Senators investigating the attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya and the administration’s version of events in the aftermath were livid when the White House initially sent them documents so heavily redacted they were “worthless,” a source told Fox News.
The so-called Benghazi talking points were requested by the Senate Intelligence Committee, but were so heavily redacted lawmakers sent them back and demanded another set, a source told Fox News. Lawmakers sought the papers in order to find out why the administration repeatedly claimed the attack, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, a State Department employee and two former Navy SEALs, was sparked by a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam video.
But the first batch of documents contained hundreds of pages that were of no use, the source said.
“It was so redacted that there was no information whatsoever,” said the source, who spoke to Fox on the condition they not be identified. “There were some documents that were 100 pages with every word on the page redacted. They were worthless.”
A second set of documents were delivered to Capitol Hill Thursday night which had only minimal redactions.
The source speculated that the administration had two sets of documents ready to go: one that was redacted and another that didn’t. Senators have asked to see the documents as a part of their inquiry into the attack on Benghazi. Senators also wanted the documents before they were willing to vote on John Brennan to be Director of Central Intelligence.
A committee vote on Brennan’s nomination is set for Tuesday.
The documents reveal various email traffic about the “talking points” which were passed through a litany of Washington power centers: The White House, the FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department. The source questions why it took the Obama administration months to deliver the information when all of these agencies had dealt with the email traffic.
Sources said the emails revealed heavy editing by then-CIA Director David Petraeus. The talking points evolved as they were passed around various intelligence and security hubs, and scrubbed of language referring to “al Qa’ida.” They also seemed to indicate an effort to paint the Sept. 11 attack as a demonstration and not a planned attack, the source said.
“The word ‘attacks’ was changed to ‘demonstration,’” the source said.
In the wake of the attack, the White House sent UN Ambassador Susan Rice on several Sunday news shows to explain the incident as a spontaneous event spurred by a 13-minute trailer for the low-budget film “The Innocence of Muslims” which had been posted online.