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. Al

    If this would have happened during a Republican President, would the media be so willing to keep their backs turned and ignore the cover up?

    May 9, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  2. Craig in Pa.

    While we are looking into this...let's go back to the previous administration and count the dead and number of attacks on US Embassies during that period. We didn't raise this much stink about it then, but if we had...Benghazi might not have happened. I am tired of paying taxes to pay the salaries of these idiots in Washington to hash over and over the same old crap all the time. It is time to boot them out and put people in there that can move past all this obstructionism and make forward progress....the past is gone, you cannot re-live it.......this is nothing more than showboating by the republicans and hopefully it all blows up in their faces.....

    May 9, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  3. ru kidden me

    "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."

    Your right look at what the republicans had in Bush....DOH!

    May 9, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  4. Booger

    He look's like he's about to cry.

    May 9, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  5. dt

    I also dont understand the feigned confusion. Do people really feel they dont know what happened? I guess if you ask a ridiculous question loud enough, someone will go looking for an answer.

    We're at WAR people. Stop acting shocked when the enemy uses bullets. Yea, people died. Its because they were killed. What if you found out it really WAS because of the movie, or something else? Would that make finding the killer less important? You all spit on the memory of our soldiers when you use a corpse for political gain. Its sick.

    May 9, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  6. dd

    It looks like massive corruption led by Clinton and Obama has been revealed. Maybe the House will impeach Obama and jail him with Clinton for crimes against the American people, lying to Congress and the people, and letting Americans die so that Obama could get reelected.

    May 9, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. ru kidden me


    @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."

    and that's ok that our elected officials do nothing but play round robin? What about the REAL issues.......that's ok we will just blame it on the President because we are too weak to admit that our elected representatives are WORTH LESS!

    May 9, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  8. Jesus Christ Superstar


    If you don't know by now what happened, you probably shouldn't be commenting on stories like this. We ALL know what happened. I'm not sure how you don't

    May 9, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. Steve S

    While the death of 4 Americans in Libya is certainly tragic, and probably avoidable.
    I don't recall the GOP calling for a major investigation of the Iraq War, despite a death toll a thousand times greater than Benghazi??

    May 9, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  10. FLIndependent

    This just proves that the Repubs have nothing to offer this country and are repeating history with another witch hunt like they did with President Clinton. This is ALL about 2014 & 16 and no one can tell us that it isn't. Yes, the Benghazi situation could have probably been handled differently and measures should be put in place to help prevent another situation, but there was no cover up. Remember, the President indicated it was terrorists that carried it out when he spoke the next day in the Rose Garden and this was brought out in the debate with Romney – how could anyone forget what a fool Romney made of himself over this! If only our government would work together for the betterment of the nation instead of continuously trying to tear down the other party – it is getting old and is beyond frustrating. If anything makes us look weak to other countries it is this constant nitpicking. Funny how Repubs have no problem wasting tax payer money of these dog & pony shows!!

    May 9, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. Randy, San Francisco

    No matter what facts surface from these numerous investigations, conspiracy theorists and anti-Obama haters will never be satisfied. Too many conservative political talk show entertainers and Repubican politicians make a fortune or career out of these incidents.

    May 9, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  12. wake up

    The White house and the Stae Department lied. If anyone should be sent to Benghazi it should be that crew. Those people were refused security and were left to die. As far as the decision to not send help, who knew how long the attacks would go on. This administration has no ehtics nor does it care about the people defending this country.

    May 9, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. Dede Muir

    Jason Chaffetz admits House GOP cut funding for embassy security ' You have to prioritize things'

    May 9, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. Joe P

    Just visited DC and got to tour the Capital. When I saw Boehner's office door, I could feel the anger welling up in me. The GOP represents what is wrong in this country right now. They are not working for "the people" only their own special interests. It sickens me. They simply can't stand that the economy is doing better now under Obama. The irrational hatred for this President just keeps them looking for distractions so they don't have to support the changes he could make to put us on a faster road to recovery. Shame on the GOP. I will show my disgust at the polls in 2014.

