Boehner calls for White House to release Benghazi emails
May 9th, 2013
11:55 AM ET
2 years ago

Boehner calls for White House to release Benghazi emails

(CNN) – House Speaker John Boehner called on President Obama to release emails that he says show how the White House wanted to change the Benghazi attack "talking points."

Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, vowed Thursday to "leave no stone unturned" in looking into the matter and answering questions about the attack.

At a press conference Thursday, Boehner said he wants the White House to unveil emails to the public that House committees saw privately in their Benghazi investigation.

"The White House continues to claim it only made stylistic changes to talking points used by (U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) Susan Rice, ignoring the fact that seniors White House officials directed the changes being made to those talking points," Boehner said.

House Republican leaders last month released a report on the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound, which left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead. The report claimed White House and State Department personnel deliberately altered talking points put together by the intelligence community about what transpired in Libya to remove any references to extremist groups linked to al Qaeda.

This was done, the report concludes, to avoid embarrassing the State Department for missing any early warnings.

Days after the attack, Rice used the talking points on several Sunday morning news shows and said the attack originated from a protest outside of the compound. The intelligence community later said the violence was actually a terrorist attack.

Obama administration officials previously acknowledged that they did alter the talking points in an effort to preserve classified information and avoid any impact on the FBI investigation of the attack.

But the House GOP report indicated that House committees reviewed email traffic about those draft talking points and found no evidence that anyone within the administration raised any red flags about securing classified information.

Boehner also called Thursday for the disclosure of an email from a top State Department official from the day after the attack. The email, Boehner said, refers to "Islamic terrorists" as carrying out the attack.

"A senior State Department official emailed her superiors that the Libyan ambassador, she had told the Libyan ambassador, the attack was conducted by Islamic terrorists. The State Department would not allow our committees to keep copies of this email when it was reviewed," Boehner said.

At Wednesday's House hearing on Benghazi, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina read an excerpt from the email, sent from Beth Jones, the acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department.

"'I spoke to the Libyan ambassador and emphasized the importance of Libyan leaders continuing to make strong statements'," he read aloud, adding that the email was sent the day after Benghazi and several days before Rice's television appearance. "'When he said his government suspected that former Gadhafi regime elements carried out the attacks I told him that the group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists.' Let me say that again…she told him, the State Department on September 12th, days before our ambassador went on national television, is telling the ambassador to Libya the group that conducted the attacks Ansar al-Sharia is affiliated with Islamic terrorists."

The State Department has maintained that they've been defining the violence as a terrorist attack since September 12. State Department officials were surprised to hear Rice describing it as a spontaneous attack that came from a demonstration.

Speaking from Rome, Secretary Kerry, who assumed his position after the Benghazi attack, said he is determined to get answers to questions and put the issue "to bed."

"And if there is any culpability in any area that is appropriate to be handled in some way with some discipline it will be appropriately handled," he said at a press conference. "I am confident that any recent, uh, recent evidence will be a component of that consideration. So let's wait until we get back to the United States and I get a chance to catch up to the full measure of what took place."

– CNN's Deirdre Walsh, Jill Dougherty and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: John Boehner • John Kerry • Libya • State Department
soundoff (194 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    "House Speaker John Boehner called on President Obama to release emails that he says show how the White House wanted to change the Benghazi attack "talking points.""
    -------------------------–
    Has anyone noticed how absurd that request sounds? "Show us emails that say exactly this." So when the White House does not produce emails that say exactly "this", then the right wing howls about a cover up. Come on, man.

    May 9, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  2. RF

    Nothing here Rebublicans move on please!

    May 9, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. Pam from Iowa

    Boehner would certainly know how "talking points" can be set!!!
    Remember the January 2003 State of the Union address when GW said Iraq purchased yellowcake from Nigeria even though Wilson had already proved that to be wrong well before January??
    Where was your anger then Boehner?
    This is NOTHING compared to what the previous admin did! Thousands of our soldiers, and thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians died because of their "talking points"!

    May 9, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Why weren't these things requested in the first place if they are so important and contain such key information? Boehner's just setting up the "omg, he said no....COVER UP!!!!" accusation. It's like playing talking point t-ball with the GOP/Teatroll base...

    May 9, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    Ooops. Benghazi as the new Watergate didn't go to well yesterday, huh?
    Witchhunts never do.

    May 9, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. smith

    What are dems and liberals so afraid of?...If a repub. was POTUS micheal moore would make a movie about this saying it was an inside job to justify an invasion of Sweeden to steal their cheese.

    May 9, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. ghostwriter

    "The report claimed White House and State Department personnel deliberately altered talking points put together by the intelligence community about what transpired in Libya to remove any references to extremist groups linked to al Qaeda. This was done, the report concludes, to avoid embarrassing the State Department for missing any early warnings."

