State Dept. admits to editing Iran press briefing video
(ABC) -- The U.S. State Department admitted today to deleting video from an archived press briefing which included statements it made about controversial American diplomatic talks with Iran.
A few weeks ago, a reporter noticed that video was missing from the State Department’s website and asked the agency for an explanation. A spokesman at the time dismissed the incident as a "technical glitch," saying that although the video was missing the transcript was never edited and complete versions of the video still existed in other government databases available to the public.
Today, spokesman John Kirby admitted the edit was made deliberately, directed by unknown persons, and executed by a staffer in the technical department. He claimed the technical staffer could not recall who had relayed the message to remove a portion of the briefing.
Kirby said today the department ultimately could not figure out who ordered the edit -- first reported by Fox News -- and that the investigation is now over. He also said that to his surprise there were no rules in place forbidding such actions.
The portion of the 2013 daily press briefing in question included a discussion about the U.S. diplomatic negotiations with Iran. That portion included a remark from then-spokeswoman Jen Psaki, which suggested secret talks with Iran began much sooner than the Obama administration had previously stated.
Psaki had been asked about reported discrepancies in the start date of those Iran talks. “There are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress," she said in the video, which has been restored. "This is a good example of that.”
Psaki, who now works in the White House press office, denied any knowledge of the edit.
“I had no knowledge of nor would I have approved of any form of editing or cutting my briefing transcript on any subject while at the State Department,” Psaki said in an emailed statement to ABC News. “I believe deeply in providing the press as much information on important issues as possible.”