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.