The Republicans’ new focus of attack in the faux “Benghazi-gate” scandal is Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper, claiming that he lied about the source of changes to talking points on the Benghazi attack given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.
Yesterday, a DNI spokesperson debunked accusations made by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and other Republicans that the White House changed Rice’s Benghazi talking points, saying that it was the intelligence community that made the “substantive” changes to the talking points. Moreover, former CIA head David Petraeus and other top intelligence officials have said there was no politicization of the process and that the talking points were not altered to minimize the role of extremists but to reflect the best intelligence at the time.
McCain appeared to accept the new information but wondered why Clapper and other DNI officials did not provide this information during closed door hearings last week. And now that all their earlier attacks on Rice have fell apart, Republicans and conservative media figures are directing their attacks at Clapper, a George W. Bush appointee:
– BILL O’REILLY: Now it’s James Clapper, President Obama’s national security guy who is saying, “Oh, it’s me. I sent Rice out there and I took out all the al Qaeda stuff.” I’m not buying it. None of this adds up. … All right so there’s a lot of lying going on here.And while Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) didn’t call Clapper a liar, he told Fox News’ Stuart Varney that he now might be involved in the alleged cover up:
– CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: I’m not buying it because the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said that a week ago in classified testimony that same Clapper said that they had no idea who changed the talking points and now a week later he seems to say he did? That’s kind of strange. I mean I’ve seen amnesia in my day in my clinical days and that one is pretty quick, one week.
– TUCKER CARLSON: I hate to think that the director of National Intelligence lied, is a liar. But I’m not sure I see an alternate explanation. Apparently, he’s contradicting what he testified to just last week. Is there another explanation for this?”
– FOX NEWS’ STEVE DOOCY: They did say it is out of the [DNI] office. It’s not him per se, so we’re supposed to believe that a Clapper aide changed what Petraeus had said? That’s very, very curious.
– REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC): This is the head of our national intelligence and he changed his mind within the course of 24 hours. So how are you possibly going to have any confidence in what he says?
GINGREY: Now have you got someone who basically can trump the CIA, especially if the president says to him — I am not suggesting that he did, but he could have — look, James, we need to kind of clean this up a little bit.. We are doing really well. We’re right about time for the election and we are doing very well on national security and this could blow our cover.
The right wing has spent months trying to bring down the Obama administration in politicization the attacks in Benghazi that left four Americans dead and after all of their conspiracy theories and baseless attacks have been debunked, the rabbit hole appears to have led to Clapper and who knows where it will end.