WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers said Sunday they want to know who had a hand in creating the administration's now-discredited "talking points" about the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, and why a final draft omitted the CIA's early conclusion that terrorists were involved.
The answers could explain why President Barack Obama and top aides, including UN Ambassador Susan Rice, for days afterward described the attack as a protest against an anti-Islam video that turned violent and why they played down any potential link to al-Qaida, despite evidence to the contrary.
Administration officials have defended the portrayal of the attack as relying on the best information available at the time that didn't compromise classified intelligence.
Democrats say CIA and other intelligence officials signed off on the final talking points.
Republicans have alleged a Watergate-like cover-up, accusing White House aides of hiding the terrorism link in the run-up to the Nov. 6 presidential election so voters wouldn't question Obama's claim that al-Qaida's power had diminished.
"I know the narrative was wrong and the intelligence was right . . . We're going to get to the bottom of how that happened," said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she has lingering concerns about how the talking points were created. "We're going to find out who made changes in the original statement. Until, we do I really think it's unwarranted to make accusations," said Feinstein (D-Calif.).
A senior U.S. official familiar with the document, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the process publicly, said the al-Qaida reference was deleted because the information came from classified sources and the links were tenuous.