    May 9, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. mike

    Al, the media DID turn its back on Bush administration misdeeds. Cheney et al. should be in jail for fabricating the Iraq evidence...

    May 9, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. Matthew Jones

    So far, the "Whistleblowers" have provided no new information. Still sounds like a tragic event that everyone was trying to get straight. This is a witch hunt by the GOP, who is deathly afraid of Hillary Clinton 2016.

    May 9, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. TM

    Dealing with this issue, Boston, etc is much easier than doing their job of creating a budget. If they would spend as much time working as trying to find fault with others, we all would be much better off.

    May 9, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "Do people really feel they dont know what happened?"

    No, they don't. They feel angry that the answers haven't been what they wanted them to be. They express that as "we still don't know," because they simple reject, ignore and pretend the answers they don't like simply don't exist.

    May 9, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  19. mattski

    Boehner and I don't often agree, but this time we do.

    May 9, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. Dave

    "Maybe the House will impeach Obama and jail him with Clinton for crimes against the American people, lying to Congress and the people, and letting Americans die so that Obama could get reelected."

    Your statement makes no sense at all. Whether or not Obama mischaracterized the nature of the attacks for purposes of political spin (which is really what he's been accused of doing, when you get right down to it) he didn't cause people to die with his statements. His statements were made AFTER they died, not BEFORE. You do understand how cause and effect works, right?

    May 9, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  21. kylefromohio

    Get back to the real business of American and debate about getting more JOBS for the people of the USA. Speaking of real in War comes Death in many ways, get over IT. Notice the people asking the question the most have never been close to a active War Zone!

    May 9, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. Patrick

    For all you comparing body counts to Iraq, you are missing the point. The incompetence of those involved is one thing and may be forgivable. It's the fact that they allegedly altered talking points and tried to sell a fabricated story to the American public right before an election. That should make even lifetime Democrats as well as Republicans infuriated. If this testimony is true, then the State Dept and Obama himself will have egg on their faces.

    May 9, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  23. Moonraker

    So the GOP witch hunt continues. Of course Mr. Fun (Boehner) wants letters. They are all so fearful that Hilary is going to run in 2016 that they are obsessing over Benghazi and crying "Conspiracy!" It's this kind of behavior that lost them two elections.

    May 9, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. kylefromohio

    The Election is Over Guys, And it would not have matter much if this so called truth came out. Just keep throwning Stuff on the wall something is bond to stick!!!

    May 9, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  25. The Truth

    June 14, 2002, U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan
    Suicide bomber kills 12 and injures 51.

    February 20, 2003, international diplomatic compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
    Truck bomb kills 17.

    February 28, 2003, U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan
    Gunmen on motorcycles killed two consulate guards.

    July 30, 2004, U.S. embassy in Taskkent, Uzbekistan
    Suicide bomber kills two.

    December 6, 2004, U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
    Militants stormed and occupied perimeter wall. Five killed, 10 wounded.

    March 2, 2006, U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan
    Suicide car bomber killed four, including a U.S. diplomate directly targeted by the assailants.

    September 12, 2006, U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria
    Gunmen attacked embassy with grenades, automatic weapons, and a car bomb (though second truck bomb failed to detonate). One killed and 13 wounded.

    January 12, 2007, U.S. embassy in Athens, Greece
    A rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the embassy building. No one was injured.

    July 9, 2008, U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey
    Armed men attacked consulate with pistols and shotguns. Three policemen killed.

    March 18, 2008, U.S. embassy in Sana'a, Yemen
    Mortar attack misses embassy, hits nearby girls' school instead.

    September 17, 2008, U.S. embassy in Sana'a, Yemen
    Militants dressed as policemen attacked the embassy with RPGs, rifles, grenades and car bombs. Six Yemeni soldiers and seven civilians were killed. Sixteen more were injured.


    May 9, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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