State Department: ‘We have hit a dead end’ on who ordered video edit

Getty Images

The State Department on Thursday said it has hit a “dead end” in determining who ordered the deletion of part of a December 2013 press briefing video that addressed the Iran nuclear deal.

“We believe we’ve carried out the necessary investigation. We have hit a dead end in terms of finding out more information,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

{mosads}The answer was unacceptable to CNN news anchor Jake Tapper, who declared Thursday, “Just as the public has a right to know the truth, we have a right to know who lied to us. And why.”

During the deleted portion, then-State Department press secretary Jen Psaki was asked by Fox News reporter James Rosen whether it was OK to lie to keep secret negotiations with Iran.

“I think there are times when diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress,” she responded.

The State Department first called the deletion “a glitch” before admitting it was an deliberate order made by someone it says is not known at this point.

Toner told reporters that the deletion occurred after a video technician got a call from someone within State’s public affairs department, acting on behest of someone else within the bureau. 

Toner also made contradictory statements over whether the identity of the person who relayed the request was known. 

“Yes, it was — so the request was — and we sort of know, obviously, who made that request, but that that was passing on a request from somewhere else within the Public Affairs Bureau,” Toner said. “The individual in question here does not remember who told him or her to carry out this order. It was a phone call that took place three years ago. We’re not going to question their memory, but at this point, we believe that we’ve done the forensics.”

Toner also said the technician remembers the gender of the person who called, but that he was “not allowed to share that.” 

“We do know that and I’m not allowed to share that,” Toner said.

But later in the briefing, Toner indicated the department has “not been able to clarify” who placed the call relaying the order to the video technician.

It’s unclear whether he meant he could not “clarify” the information for reporters or that he did not know. 

And as far as who decided and directed others to make the edit happen, Toner said, “We don’t have that individual, or that individual’s name.”  

Toner said the department has looked through a staff roster and taken “commonsense steps” to get to the bottom of the decision. He said he could not confirm whether phone records were examined, but he would check.  

He also said there were no plans to interview the roughly 300 employees in the Public Affairs Bureau to determine who made the original request.

“If somebody wants to come forward with that, then we would welcome that, obviously,” he said. “If we get new information as to where this request came from, we will investigate further.”

While he said the act was “inappropriate,” he said an investigation by the State Department’s legal adviser’s office showed no rules were broken, primarily since there were none in place in regards to editing video.  

He said, however, that there is a policy going forward not to alter briefing videos. 

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video