what our analysts believed at the time. Period," the former deputy director replied.
Bachmann said that those on the ground at the time of the attack were ignored and argued that there was an "intentional misleading of the public."
Morell maintained that the changes he made to the widely debunked 2012 talking points were not for political reasons.
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