The State Department says a minutes-long exchange in which a reporter questioned whether officials lied about talks with Iran vanished from a 2013 press video in a cut it's now admitting was "deliberate." Spokesman John Kirby says an official in the public affairs bureau—he says he doesn't know who or why—called a technician on the same day the comments were made asking that eight minutes of footage be cut from the briefing, though a rep initially said the department believed a "glitch" was responsible, reports Fox News. The unknown caller apparently made the request on behalf of another official, Kirby says. The edit—made obvious by "a jarring, undisguised white flash," per the Washington Post—was only spotted last month by Fox reporter James Rosen, who was involved in the exchange.
In February 2013, a State rep said talks with Iran weren't occurring "on a government-to-government level." After it was revealed that talks had been underway since 2011, Rosen asked spokeswoman Jen Psaki in December, "Is it the policy of the State Department, where the preservation or the secrecy of secret negotiations is concerned, to lie in order to achieve that goal?" She replied, "I think there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress. This is a good example of that." The "embarrassing" exchange remained in the official transcript but was scrubbed from the press video. Psaki denies she was the one to make the call—which actually wasn't against the rules. However, it "is not in keeping with the State Department's commitment to transparency and public accountability," says Kirby. New rules will now be put in place. (Read more State Department stories.)