From Kevin Drum:

ABC News now has a complete set of drafts of the infamous “talking points” that were prepared a few days following the Benghazi attacks. The drafts don’t tell us much that we didn’t already know, but here’s a nickel summary:

  • From the very start, the talking points say that the attacks were “spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” and then “evolved” into the assaults on the two compounds in Benghazi.
  • The first draft included references to “Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qa’ida.” This was eventually sanded down to “extremists” after the State Department pointed out that they had been deliberately withholding this information because “we don’t want to prejudice the investigation.” This is the same thing that David Petraeus told Congress last November.
  • The third draft included an ass-covering paragraph from the CIA making sure everyone knew they had produced “numerous pieces” on possible threats to Benghazi in the previous few months, with the obvious implication that the State Department had ignored them. Unsurprisingly, the State Department’s spokesman, Victoria Nuland, objected to this gratuitous display of bureaucratic point scoring. It was removed in the final draft.

Editor’s Note: I’m sorry, I have looked and looked and there isn’t anything here. Benghazi is simply conservatives jumping up and down and holding their breath. Look, the fact that Americans died in Benghazi is tragic. Sometimes, when Americans die, it’s not the President’s fault. It is not the Secretary of State’s fault. We simply had Americans in a dangerous part of the world.

Update: Rachel Maddow reviewed the five talking points that the Right has been going on about concerning Benghazi. The five talking points are, in no particular order that it wasn’t a spontaneous attack, but was planned. Who changed the talking points? Why didn’t Obama and the administration call it an act of terror? Why didn’t the military respond? Why were we not prepared for the attack? Personally, I think that some of these talking points are serious and deserve discussion and others, not so much. I don’t much care whether it was a spontaneous attack or it was planned for months in advance. I think this talking point is stupid and does not really deserve intelligent consideration. As far as the next point, concerning who changed the talking points, I really don’t think this much matters either. As it turns out, Congress has had the chain of email corrections for months. ABC just published everything a couple of days ago. Every revision, including a timeline. So, this should be put to rest. Why didn’t the military respond? Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified in front of Congress and he basically said there wasn’t enough time for an active, appropriate military response.

This leaves us with the final talking point. Why weren’t we better prepared? I asked this exact same question back in September. A commission headed by Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and Admiral Michael Mullen actually looked into this. The board concluded that there was no protest prior to the attacks. They also found that “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in special mission security posture that was an adequate for Benghazi.” The report goes on to say, “overall, the number of Bureau of Diplomatic Security security staff in Benghazi on the day of the attack in the months and weeks leading up to it was an adequate, despite repeated requests from the Special Mission Benghazi and embassy Tripoli for additional staffing.” Interestingly, the report does comment on the military response by saying, “the interagency response was timely and appropriate, but there simply was not enough time for armed US military assets to have made a difference.” You can read the whole report here.

So, what should we conclude about Benghazi? It appears that there was poor coordination between Washington and Tripoli. It appears that Ambassador Stevens was given a lot of leeway because of his status in the State Department. It also appears the State Department is underfunded and understaffed. As we look back, it would seem that the State Department would’ve picked up on the increased terrorist activities in Benghazi. Somewhere along the line, whether it was Ambassador Stevens or someone else, someone should have noted with all the changes that were going on in Libya that an outpost like Benghazi would’ve been an extremely soft target. Was there a cover-up? Were the American people deceived? I don’t think so. All the information that I presented here is readily available. The official line of the White House was that Benghazi was attacked by armed terrorists and that was true.