The Spectacle Blog

60 Minutes Report on Susan Rice Misleads on Benghazi

By on 12.22.13 | 10:48PM

This evening 60 Minutes did yet another puff piece on a member of the Obama Administration. This time it was National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s turn.

Lesley Stahl called Rice “the quarterback of American foreign policy.” If that is the case then Susan Rice is to the American foreign policy what Ryan Leaf was to the San Diego Chargers.

However, the most egregious part of the segment concerned Benghazi. When discussing Rice’s infamous appearances (when she was then U.S. Ambassador to the UN) on five Sunday talk shows on September 16, 2012 in which she claimed that the attacks on Benghazi were a result of spontaneous demonstrations, Stahl states:

That particular assessment from talking points prepared by the CIA was wrong, and Rice was accused of being deliberately misleading. But a former senior intelligence official told us that the talking point that called the Benghazi attack spontaneous was precisely what classified intelligence reports said at the time.

While the CIA’s original talking points do indicate that the attacks occurred “spontaneously” following protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo they also stated, “We do know that Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida participated in the attack.” These talking points also mention Ansar al-Sharia. However, at the request of the State Department, references to both al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia were removed. Indeed, following former the testimony of CIA Director David Petraeus in November 2012 to the House Committee on Homeland Security, its Chairman Peter King noted that “(T)he original talking points prepared by the CIA were different from the ones finally put out.” 

In May 2013, it was revealed that State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland wanted references to al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia removed because it "could be abused by members (of Congress) to beat up on the State Department for not paying attention to warnings." It was particularly egregious for 60 Minutes to cast the errors in the Benghazi talking points entirely at the door of the CIA considering that 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley, in his capacity as anchor of the CBS Evening News, also reported about the revisions to the talking points and the e-mail correspondence from Nuland at the time of these revelations.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard wrote extensively about how the White House and the State Department revised the CIA talking points on Benghazi. If not for Hayes the truth about Benghazi might never have come out.

In the final analysis, by omitting crucial details reported by the CIA in the original Benghazi talking points, 60 Minutes effectively misled the American public by minimizing the role of Rice, the State Department and the Obama Administration in misleading the American public about what happened in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 and thus further tarnishing its diminishing credibility.

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