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Media can't ignore mounting evidence on Benghazi

By: The Gazette editorial
May 12, 2013 Updated: May 12, 2013 at 7:40 am
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The mainstream media have nearly ignored President Barack Obama's handling of the attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, for almost nine months.

They can't keep it up.

The Gazette ran an investigative report last Sunday by The Weekly Standard - owned by Gazette parent Clarity Media Group - under the headline 'White House altered story on Benghazi. '

The Weekly Standard's investigation unveiled a timeline by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that details substantive revisions - at least 12 - made to the CIA's talking points, six weeks before the 2012 election. Among other findings of was the fact U.S. intelligence officials concluded involvement of al-Qaida-linked terrorists even before the assaults had ended.

The investigation discovered a frantic 24-hour process to alter the story just one day before Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, took a song and dance to the Sunday talk show circuit. The distortion involved the State Department, the National Security Council, the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligences and the White House.

The Weekly Standard's investigation reviewed email exchanges laid out in a 43-page report from five committees in the House of Representatives and concluded: 'If the House report provides an accurate and complete depiction of the emails, it is clear that administration officials engaged in a wholesale rewriting of intelligence assessments about Benghazi to mislead the public. '

After multiple revisions, government transformed a terrorist attack into a so-called 'demonstration ' by generic extremists who upset by an amateur YouTube video. Removed from the original talking points, which were based on facts obtained by the CIA, were phrases such as: 'Islamic extremists with ties to al Qa'ida participated in the attack. ' The watered-down version of the story - which formed the basis for what the public would know - didn't even include the word 'attack. '

The Weekly Standard report, coupled with congressional hearings, have produced too much smoke to ignore. Government produced 12 separate drafts of talking designed to mislead the public.

As a result, some mainstream national media organizations can no longer grant President Obama his old reliable pass. Here's how NBC anchor Brian Williams began Friday's Nightly News:

'Good evening. It is now clear that a lot of things influence what the Obama administration said about the attack on Sept. 11 of this past year on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The attack raged for hours. In the end there were four dead. Quotes gathered from government emails after the event now show some people seemed to be as concerned about how to describe it as they were over what had happened. Our ambassador and three others had been murdered, and yet much of the talk between the White House the State Department and the CIA was about talking points. How to talk about the tragedy on TV. What to say, what not to say. To quote former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 'What difference at this point does it make?' Well to those involved in this investigation, trying to track down how the attack happened in the first place, and how the story was then wrongly told at first, it makes a lot of difference. It's where we begin tonight. '

Andrea Mitchell: 'These emails show that we have been shown proof that what the White House said about not being involved in the Benghazi talking points is simply not true. In fact, the State Department and the White House were far more involved in watering down the Benghazi talking points than they have been saying for months. '

Mitchell concluded her report: 'The administration insists this was not campaign politics, but a turf battle, which has, though, clearly evolved into a major black eye for everyone involved. '

The straight-up report is refreshing, though we'd characterize this as substantially more than a 'black eye. '

Let us not forget that four great Americans - men with wives, children and others who loved them - remain dead. They are: J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. ambassador to Libya; Sean Smith, U.S. Foreign Service information management officer; Glen Doherty, a former Navy SEAL and member of the advisory board of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation; and Tyrone S. Woods, former Navy SEAL who worked diplomatic security for the State Department.

Clinton and anyone else who thinks this no longer matters had better wake up. Now that it is clear we've been lied to, no stone shall go unturned.

We want to know exactly who knew what, and that goes for President Obama. We need to know what could have been done to prevent these deaths and why top government officials obsessed over spinning the story in the immediate wake of such tragedy. We are entitled to the truth.

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