Boehner calls for White House to release Benghazi emails
May 9th, 2013
11:55 AM ET
8 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.

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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. Dave

    What has happened here is shameful. Not only was it terrible planning to allow an ambassador to be in an insecure location in a country rife with muslim extremists on 9/11 BUT we were also warned there was a high chance of trouble. The Brits warned us amongst others.

    Not only that, the attack continues for hours with NO attempt to send in additional troops to secure the grounds. No attempt to look at it from the air and see if we could do anything. We left these Americans to die.

    Then the entire administration lies about the reason for the attack, as if the video was justification for something like this, even though they knew it was a sustained terrorist attack within hours of the attack. They lied about it for weeks, Clinton even lied about it under oath. The lies even upset the Egyptian President leading to a delay in getting into Benghazi to investigate. In addition the FBI sat on pictures of the suspected ring leaders for months!

    It really is shameful what happened here. If they had come out and admitted mistakes were made and done a full blown investigation and held people accountable it would be an entirely different situation today in my opinion. As it is, I think Obama and Clinton should be held accountable but they won't be because of the partisan divides in the country and in Congress.

    There was a time when the Democrats would have been asking questions of their President too but not anymore. Its all about party politics and it is sickening.

    May 9, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    If you study the history of al-Qaeda and how it has operated in the past, you would more or less discover that the Benghazi attacks weren't a planned attack by al-Qaeda as the GOPT are making it out to be. For example, in the past decade in which al-Qaeda has carried out attacks, it has always seized on the opportunity to abduct westerners and hold them prisoners as a negotiating tool. With that being said, the Benghazi consolate was not fortified as it was an unsecured facility that was easily accessible to the attackers if they wanted to enter the compound and abduct the occupants. But instead, they unleashed a rocket propelled grenade, setting the the building ablaze.

    Furthermore, according to intelligence reports, 45 minutes after the compound was set ablaze, witnesses or supporters of the new Libyan government were allowed to enter the building and get the occupants out. Therefore, if the attackers were really members of al-Qaeda as the GOPT has claimed, they would have entered the building and adbuct the prisoners or two, they would have taken the bodies out and paraded them on the street for the whole world to see or three, they would have prevented pro Libyan supporters from taking the victims to the hospital where they could have survived had they not suffered smoke inhilation. let's face it, the Benghazi attacks prove that the operation was NOT carried out by al-Qaeda.

    May 9, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. Guest

    They'll be glad to.

    May 9, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. DP

    If it were the other way around, the DEMs would be all over this and the main stream media would be also.

    May 9, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    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??
    Many Democrats were for the war initially before being against it

    May 9, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  6. Dave

    These hearings are 100% political, in the sense that what Obama is accused of doing (spinning the reason behind the attacks for some supposed political benefit during an election campaign) is 100% a political matter. The proper remedy for that, if indeed it's even true, was for Romney to deal with it during the campaign. The fact that Romney failed to do so effectively is too bad for him, but it doesn't turn a case of political spin during a campaign into a crime.

    May 9, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  7. FloydZepp

    I want Boehner to explain why Republicans all voted to cut funds to Embassy security leading to the deaths of four of our Embassy staff in Benghazi. Answer up Boehner.

    May 9, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    FACT: If the party's were turned around this would be a much bigger issue than it is now.

    May 9, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. Bob

    Yes Boehner subpoena the emails and when the administration refuses or withholds this information the American people will have their proof of on going conspiracy. If do comply and release these documents you will have proof of perjury and conspiracy. Please don't let it get to the Supreme Court, it's loaded. Just get the subpoena and let them hang themselves.

    May 9, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Larry in Houston

    if I were Obama – I would tell the bonehead IF your party wins in the mid-terms in 2014 – then I will release the e-mails, period. IF your party Don't win the mid-terms in 2014 – then K.M.A. Boehner !!!

    May 9, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Dave

    "If it were the other way around, the DEMs would be all over this and the main stream media would be also."

    Wrong. There were numerous attacks on consulates and embassies during the Bush administration, resulting in dozens killed, and the Democrats and news media never called for these kind of hearings.

    May 9, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. John Mann

    "Boehner wants Benghazi e-mails"

    Too darn bad. Hey Boehner, step away from the faux news box.

    Let's see what has congress been working on...hmmm...repealing Obamacare....again...trying to breathe life into the Benghazi non-issue....oh, and of course reversing the Stock Act so corruption can go on. (And yes, I do blame the prez too for signing the Stock Act repeal.)

    May 9, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "If it were the other way around, the DEMs would be all over this and the main stream media would be also."

    Yeah, I remember all 12 massive investigations the Dems conducted into the 12 embassy attacks and 60 dead people that resulted when Dubya was POTUS. Remember those lengthy and repeated hearings and investigations? Remember?

    May 9, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Many Democrats were for the war initially before being against it"

    Yeah, because they were told there were WMDs...which turned out to be a lie.

    May 9, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  15. Alan

    Perfect!...this un-relenting quest to mis-direct the public from the source/cause of the dysfunctional house being unable to compromise has come full circle. Suggestion – trade one email for one vote on: (1) A jobs bill compromise (2) A Foreclosure Forgiveness and REFUND to HOMEOWNERS of all the fines collected from US Dept of Justice lawsuits BILL (3) Immigration Bill compromise (4) Tax Code OVERHALL Fairness Bill (5) Voter Bill of Rights Gun Legislation – universal background checks part A, Limited the size of clips part B.

    See how easy that was Boehner to get just 5 emails in exchange for doing your job in the first place?

    Oh, I'm relishing how you are going to get elected next time because of the impending Internet TAX legislation or whatever it's being called so that the crooks, liars and cheats otherwise known as the US Senate could pass it...I would love to know how Mr. Novil, "Pledge" will be able to threaten the entire House at the same time?..this is when the Republicans start eating their own!

    May 9, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. jon

    Republicans voted to cut funds to Embassy Security programs. Nice.

    May 9, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  17. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Hey Mr. Issa and Mr. Boehner, why not investigate by President Obama ended the illegitimate Iraqi war? You know, the war you wanted continued? And why not investigate why an Afghan war that should have ended 5 years ago, is still ongoung with more American casualties and wasted monies?


    May 9, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. Independent


    Boehner is pretty much just admitting that yesterday's circus proved nothing and the GOP/Teatrolls haven't found any witches, back to the hunt. The request really serves one purpose anyway, which is to give the Teatrolls an excuse to assume that there's more to be uncovered and that Obama's hiding something. Boehner could demand Obama's underwear from 9.11.12 and the Teatrolls assume it must mean that Boehmer was onto something.

    You do realize that a man’s testimony IS evidence that CAN be use in a court of law!!!! Not to mention the emails that were even mentioned in this story, are also evidence. I am not sure what the administration is guilty of but there is EVIDENCE that CAN be used in a court of law that PROVES Susan Rice at least lied and probably on the direction of Clinton or Obama (as state in this story)! You can cry all you want that they have nothing but truth is they do, it might not be enough to charge Obama or Clinton with anything but we now know his administration at the very least lied!

    May 9, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    @liberal sense
    "What difference does it make..?" asked Hilary Clinton. I suggest you read her entire testimony. She's right. What difference does it make whether the Embassy attack occurred due to a terrorist attack or a riot's reaction to a movie. People died. However it was not due to Hilary or the President.

    May 9, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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