Boehner calls for White House to release Benghazi emails
May 9th, 2013
11:55 AM ET
5 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. peace

    Under Bush we went to war with Iraq because of wmd/but we did not find any there made war on another country/ you figure it out.

    May 9, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  2. Jules

    Have all the documents the Bush administration received from the Clinton administration regarding Bin Laden using airplanes to attack us and that they believed those meant to carry out that mission were already in this country. Where's the GOP outrage over that one. Condi Rice was approved as Sec. of State with that on her record as National Security Advisor to the President. This is politics pure and simple the same way every single thing the GOP does to the Obama Administration every chance it gets. The only way to get these yokels to be about the people's business is to not put them in control of anything.

    May 9, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. ST

    I get difficulties to understand the logic in Boehner saying House Committee saw emails while doing investigation on Benghazi, and the White House must show them to the public. If the committee was serious in doing their job, and thought they saw something important to be seen by other people, why didn't they take copies of emails then?

    May 9, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  4. rconatser1

    The whole GOP mantra is "make Obama fail," not "help America succeed." This is disgusting. I'm tired of their obstructionism and complete disregard for the average taxpayer. They are going to lose their relevance, but by then we may not be able to recover from the wreckage, if we ever recover froim eight years of W. in the first place.

    May 9, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. Thatguy371

    American people to Boehner: "Start working for the American people!"

    May 9, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. william reed

    With mid-term elections staring them in the face, Republicans are ramping up the blame machine to full blast, hoping that will deflect attention from their miserable performance in Congress. Maybe it'll work in South Carolina.

    May 9, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. The need to know...

    The Government by the people for the people needs to be forthcoming with the people..."Americans want to know what really happened in Benghazi"..........period..!

    May 9, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  8. TheTraveler

    Well sure, Boehner speaks out now on the issue. Why? Because he has to show he has the testosterone to say SOMETHING, ANYTHING. The guy is as effective in his leadership of the GOP as a screen door is in a submarine.

    The Republicans voted to defund security for overseas embassies and it's a matter of public record. Check around October of 2012 for relevant information. So, if one is accountable, they are ALL ACCOUNTABLE. Hang one, hang them all.

    May 9, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. rs

    Jobs, Boehner, remember the jobs!
    Meanwhile before Bengahzi, you need to micro manage the investigations into the 12 embassy attacks that occured under Bush that resulted in 55 American deaths. Or, don't those count?

    May 9, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. JOEYSMUG we go again. So, they don't actually care about the victims, which this request shows. They are more interested in the "talk points" then rather how to prevent this from happening again. How are the "talking points" going to help the victims family? The response by the military had nothing to do with "talking-points"

    May 9, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. Obama lies as more and more Americans DIE

    Obama administration knowingly sells weapons to Mexican drug cartel members across international borders, without the knowledge and consent of the Mexican government, resulting in the death of countless Mexicans as well as a US Border Agent. Democrats scream WITCH HUNT!!

    Obama administration cuts security for diplomats in a known terrorist haven then refuse to send help when they are attacked, in the middle of a presidential election, on the anniversary of 9/11, then they concoct a story and lie to the world and the American people so their election narrative doesn't collapse around their ears. 4 Americans dead, including our ambassador. Democrats scream WITCH HUNT!!

    How many more people will this incompetent administration get killed before people wake up? Will you or your kids be next? Is that what it will take?

    May 9, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  12. rs


    Just read BO and Hillary their miranda warnings and file the charges. Disgusting behavior by both and an embarrassment to their offices and the Amercian people.
    Nevermind the utter lack of evidence of anything appraoching something impeachable, this reflects the completely delusional nature of the Right.

    May 9, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. bigD

    Boehner forgot his tin-foil hat.

    May 9, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |

    Eight years of bush has broke us, depleted our military, and took rights away, only a fool would support that

    May 9, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  15. rs

    Common Sense

    People died, the administration lied = COVER UP
    Get back to me after you complete the Bush body count.

    May 9, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  16. Chris

    They are investigating this because if there was a known cover-up of the cause of these diplomats deaths, this could be an impeachable offense to rival even that of Nixon's actions. Obama is failing on his own, the Republicans are just making sure that the press do their job and not let this kind of thing go unnoticed. You bet that the Republicans are being obstructive; Obama passed the largest entitlement legislation in history (Obamacare) with slightly less than half of the population in favor of it.

    May 9, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  17. joe

    both parties have turned on the American people. I suggest you go out and talk to your neighbor about how we take our country back.

    May 9, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. CraigRB

    There were 7 terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies & consulates during the Bush administration and 3000 people were killed on Bush's watch during the 9/11 attacks. Our facilities were also attacked during the Carter, Reagan & Clinton administrations. Nothing is going to come of any Benghazi investigation except the excitement it stirs up over at FOX.

    May 9, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. marctheduck

    A sick administration. They would not have lost face in beefing up security at Benghazi – or even shutting down the mission. It definitely would not have changed the election results. They took a huge chance for little potential payoff and they miscalculated hugely. All I can do is shake my head. BTW, isn't having Kerry investigate this about the same as having Hillary investigate it? "What difference does it make now?"

    May 9, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  20. DBL STD

    The point of the investigation is to determine who you should believe. If our state department is deliberately lying to us, this person should not be representing us in any capacity. For those who say, "well GW did it" or some other previous adminsitration did it, republiican or dem, it does not make it OK. This is an argument I have with my 8yr old. How about having people we can trust to do the right thing. However, I do concede that often in politics you are picking the lessor of two evils.

    May 9, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  21. Justice

    The Republicans are making a big deal out of this that goes way beyond the norm. Like this was bigger than GW Bush's failure to stop 911. Not to mention lying about going to war with Iraq where ten of thousands were killed and wounded. The party of hate just can't get over they lost the last election and you know what? At this rate they will never win another election anytime soon.

    May 9, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  22. BBould

    Bush lied now Obama lied, whats new?

    May 9, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. Happy

    It's sad that Boehner has to do the job of the media. It's good CNN is reporting Boehner's request but sad that CNN appears to have no curiosity about those e-mails themselves. If you look at the timeline, what was said when, it's hard if not impossible not to conclude some type of cover-up was in play for the election. God forbid the American people learn of a terrorist attack! Crucify Nixon, praise Obama. My oh my how far we've come in this country.

    May 9, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. B

    hey peace: i'm trying to "figure it out". Democrats had control of the house and senate since 2006 and had a super majority for 2 of the years. that's 7 years now. From what I understand, the democratically controlled congress voted to goto war in Iraq. If they voted for the war because of a "lie", why haven't they held Bush and Cheney responsible when they had, and still do have the power to. They haven't even tried? That's what I'm trying to figure out? it's so obvious to every liberal that bush and cheney committed crimes and murdered over 4000 people? Are the democrats so indifferent to murder that they don't feel the need to go after the "criminal" bush administration? do you think the democrats planned to commit murder too, and didn't want to get into a tit for tat? Please help me figure it out. You seem to imply that you know, so please help me? Thanks in advance.

    May 9, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    Bush lied and over 100,000 died.........oh, but they were not diplomats on American Soldiers (that Republicans see as fodder) and Iraqis. John Boehner should be worried about the economy and let the State Department or Justice Department find out why and how we failed to protect the Ambassador in Libya

    May 9, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8