Columnist Charles Krauthammer called out the Obama administration Tuesday for its consistent refusal to acknowledge the threat of al-Qaeda in light of the 46-page report released about the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.
Among the accusations were government officials purposely altered talking points about the attack to remove references to participation of "Islamic extremists," and that, Krauthammer said during a panel discussion on "Special Report," was part of a larger pattern of denial by the administration.
"The other damning evidence here, again ... that they did edit the talking points to remove references to al-Qaeda, which fits in the pattern that we discussed even earlier," Krauthammer said. "The attempt always to try to pretend that these aren't part of a global jihad, whether it's here, it's Boston, the Underwear Attacker or the Fort Hood shooter. It's a constant in this administration, a way to say 'No, it's not. It's a one-shot deal and let's go on.' And I think that really is the problem that underlies all of this."
The reported stated, on page 6:
Administration officials crafted and continued to rely on incomplete and misleading talking points.
Specifically, after a White House Deputies Meeting on Saturday, September 15, 2012, the Administration altered the talking points to remove references to the likely participation of Islamic extremists in the attacks. The Administration also removed references to the threat of extremists linked to al-Qa’ida in Benghazi and eastern Libya,including information about at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi.
Senior State Department officials requested – and the White House approved – that the details of the threats, specifics of the previous attacks, and previous warnings be removed to insulate the Department from criticism that it ignored the threat environment in Benghazi.
It went on to say, "To protect the State Department, the Administration deliberately removed references to al-Qa’ida-linked groups and previous attacks in Benghazi in the talking points used by Ambassador [Susan] Rice, thereby perpetuating the deliberately misleading andincomplete narrative that the attacks evolved from a demonstration caused by a YouTube ."
One of President Obama's most consistent refrains on the campaign trail was he had al-Qaeda on the run. Critics charged that the failure to acknowledge the imminent threat posed to Americans in Benghazi and the subsequent deadly assault reflected his administration's willful blindness to a global enemy.
Also, the executive summary of the report stated, "Reductions of security levels prior to the attacks in Benghazi were approved at the highest levels of the State Department, up to and including Secretary Clinton. This directly contradicts her testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on January 23, 2013."
"Specific security requests pertaining to Benghazi were handled by the security professionals in the department," Clinton said at the hearing. "They didn't come to me. I didn't approve them. I didn't deny them."