Libya

Officials Deny Dropping Terrorism from Benghazi Story for Political Reasons

Say it was an effort to protect sources

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The Obama administration dropped references to possible al-Qaeda connections in the attack on a U.S. mission in Libya from its initial public remarks to protect intelligence sources, not the president's re-election campaign, intelligence officials said.

The information linking individuals to al-Qaeda was derived from classified sources and methods, and because those links were -- and remain -- tenuous, it made sense to be cautious, the official said. In addition, the official said, it's important not to prejudice a criminal investigation in its early stages.

The administration's "talking points" took center stage yesterday when former CIA Director David H. Petraeus testified about the attack in separate closed-door sessions of the Senate and House intelligence committees. His appearances sparked a new round in the political dispute over the Obama administration's early description of the attack as developing from a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islamic video.