By Associated Press|
"We gave the direction yesterday that this whole process is going to be checked out," said Feinstein. "We're going to find out who made changes in the original statement. Until, we do I really think it's unwarranted to make accusations."
Feinstein confirmed that intelligence officials told her in closed briefings that they were reluctant to name any particular terrorist group without being certain. But, she added, it was clear very soon after the attack that the violence didn't stem from a political demonstration.
Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, told reporters travelling with the president to Asia that any substantive edits to the talking points would have come from intelligence agencies themselves. The only change the White House made, he said, was to correct a reference to the facility in Benghazi as a "diplomatic facility," instead of a "consulate."
"Other than that we were guided by the points that were provided by the intelligence community. So I can't speak to any other edits that may have been made," he said.
But lawmakers said that at Capitol Hill briefings last week officials representing the FBI, State Department and CIA did not address what role political appointees such as Rice might have played in the generation of the talking points. Republicans said they want Rice to testify about what she knew and when she knew it.
"What I do know is that every member in the intelligence community says that references to al-Qaida were removed by somebody, they don't know who," said Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Petraeus had signed off on the final talking points and that going after Rice was a useless witch hunt.
But Republican Rep. Peter King said senior intelligence officials were strong-armed into doing so.
"Well, they had no choice," said King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. "They had no choice at that stage."
King did not elaborate on how he would know whether Petraeus was compelled to sign off on the talking points, and the lawmaker did not give any more details to bolster his allegation.