Senator to probe role of Susan Rice 'talking points' on Libya

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The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday that she planned to investigate why the CIA's quick determination of a terrorist role in the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, was not reflected in the "talking points" used days later on television by Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

But the chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also said she felt certain that the White House was not behind any change in the language used. "With the allegation that the White House changed those talking points, that is false," she said on the NBC program "Meet the Press."

The White House, she said, only changed a reference to the "consulate" in Benghazi to the more accurate "mission."

She said a transcript of testimony given by former CIA director David Petraeus a day after the attack showed that "Petraeus very clearly said that it was a terrorist attack."

But asked whether the Obama administration had deliberately misled the public by characterizing the attack as resulting from a spontaneous protest -- to avoid invoking a terrorist threat at a key point in the presidential campaign -- she was adamant, saying, "No, no."

The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were killed in the attack.

Rep. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the talking points were amended during a review by an interdepartmental "deputies committee," which he described as being "populated by appointees from the administration."

"We do know that the intelligence community, as they presented it, was accurate, and it did include terrorism," Mr. Rogers of Michigan said on "Meet the Press."

Ms. Feinstein said Ms. Rice, in five television appearances Sept. 16, had carefully followed the talking points.

Mr. Obama, in his news conference on Thursday, angrily challenged Ms. Rice's Republican critics to bring their complaints directly to him.

But one of those critics, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., appeared to retreat slightly Sunday. Asked on NBC whether he would actively block Ms. Rice should the president nominate her to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, he would not go that far.

Mr. Graham said he was "very disappointed" in Ms. Rice, but that as a general rule, "I'm very deferential to the president's picks."

Another of the Republican critics, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, suggested on CBS's "Face the Nation" that some sort of mea culpa from Ms. Rice might help ease her potential nomination to a Cabinet post. Still, he said, "Under the present circumstances, until we find out all the information as to what happened, I don't think you could want to support any nominee right now."

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