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. Steve

    How is going to use those to continue to see the congress does nothing?

    May 9, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  2. smith

    A lot liberal posts on this subject wreak of fear and denial

    May 9, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. Dean

    4 dead Americans that Obama and Clinton let die because there was an election coming up and Obama had already made a trip around the world appologizing for the evil of America and now everone loves us. I agree with Dems this is not bigger then Watergate. During Watergate no one died.

    May 9, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. TommytheT

    any one else saddened that many of the comments revolve not around the issue but trying to have us be distracted by something else....as if that excuses what seems to have occurred here. But sadly been standard operating Procedure for the last 4 years or so.

    May 9, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. DumbasRocks [R]s

    Boehner has one thumb in his mouth and the other in his nether regions, and he's playing 'switch'.

    There was absolutely nothing new heard at the hearing.....so what are the Teatards now saying?.....why of course, "there's more to the story".

    You'd have to be a slackjawed uberpartisan drama queen to be fooled by this nonsense.

    May 9, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  6. Dallas

    Oh for the love of God, move on. The American people could hold all of you responsible for the debacle you led called IRAQ yet not one of you says a word about that – when are Bush and Cheney going to be charged? Let this go – there is no smoking gun – start doing what you were elected to do. We all know the real reason you are forging ahead with this BS – you have nothing else! Show some maturity and MOVE ON!!!!

    May 9, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. Mr. Transparent, come clean please

    If the Obama administration has nothing to hide then they will cooperate fully and disclose these emails. They do NOT deal with secret information. These are political documents at this point since all factual information was scrubbed from the talking points. It is becoming painfully obvious that Obama and his political appointees lied horrendously to the American people in order to save their re-election campaign. And the LSM helped them every step of the way.

    May 9, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. Guest

    If only sweeping the truth under a rug was a union job, then you goofy Obama sheep would all have no reasons to not work.

    May 9, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. Roger Smith

    Similar to Hillary's fake "concussion" those emails will somehow be "Lost and unrecoverable."

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

    Liberals & the media can continue to try and cover up what happened in Bengazzi but I think the smart Americans can see the BS!

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

    Boemer is a perfect example of why our government doesn't work. He is all about himself. These idiots should stop pointing fingers and start doing their damn jobs!!! I don't care if your a democrat or a republican.

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

    Pretty obvious the change in talking points was to prevent any conflict with Obama's re-election claims of defeating al Qaeda. Dems definitely thought a terrorist attach was an election game changer.....

    May 9, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. General Tso

    4 dead Americans. Perhaps @Rudy NYC can get over his partisanship and agree that we need to know everything that transpired that night. I feel confident if this was a Republican administration @ Rudy would be bellowing for answers.....

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

    There are several pieces of information that the public need to have access to and understand. Prior to the attack, what did the intelligence community know and was this information appropriately acted on? Did and does the State department access threats prior to putting its people in harms way and set up appropriate contingencies plans and assets? After the attack, who authorized and/or instructed Ambassador Rice to make the rounds, what information was she provided and did the person who controlled this info and her orders know better at the time? If the American people and the reviewing Congressional Committee was intentionally mislead with known at the time to be false statements, particularly just prior to an election, this makes a great deal of difference and should have a great deal of sunlight on it. This is particularly true given that the then Secretary of State may run for the Presidency and the American people need to fully understand if there are questions regarding her competence, people judgement or commitment to the peoples right to know the facts. This is true regardless of political motivations, the Iran-Contra and Whitewater hearings were both politically motivated, but they provided important facts to the American people none the less. If the e-mails help clarify the facts, I would like them to be public

    May 9, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. JLS

    I want to know the truth.

    May 9, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. Matt

    Pam from Iowa, where's your anger now?
    If you felt it was so outrageous for the Bush administration to ignore one person's report when speaking to the American people, why are you not outraged now when Obama's people ignore what appears to be every witness to what happened?

    May 9, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  17. freedom

    It's about time! Any democrat in office who tries to discredit those brave, strong men who testified yesterday have no place in our government. If you don't want to protect our country, then get out of office – and while you're at it – leave the country.

    May 9, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. Mr. Transparent, come clean please

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

    Why can't it be both? Concealing incompetence during your election campaign helps it as well. I can't believe I have to explain this to you.

    May 9, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  19. Seth

    This whole charade is a weak attempt to discredit Hillary for her 2016 run. Nothing more. The GOP is worthless.

    May 9, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  20. Roger Smith

    Pam from Iowa, Its not abut George Bush. Its about the Obama Administration cover-up and lies to the American people about what happened in Benghazi. George Bush is long gone and cringing him up is not a defense, but an attempt to change the subject from something most Americans find highly significant. Its funny, how the libs just don't want this investigation to continue. You if have nothing to hide, you show be all for getting at the truth.

    May 9, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. maximusvad

    If he could only put as much action into his job getting things done for his country as he does for looking for dirt on others... 20 American soldiers died last month.....investigate that !

    May 9, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  22. Jdubba

    So here are our Republicans, supposed champions of America, it's values, freedom, blah-blah....taking this ridiculous Benghazi thing to a place that is so obscure and pointless, I'm again embarassed to be an American citizen based on the actions of those we've elected. I love this country but I'm ashamed of it's political system. If the Republicans took on something valid and true to our American core...oh, um, let's try child hunger, poverty, and illness in America, from which thousands of little kids perish each year, I might be able to listen to their current political drivel with a lazy ear. Right now, their talking about the deaths of 4 people, in a hostile and war torn foreign country, where there are conflicting reports on who advised who to do what. Let's face it, someone screwed up but it's stone cold ridiculous that anyone is making this a hot issue. Shame on you, Tan Johnny B, shame on your party, and shame on anyone who has such poor ethics and poor intelleigence to support and vote for you.

    May 9, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  23. Paula

    Why is this the only article CNN has about the hearings yesterday? The testimony was riveting.

    May 9, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  24. Gabbo

    Liberals in complete denial. This are the same cretins who whined about "Bush Lying" for 8 years non-stop ....but they are happy to help coverup for liar's Clinton and Obama ??

    May 9, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  25. Jdubba

    So here are our Republicans, supposed champions of America, it's values, freedom, blah-blah....taking this ridiculous Benghazi thing to a place that is so obscure and pointless, I'm again embarassed to be an American citizen based on the actions of those we've elected. I love this country but I'm ashamed of it's political system. If the Republicans took on something valid and true to our American core...oh, um, let's try child hunger, poverty, and illness in America, from which thousands of little kids perish each year, I might be able to listen to their current political drivel with a lazy ear. Right now, their talking about the deaths of 4 people, in a hostile and war torn foreign country, where there are conflicting reports on who advised who to do what. Let's face it, someone screwed up but it's stone cold ridiculous that anyone is making this a hot issue. Shame on you, Tan Johnny B, shame on your party, and shame on anyone who has such poor ethics and poor intelleigence to support and vote for you

    May 9, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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