House oversight committee Chairman Darrell Issa sent a letter Thursday asking Victoria Nuland, who at the time was the State Department’s spokeswoman, who she meant when she said her “building leadership” wanted to see changes to the administration’s talking points following the Benghazi terrorist attack last year.
The initial talking points mentioned possible terrorist links but those parts were deleted by the time the document was finalized for use by public officials, which led Susan Rice, then the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., to play down the role of terrorists in the attack when she defended the administration’s response to the deadly strike.
The administration belatedly acknowledged that in fact the attacks were led by terrorists and were not prompted by a U.S.-made anti-Islam video, as they had contended at the time.
In a frenetic back-and-forth via email as the talking points were being edited, Ms. Nuland said initial changes did not “resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership.”
Mr. Issa said he wants to know who those leaders at the department were.
“It is my hope and expectation that the documents I am requesting will identify those concerns, and whose concerns they were,” he said in a letter to Ms. Nuland, whom President Obama has tapped to be assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs.
At her July confirmation hearing Ms. Nuland testified that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was not one of the leaders she had meant. She only gave one name to the Senate committee — a deputy chief of staff for policy who has since been promoted to be national security adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
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