If John McCain thinks he’s improving his reputation and credibility, he’s mistaken.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he was “surprised and frustrated” to read reports that the intelligence community had altered talking points about the attack in Benghazi, Libya, after being told last week that the source of the edits was unknown.
A spokesman for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Monday said it was the intelligence community – and not other agencies or the White House – that made the edits.
In a written statement, McCain complained that “senior intelligence officials were asked” last week about minor changes to CIA talking points, “and all of them – including the Director of National Intelligence himself – told us that they did not know who made the changes.” He added that this is “another reason why many of us are so frustrated with, and suspicious of, the actions of this administration.”
The truth really isn’t complicated. Intelligence officials said they didn’t know, probably because this wasn’t a detail they bothered to explore in detail before talking to lawmakers. (Of all the things Congress was likely to care deeply about, the semantics of talking points written four days after an attack weren’t likely to be one of them.)
But after this proved to be fascinating to some lawmakers, officials looked into it, got an answer, and let folks know what the found – that the intelligence community changed “terrorists” to “extremists” for entirely legitimate reasons related to intelligence and national security.
Why is McCain “surprised and frustrated” by this? Your guess is as good as mine. It’s possible McCain kind of enjoys being “surprised and frustrated” in perpetuity, and yesterday’s statement was just a copy and paste of how the senator was feeling the day before.
That said, McCain at least resisted the urge to again condemn Susan Rice in his statement, probably because there’s nothing left for McCain to criticize her about. Indeed, the senator’s various theories have already been discredited, and though his statement yesterday insisted there are “many other questions that remain unanswered,” it’s no longer clear what else the senator wants to know.