White House denies Brennan played major role in Benghazi talking points

The White House is pushing back against Republican allegations that President Obama's pick to lead the CIA played a significant role in the controversial talking points used to describe last year's terror attack in Benghazi, Libya.

The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), said Tuesday that internal administration emails show Brennan's fingerprints on the talking points that President Obama's ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, relied on when linking the attack to a peaceful protest gone awry. The Sept. 11, 2012, attack killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

“Mr. Brennan suggested two minor edits that were stylistic,” Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, told The Hill. “He simply re-ordered two sentences and took out the words “from across many sectors of Libyan society” from one sentence. Neither edit made its way into the CIA’s final product, which was then used by the State Department and with Congress.”

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Lawmakers had vowed to block John Brennan's nomination unless they got to see the chain of emails laying out how to describe the attack to the public. They got a chance to do so in closed session Tuesday, paving the way for a committee vote Thursday on Brennan.

Republicans have accused the White House of twisting the talking points to avoid harming Obama's national security reputation ahead of the November presidential election. Several said their concerns weren't alleviated after seeing the emails and that they still have questions about the lack of security in Libya and the administration's response to the attack.

“I wouldn't use the word alleviate,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said. “I think it raises other questions with regard to process. But we may have more to say about that in the next couple days.”