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. amacd385

    Regarding the minor incident that occurred in Benghazi, it is becoming very clear that the Secret Global Empire, the disguised corporate, financial, militarist, media, legal, and political Global EMPIRE, which had 'captured' and now fully "Occupies" our former country (and other power structures; U.K., Germany, Israel, France, NATO, IMF, Exxon, B of A, Boeing, et al.), by hiding behind the facade of its 'bought and owned', modernized, and sophisticated, TWO-Party 'Vichy' sham of faux-democratic and totally illegitimate government -- just as surely as the earlier Nazi EMPIRE tried less successfully to hide behind its cruder and first generation, single-party Vichy phony government in 'captured' and Occupied France c. 1940 -- has decided that the time has come to expose and destroy the credibility of both of the Empire's previously smooth-working soft-totalitarian (or "inverted totalitarian") [Sheldon Wolin] Vichy parties, and to move quite quickly now and to devolve to a rougher version of overt totalitarianism.

    The Empire's probable reasoning in using the Benghazi episode as a catalyst for its disposal of the multi-Vichy party facade of democracy is of no more consequence than its using of the miraculous discovery of the three Cleveland abducted women to cover-up the Israel sector of the Empire's expansion of the Middle East war in bombing Syria - namely, that the episode has the potential to spark and maintain emotional debate among deluded Americans sufficient to distract almost all attention away from the real event being initiated, which in the case of the SGE's Israeli bombing of Syria is to create full scale war in the Middle East and Central Asia, and in the case of the Congressional battle between Republican and Democrat Vichy tag-teams is to tar both parties as being below useless - and thus pave public support for a new unified government that will be more efficient and unified (which the SGE requires to grasp direct control).

    The particular episode used by the Empire's media sector to accomplish a goal is not important in its own right, but only to engender the necessary public fear, anger, conflict, emotion, and disguust (in the case of both parties, Congress, and the Presidential administration fighting over Benghazi to accomplish the SGE's goal).

    Best to all in non-violently confronting and surviving the SGE,

    Alan MacDonald

    Sanford, Maine

    May 9, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  2. Tom

    I Dont understand. Why is everyone affraid of learning the truth? I would like to know what really happened.

    May 9, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. ru kidden me

    These politicians, especially Boehner should be rounded up and sent to BenGhazi maybe then they can do something productive.

    May 9, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    What difference does it make you ask Hillary?

    To know the facts about what happened here can help in future incidents. This is an obvious fact. Learn from history. Try it once democrats.

    May 9, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. LongISlandJew

    Baracko and Clinton are up to their necks in quicksand. The lies are snowballing and Baracks nose grows every time he speaks. Incompetence at its worst. You get what you vote for folks.

    May 9, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  6. Say what?

    Can we beat a dead horse some more? GOP wont ever let it go...if GOP believed there to be something, then start the grounds to impeach. if not, then let it go...

    May 9, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. goblackhawks

    I love you folks attacking Boehner. We have 4 dead Americans and 1 man in jail for making a video ... Where is Hollywood ? You folks make me sick .... Anything to Protect Obama and Hillary ... are DEMS or AMERICANS ... No one died in Watergate and that was a huge scandal ... SHAME ON YOU ... and the press for not covering this in full .. 8 months later and there still are questions ...

    May 9, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. eddieb

    the whole thing is making me hate the GOP event more how come they didn't act like this with the war in Iraq and anll the men and women we lost there please create some jobs would ya you all are wasting our tax dollars on this.

    May 9, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. ironman59

    When the gop is willing to discuss all of the embassy staff killed during "W"'s 8 years in office then we can discuss what happened in Bengahzi. Until then it is nothing more of a witch hunt. The gop & their media supports never said a word about those attacks and combined it was around 60 dead. When you have as much outrage for their deaths then someone might believe you actually care about the people and not the political ammunition it generates.

    May 9, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Let's face it, the GOPT's obsession over Benghazi is nothing more than a partisan smear campaign for political gain. Shortly following this tragedy, the father of Ambassador Stevens and Ms. Barbara Doherty, mother of Navy Seal Glen Doherty asked Mitt Romney to stop using her son's name on the campaign trail for political gain. yet, Mr. Issa, Boehner and the GOPT continue to beat a dead horse over the tragedy for political gain. Shame on you all.

    The Mr. Gregory Hicks and the GOPT claimed that the Benghazi attacks were carried about by a militant group affiliated with al-Qaeda but they're yet to tell us the name of the militant group so we can go after them. And since when does al-Qaeda NOT take credit for an attack? However, if the attacks were indeed planned by a militant group, then shouldn't that intelligence come from the Pentagon? And by the way, who was head of the Pentagon when the attack occured? Well, I totally agree that the whole thing was a cover-up because when the attacks were supposedely being planned, head of the CIA David Patereaus was COVERED-UP under the sheets with one woman, while the other woman was allowed to gain unlimited access to classified information. So why not put Mr. Patreaus under the miscrospope? Why the lies, hypocrisy and shameless deceitfulness

    May 9, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. john

    @Roger Smith

    I don't mind an investigation being done, it's the fact that when one party is investigating the other party, it just never ends. It just goes on and on and on, and most of the time nothing ever comes of it. No matter who is doing the investigating.

