House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) on Sunday said there was “no intelligence” failure in the response to the deadly September attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Rogers, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” said that public confusion over the nature of the assault came from the administration and not the intelligence community.
Rogers said he could say with “a high degree of confidence today, there was no intelligence failure.”
But Rogers pointed the finger at the administration’s talking points, which U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice says she relied on when she initially blamed the attack on spontaneous protests sparked by an anti-Islam film.
The administration later said the attack was pre-planned by a likely Islamic militant group. Republican lawmakers have questioned the response and raised concerns that he administration sought to underplay the terrorist nature of the attack for political gain in the run-up to the election.
Rogers said the intelligence talking points given to Rice removed mention of a terrorist attack and he intended to learn why those changes were made and by whom.
NBC host David Gregory asked Rogers if he believed "anyone misled the American people for deliberately for political reasons."
"This is what I know: I know the narrative was wrong and the intelligence was right. Now, getting between there and there, I think you have to be careful about making those accusations. I think you should have to prove it," Rogers responded.
The White House has said they only made one “factual” edit to the talking points given to Rice.
“The only edit that was made to those points by the White House, and was also made by the State Department, was to change the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ since the facility in Benghazi had not -- was not formally a consulate. Other than that, we worked off of the points that were provided by the intelligence community,” said White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes on Saturday.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) defended the White House on Sunday, saying that Rice was only able to speak “publicly on unclassified speaking points.”
She conceded that while intelligence about the terrorist nature of the attack was taken out of Rice’s talking points, she did not believe that the White House was behind those changes.
“There was only one thing changed, I’ve looked into it and I believe it to be fact, that was the word ‘consulate’ was changed to ‘mission,’” she said. “That’s the only change that anyone in the White House made, and I have checked this out.”
Feinstein said she found the attacks on Rice troubling and warned that they could cause a partisan split over intelligence matters.
“What has concerned me about this is really the politicization of a public statement that was put out by the entire intelligence committee, which Susan Rice, on the 16th, who was asked to go before the people and use that statement, did,” said Feinstein. “She was within the context of that statement, and for this, she has been pilloried for two months.”
“I don't understand it. It has to stop. If it continues, it's going to set up, once again, a partisan divide in the House and the Senate, which Congressman Rogers and I have tried to overcome, and have overcome with some success, with respect to the Intelligence Committee,” Feinstein warned.
This post was updated at 1:10 p.m.