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. sly

    Ho ho ho ... haven't seen John 'I cry a lot in public' Bohner for awhile ... good to see you're back from that 4 month post-election vacation John.

    By the time the Repub's get done 'investigating', Benghazi will be a really nice tourist resort. Well, not for Americans though – all Arabs justifiably hate us and want to kill us, since we've murdered about 500,000 of them over the past few years.

    Oh, we aren't talking about the 500,000 dead women and children in the Middle East? We're talking about 1 dead white man? Oh .... really? Why?

    May 9, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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."

    Yeah, well, I'm waiting for Boehner to release GOPerville memo's showing the actual Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! programs they created since their 2010 Jobs campaign victory. Who knows, THAT might end up being the biggest "cover-up" scoop ever.

    May 9, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  3. bearitstrong

    The GOP will be plowing this field until the next election.

    May 9, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. rs

    "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."
    Well, so what would you have done? Take the only 4 in the security detail, and send them all they way across Libya from Tripoli to Bengahzi (400 miles) to do what? The attack was over! Then what happens to the Embassy in Tripoli if something happens there? I am sure you'd whine about that scenerio as well. Call in the planes from Italy? 3.5 hours at best, and what would they do in an urban environment?
    Face it, first, embassy and diplomatic security is the RESPONSIBILITY of the host nation, and the number of troops and security we can place is limited. Second, Stevens went from the defended Embassy in Tripoli to the undefended one in Bengahzi, no doubt for good reason and on State Dept. business. Did he need more security- in hindsight, no doubt, but once the attack occured, there weren't any good options. The man died in a building fire. The Libyan government couldn't help and we had no support on the ground. Period.
    This unfortunate event is little different from the 12 embassy attackes that occured under the previous administration that resulted in 55 deaths. Diplomacy is a dangerous job.
    Ask yourself why you care about these four dead brave Americans and not the previous 55- That is your answer.

    May 9, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. us_1776

    The GOP Suicide continues...


    May 9, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. vikingwoman

    I wish we'd seen this type of diligence when the Real 9/11 happened! I wish we'd had 8-10 committees uncovering every minutiae, turning over every rock, examining every detail! We could have saved so many lives & so much $$$! And before the critique over my choice of calling 9-11-01 the Real 9/11, Benghazi was a tragedy, but can in no way compare to 1 of the most horrific terrorist assault in human history! To try is disingenious & diminishes its impact, as well as the fall out of the wrong choices, made by the Bush admin, in the aftermath! At this time, this new partisan "whistleblower show" seems not so much about the tragedy in Benghazi, as yet another attempt to assign blame, preferably directly to Obama & Clinton, but at least some1 high in the admin! IOW, it's highly politicized!!

    May 9, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. robtemery

    In this years Queen's speech, the UK announced tougher rules on immigration for the same reasons our politicians including Biden want to through open the borders. So which ones are lying?

    May 9, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. Obama lies as more and more Americans DIE

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

    Hillary Clinton discredited HERSELF when she cut the security for those people after being begged to increase it.

    Hillary Clinton discredited HERSELF when she refused to send help to save those Americans while they were under attack.

    Hillary Clinton discredited HERSELF when she lied about the nature of the attack in order to save Obama's and her political skin.

    Hillary Clinton discredited HERSELF when she lied to Congress during her testimony.

    Hillary Clinton discredited HERSELF when she refused to be interviewed by the ARB. She spoke to Hicks at 2am she she was involved and should have been interviewed. The fact that she was not interviewed is absolutely a cover up.

    May 9, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. donald reid

    Boehner has no balls like diplomats do...

    May 9, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. hiruu

    Perhaps one of the "truth of Benghazi" supporters can explain to me what exactly they are trying to find out about? I can assure you that making the consulate in Benghazi more "secure" against the kind of attack it experienced is complete garbage. The most secure way to secure that facility would have been for The Ambassador to have his but in Tripoli.

