Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) tore into Fox News’ Chris Wallace and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) for obsessing over the talking points U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used when talking to the media in the days following the attack in Benghazi, Libya rather than focusing on identifying the perpetrators of the killings. “I think the desire of the Republicans to create a scandal here has really undermined any ability to have a credible look at what actually happened,” Smith said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday alongside Rogers.
While acknowledging that the administration’s initial assessment of Bengazi did not reflect what officials later learned about the incident, Smith criticized Fox for suggesting that that Rice’s remarks on five Sunday news shows presented a definitive picture of the events of Sep. 11, 2012.
“[The administration] didn’t reach conclusions the way you just presented that was that by the Sunday afterwards that the administration said here is what happened, here is our conclusion,” Smith explained. “But the president never said, no terrorism, no Al Qaeda. There was a dispute about how soon to lead to specific conclusions that now is being made into Watergate and Iran-Contra.” Watch it:
Indeed, during multiple appearances on the Sunday shows Rice said that the attacks were in part a response to the anti-Islam video that had spurred protests across the region, but did not offer a definitive answer as to what exactly took place in Benghazi and predicated the administration’s assessment as “based on the information that we have at present.” The CIA and State Department did initially believe that the attack was spontaneously inspired by the protests in Cairo, Egypt.
Wallace responded to Smith pointing out that intelligence officials changed Rice’s talking points at least 12 times, taking out references to prior attacks and specific terrorist groups. “We’re talking about talking points,” Smith reminded the host. “There was no question this was a it terrorist attack. They didn’t deny it. I would much rather get into investigation of the groups that threatened the U.S., figure out how they are, and how to stop them instead of debating how one memo was put together in the immediate days after the attack.”