    May 9, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  12. dave

    and yet no worry about the thousands of americans dying in iraq every year?

    May 9, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  13. Sniffit

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

    which is exactly what their cover up is meant to do"

    Right...lack of proof of the conspiracy is proof of the conspiracy. Just more "elephants in the strawberry patch" syndrome.

    May 9, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. shawski2013

    Why does he want the emails? He won't understand them anyway.

    May 9, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. Bob Dole Jr.

    I really find it hilarious that GOP continues to do absolutely nothing in Washington except beat this dead horse. I'm sure by now everyone realises that under Dubyah at least a dozen embassies where attacked across the globe with about 15 US diplomats losing their lives. 3 hearings total for all the attacks happened. Thats it. The outrage is because GOP is full of a bunch of retards who are treating our government like highschool.

    Side note, maybe GOP shouldn't have voted to reduce the funding requested by the Security Commision which would have been used to provide more support to embassies such as the one in Benghazi.

    But I digress, let us continue to point fingers at the Obama Administration and not focus on actual issues such as crumbling infrastructure, defunding of science and education programs, etc..

    May 9, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. Shawn

    I can't believe we have an administration that has perpetuated such a cover-up. Worse, I can't believe there are actually Americans that don't care. This is not about politics; this is right and wrong. People died and our government lied to us, and to the families of the fallen. Meanwhile, we locked a guy up on technicalities for exercising his 1St Amendment rights by creating a video. Our government also publicly blamed the death of these Americans on that video even though they knew it was a lie. Keep in mind that this lie caused unrest, which resulted in numerous other attacks around the world. Although I don't agree with the contents of the video, we do have freedom of speech. Many of my brothers in arms have died defending that right. I have worked for the government for 25 years and have never witnessed such an abuse of power. Folks, please wake up...this is a big deal. You need to hold your government accountable, republican or democrat.

    May 9, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  17. dt

    I like watching Republicans get on the war path. They're too simple to understand they won the argument, they just dont know what the argument is. The administration has already openly admitted to being wrong about their initial response, not to mention the reasoning behind the killings being completely irrelevant. Someone want to try to explain how killing people over a movie, or over a religious movement are different? They arent. And reacting to the wrong assumption doesnt somehow equal a coverup. We knew almost immediately about the attacks, and I feel the logic behind the reporting was pretty sound. Then they were proven wrong. They said "oh geez look at that we were wrong, ok lets go get THESE bad guys". Not a coverup people.

    Also, someone want to explain how a "coverup" over who killed our embassador somehow helps the administration? I dont understand that at all. How would a terrorist hit be seen negatively against the Presidency? I would think the reaction would be what was judged. Right?

    May 9, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  18. dman

    Failures of the State Department, FBI, CIA, and the President's Administration? Blaming the wrong people after the attack? Are they opening up another investigation into 9/11?

    May 9, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. truth hurts but reality bites

    They need to form a select committee and start issuing subpenaos at this point. This has reached the highest parts of our government and the truth needs to come out. Obama and the Democrats will NOT be able to cover this up any longer and they need to come clean for the sake of the country and the families of these 4 dead Americans.

    "What does it matter at this point?!!" Seriously Hillary Clinton? Does the truth matter? Does the competence of our government matter?? Do the lives of our diplomats and Americans serving abroad matter??? Does it matter we did nothing or were able to do nothing to save or help them???? Does it matter that people that wanted to go and help them were told to NOT go and help them????

    May 9, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. Dave

    I want John Boehner to release all the Republican party's emails about Benghazi, too. Then we'll find out it's the witch-hunt perpetrators that are the real corruption in Washington.

    May 9, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Mr. Issa and Mr. Boehner, A, B and C comes before X, Y and Z. So can you please investigate why our national security was compromised on 9/11? Can you please tell us why the most secured building in the U.S. in the Pentagon was breached on 9/11? Why our jumbo jets were used as WMD? Why the Twin Towers fell in NYC under republican watch? What ever become of the WMDs in Iraq? Can you please tell us why after a decade, our troops are still trying to stabilize Afghanistan? The American people want to know. After all, we've waited over a decade for answers.

    May 9, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "8 months later and there still are questions ..."

    No...8 months later and you still just don't like that the answers weren't what you wanted them to be.

    May 9, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  23. Mack

    They blame Hillary and Obama instead of investigating WHO ACTUALLY KILLED THEM!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 9, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  24. NameFrank Deery

    Obama flew to Vegas the very day the news about Ambassador Stevens' unnecessary death broke. What was Obama's focus: fundraising to save his butt Nov 6. He let his
    spin staff, including Susan Rice, hang-with the media. He won in Vegas! But Not Boston! Second term .presidents usually
    have bad runs-but this one started way before Benghazi, which would have lost Obama his second, so far, horrendous term, had these "whistleblowers" been public then!
    Now, sadly, we have Obama for four years and the prospect of Hillary Clinton. The latter, however, has a history of spin and lies, from
    her husband, the Worst President in modern times! He even destroyed her chances against a neophyte Obama!

    Thank you Mr.Speaker!

    May 9, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  25. PaulCat


    ...........and how many were killed?????

    May 9, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
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