    May 9, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "Boehner forgot his tin-foil hat."

    He forgot it by the wet bar after using it as a funnel to fill his afternoon flask.

    May 9, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  12. Hamburger Jones

    FBI Attn: 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.

    This kind of foolishness is wrecking our country. What FOX/GOP is selling here just isn't truth. They are hoping to whip their crazy element into another WACO. Boehner's evil.

    May 9, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. MDUB

    I wish they would just work on helping this country. Fix the budget. Fix the health care. Fix poverty. Fix the economy. Do something!! Stop doing nothing!

    May 9, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  14. Brian

    I'm sorry. I must have missed it. I understand we are investigating the deaths of four Americans who were doing their duty in an unstable region of the world. When will the hearing be scheduled to investigate the murders of 20 schoolchildren or the hundreds of dead Chicagoans due to gun violence?

    *sound of crickets chirping*

    May 9, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  15. cribbooky

    Justice is so right. People dying and information cover ups is no big deal. Now if someone had taken an awkward drink of water during a speech, THAT would be something to hammer in the headlines.

    May 9, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    When are we going to have an oversight committee hearing on the failures of the 9/11 attacks on our mainland? On the illegitimate Iraqi war and the deliberate lies over bogus and non existent WMDs that have taken the lives of thousands of our trops in Iraq and continue to result in casualties in Afghanistan because that war was deliberately and recklessly abandoned and prolonged for the invasion of Iraq? Where's the outrage over the failures and lies of the Bush administration? I believe the parents of the thousands of dead American soldiers want answers Mr. Boehnner. I believe the families of the over 3000 dead Americans on 9/11 want answers too.

    May 9, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. to the White House press corp

    President Obama – "I can tell you that immediately upon finding out that our folks were in danger, that my orders to my National Security team were do whatever we need to do to make sure they’re safe. And that’s the same order that I would give anytime that I see Americans are in danger, whether they’re civilian or military, because that’s our number one priority."
    The person we want to find is the one who issued the "stand down order" to the miltary contradicting the Pres statement. Somebody in the WH press corp ask Carney the following questions

    The President ordered the NSA to do what it takes to protect Americans
    Who issued the stand down order to the military?
    What was the presidents reaction to hearing about the stand down order?
    Is it concerning to the President that his order as commander in chief was overturned?

    May 9, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  18. just sayin

    Nevermind the utter lack of evidence of anything appraoching something impeachable,

    which is exactly what their cover up is meant to do. usually an independent press would be all over something like this but as obama and hillary are their hand picked golden children, they must protect them at all costs. instead of hundreds, nay thousands, of people digging into what happened, you have thousands in the lsm now conspiring to bury the truth of what happened. our democracy is more endangered than ever america. the leftists have almost succeeded in turning our journalists into leftist propaganda machines.

    May 9, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  19. Greg

    This is getting ugly for the Obama Admin! Just luck Bill Clinton lied but the truth will come out soon.. but this time people died!

    May 9, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. brian

    not to excuse the situation, but can we ship boehner over to benghazi to get the emails? i like that plan

    May 9, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  21. Larry the Liberal

    Boozer need to do something positive for this country. LIKE RETIRE.

    May 9, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  22. jim

    I wish they focused this much effort on jobs and helping the people that got them elected. What a bunch of do nothings.
    The bad thing is this is setting the stage for all futuer Presidents and administration. The days of both sides working
    togeter for the people is over!!

    May 9, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  23. Google man

    To make Obama fail is to make America succeed! Obama is destroying our country, the family, our business, our jobs ......

    May 9, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. Liberal sense

    Clinton was impeached for lying/less.

    Just saying.

    May 9, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. So sick of this....

    Some will never accept much less come to grips with the fact that Obama is the real deal...if there was ANYTHING in his past that could be used to discredit him, it would have been discovered by now. Benghazi was a terrible tragedy but we've suffered many others far greater and still waiting for the details to surface...

    May 9, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
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