WHITE HOUSE — The White House faced mounting pressure on Friday over its handling of - and explanations about - last year's terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed.
The latest developments involve the so-called talking points drawn up by the intelligence community that administration officials, including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, used to talk about the Benghazi attack.
ABC News reported that emails it obtained showed that drafts of the guidance points were extensively edited in the days leading to Rice's explanations.
They also showed that a State Department spokeswoman asked the CIA to eliminate references to an al-Qaida linked group, and to previous extremist threats because the information could be used to criticize the State Department.
The revelations place more pressure on the White House, which has accused congressional Republicans of politicizing the Benghazi issue.
White House spokesman Jay Carney disputed the suggestion that the White House was involved in anything more than stylistic changes to the talking points and that the administration tried to cover anything up.
"This would be more significant if we didn't acknowledge from the beginning that extremists were likely involved, that we didn't acknowledge from the beginning that it could very well have been Ansar al-Sharia that was involved or al-Qaida itself, or other al-Qaida affiliates. This is an effort to accuse the administration of hiding something that we did not hide," said Carney.
On Thursday, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said the Republican-led committee investigation shows that White House officials insisted on removing references to terrorism. Boehner called on the administration to release emails so they can be reviewed further.
"Last November the president said he would be happy to cooperate with the Congress in any way the Congress wants. ell, this is his chance to show his cooperation so we can get to the truth of what happened in Benghazi," said Boehner.
Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday he regretted that the Benghazi issue was being politicized.
“It’s a tragedy, but I hate to see it turned into a pure, prolonged, political process that really doesn’t tell us anything new about the facts,” said Kerry.
One Republican lawmaker has called for establishing an independent bipartisan select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack.