Former CIA official: No politics in Benghazi memo

WASHINGTON (AP) - A former CIA official has been defending the changes he made to the talking points that were put together in the aftermath of the deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya in 2012.

During more than three hours of questioning today from a House panel, former deputy CIA director Mike Morell said he deleted references to terrorism warnings from those talking points so that the spy agency wouldn't be able to gloat at the expense of the State Department.

Four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, were killed in two separate attacks over several hours.

Morell insisted that politics had no bearing on the revisions to the talking points, and that he was under no pressure to protect either President Barack Obama or then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The talking points were relied on by Susan Rice, who was then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in a series of Sunday talk show appearances. But Morell says he had no idea that Rice was going to use them.

Morell says he knew from classified sources that some of the individuals involved in the attack were from al-Qaida. He says that's information that couldn't be included unless it was declassified.

Lawmakers continued to spar over the talking points. Republican committee chairman Mike Rogers said the White House had used them for its "own misguided political agenda." Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger said the focus should be on catching those who carried out the attacks, and not on the talking points.


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