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Has Benghazi become the Obama administration’s Watergate? (+video)

New reports show that the State Department 'extensively edited' talking points about the terrorist attack on the US diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. Most Americans disapprove of the way President Obama has handled it, presenting the administration with a major political problem.

By Staff writer / May 11, 2013

White House spokesman Jay Carney speaks during a news conference at the White House Friday. Carney denied Republican accusations of a cover-up in last year's deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, which killed the US ambassador and three other Americans.

Joshua Roberts/REUTERS

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What sent Richard Nixon into political disgrace during the time of Watergate was “not the crime, but the cover-up.” Or so historians and pundits have been saying for nearly 40 years.

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Smarting ever since, Republicans now are trying to make the same point about the Obama administration’s handling of last year’s terrorist attack on the US diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, when US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

The “cover up” in this case is alleged to be political fiddling with the talking points initially used to describe the attack at a time when President Obama was running for reelection and didn’t need any suggestion that he’d failed on an important national security issue – a point his then-rival Mitt Romney immediately tried to make, which earned the GOP hopeful a wrist-slap from some Republicans.

Democrats and other left-leaning sources are clearly on the defensive, and with good reason.

“Americans are more likely to disapprove than approve of the way President Barack Obama has handled the aftermath of last September's attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and many think that the administration intentionally misled the American people about the attack,” according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.

The poll found that 42 percent of Americans said they disapprove of the way it has been handled, while 27 percent said they approve, reports Huffington Post.

Not surprisingly, Republicans disapprove 78-4 percent and Democrats approve 56-7 percent. Most troubling for the White House, Independents disapprove by a margin of more than two-to-one (47-19 percent).

As political as the terrorist attack in Benghazi has become, Republicans naturally see campaign ammunition for 2014 and perhaps 2016.

Republican strategist Kyle Downey tells the Associated Press that Benghazi has exposed a trove of Democratic vulnerabilities, which might grow as inquiries continue. For example, he said, Republicans should use the findings to challenge the competence, truthfulness and judgment of 2016 presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton – Secretary of State at the time, who has taken “full responsibility” for the episode.

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