With a CBS News report earlier last week claiming that the neither the White House nor the Central Intelligence Agency was aware of edits made to briefing and talking points generated by the CIA on the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Libya and Egypt, new questions about the document, which downplayed the role al Qaeda and other radical Islamic terrorist groupings might have played, have arisen.
One State Department source, however, insists that the Administration’s National Security Council, in fact, had a hand in editing the talking points, or a version of the talking points, that were shared more widely in the White House. “The talking points were perceived by some in the NSC to be too anti-Muslim, particularly since the NSC claimed that not enough was known about the events,” says the State Department source. “There are people on this NSC who are heavily invested in Muslim issues, and they actively sought to change the content and tone of those talking points, because they believed to define Benghazi as an act of terrorism would be counterproductive to their relationships with Muslim groups here in the U.S., and with groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East.”
The State Department source added that it was the NSC that had the greatest amount of input in the initial, prepared statement of President Obama on the Egyptian and Libyan events that pointedly avoided terming the events as terrorism.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes last weekend strenuously denied that any official in the White House made any substantive changes to the talking points, and told White House reporters that the only change made was to clarify that the facility in Benghazi was not officially a consulate.
The State Department source, however, who is troubled by the Obama Administration’s ongoing effort to downplay the threat of radical Islam here in the United States and abroad, says that — regardless of whether the White House actually took an editing pen to the CIA talking points — two senior national security aides continue to drive the Administration “soft on radical Islam” policies that contributed to the editing of the talking points: Samantha Power, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the National Security Council, who is also married to well-known Obama adviser, Cass Sunstein, and Quintan Wiktorowicz, who is currently the Senior Director for Community Partnerships at the NSC.