    Funny, I thought they did it because Obama didn't want to admit that it was a terrorist attack before the election. This is what happens when you decide to create a theory and then look for evidence to support your theory as opposed to looking at the evidence and then creating a theory.

    The reason for the "cover up" changes with the wind. And are as shaky as the allegations of a cover up itsefl.

    May 9, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. Warren

    More waste of time. Back to gun control or jobs. I think these people have better things to be doing.

    May 9, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. THE TRUTH

    Your tripe is ungodly pungent, first, you have no common sense, not a gi joe, and lack the ability realize your not fooling anyone, you can change your name, but that sespool you call a mind, is hard to miss, as much as you want people to focus on 4 deaths (shared blame) whileignoring the fact that dick and george sent innocent children to die for the almighty dollar, you have ZERO credibility loser, why dont you grtba job or something. your mind is truly disgusting, i feel bad for you, i can just turn you off, but your stuck with yourself pal.haha

    May 9, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. Safejourney

    And again Boehner is wasting more of Americans money by voting to repeal Obamacare for the 39th time. Will someone PLEASE vote this Boehner out of Office

    May 9, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. John

    Sniffit – they were requested. The request was initially ignored. Now this administration says "Bengaze was a long time ago"...

    May 9, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. Tom

    I hope Rep. Boehner isn't holding his breath waiting for this to happen.

    May 9, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. ghostwriter

    OK, which is it? Was it done for the election or to keep the public from knowing that they denied security.

    May 9, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  14. Vijay

    Congress is still after those Bengazi e-mails. What do they expect to accomplish, unless it is to emberass Clinton and Obama. There is not legislation on the table to provide more resour and plan for the protection of our people at the most vulnerable embasies and consulates. Election is over GOP, get to some constructive legislation.

    May 9, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. Name lynn

    Joe you cant come to agreement with the white leaders now you asking the president to hand over emails. You got to be kidding man please.

    May 9, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. THE TRUTH

    The gop setting themselves up for anoother presidential loss, if this is all you have got, man are you in deep doo doo.

    May 9, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    So sad people don't want the truth. We are responsible to hold our government accountable, even democrats. Drones!!!

    May 9, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. MrBeenThere

    People To Boehner: Where are the Jobs in 2010 you promised ???????????????????

    May 9, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. ghostwriter

    Here's the issue. They already explained who changed the talking points and why. But beyond that, republicans are acting as though there was no reason to believe that the video was responsible. That's hardly the point, though. The point is that after this last hearing, the reasons for the cover up have been all over the place.

    Republicans can't prove it was a lie as opposed to protecting interests. They mention that they found no e-mail suggesting chaning talking points to protect interests (of the investigation). Yet, they didn't find any e-mails telling them to change talking points for ANY reason. The best they could come up with is an e-mail from a senior official stating SHE believe it to be a terrorist attack.

    Now, if you can't take the word of the Sec of State, the Sec of Defense (or whatever Panetta was), the CIA, etc.....then there is not much more we can do for you.

    I have an idea....let's vote on whether to proceed. And for kicks and gigles, to move forward with more investigations, they will need 60% of the house to agree.

    May 9, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  20. TommytheT

    wait for it, wait for it...and here it comes, the Executive Privilege cover up excuse. This whole episode stinks to high heaven and any Citizen of this great country not concerned or upset is just not paying attention or has surrendered all their rights and responsibility to a central group of politicians that do not need to be accountable to them.

    May 9, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  21. just sayin

    B.
    The most pathetic example of Speaker of the House in our history.
    These people have but one agenda, stop everything the President puts forth, everything..
    ----

    there is nothing to stop as obama did nothing to help these 4 americans. the republicans are trying to stop this incompetent administrationfrom getting even more americans killed. they have become too good at this and it must be stopped.

    May 9, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  22. PaulCat

    Whenever Boehner shows up on TV its never anything positive.

    Boehner "WMD's.
    Say what?

    May 9, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  23. Sam Wilson

    I am just wondering why all the hard lift liberal voters do not want to really find out what really happened and why? They even go as far as to Blame Bush still after 5 years of having Obama in charge. What is the deal with that? The excuses these people make for their promotion of avoiding the issue are feeble and sad like most excuses that people make when trying to defend that which should not be defended.

    May 9, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  24. Bill Zimmerman

    Now House Speaker Boehner wants to get into the act. He has more pressing issues, like getting his Caucus more in line with the American people. The GOP have lost their aura and they are trying so hard to get it back.

    May 9, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  25. jim

    Boehner – you really have nothing better to do? Are you kidding? Witch hunt to end all witch hunts...

    May 9, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
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