McCain Demands Answers To Benghazi Questions

Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 12:22 PM

By Stephen Feller

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Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, and three colleagues on Wednesday again demanded answers from the Obama administration on the still-cloudy circumstances surrounding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

In a letter signed by McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-WI, posted to Graham's website, the senators repeated questions raised in five previous letters to President Barack Obama and other high-ranking officials in the administration.

“You and your senior administration officials have not been forthcoming in providing answers to the many questions that have emerged,” the senators write. “The American people and their representatives in Congress need to understand what you knew about the Benghazi terrorist attack and when you knew it. We also have a right to know what steps you and your administration took — or failed to take — before, during, and after the terrorist attack to protect American lives.”

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According to the letter, several senators, including these four, have requested information and not received answers about the attack in at least five separate letters sent to Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, Attorney General Eric Holder, National Intelligence Director James Clapper, CIA Director David H. Petraeus, and National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon, among others.

The lengthy list of questions requests any information available about the weeks and months before Benghazi was stormed by armed extremists on September 11, including what happened during the attack, and how and why decisions were made in the aftermath.

Among the topics covered:

• At what point did the administration and intelligence agencies recognize Benghazi as an organized act of terrorism?
• Was the president made aware of two improvised explosive device (IED) attacks at the Benghazi consulate in April and June of this year and how did the administration respond?
• What was done to strengthen security at the consulate after these attacks, regardless of knowledge of the impending Sept. 11 storming of the building?
• What military forces were available on Sept. 11 to respond to the attack and what drove decisions to not send them into Libya?

In the last week, McCain has compared the apparent lack of transparency, at least for Congress to investigate what happened, to the Watergate cover-up by President Richard Nixon. “It is still the worst cover-up or incompetence I have ever observed in my life. Somebody the other day said to me, ‘Well, this is as bad as Watergate.’ Nobody died in Watergate,” McCain said on CBS on Oct. 28.

The four senators who signed the Oct. 31 letter, as well as several others, have increasingly pushed the administration for what they see as dragging its feet on providing Congress with the information, and have increased statements both in letters and in interviews with the press.

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“Your failure to answer these important questions will only add to the growing perception among many of our constituents that your administration has undertaken a concerted effort to misrepresent the facts and stonewall Congress and the American people,” senators wrote in the letter mailed Wednesday. “We look forward to a prompt and thorough response to these questions. The American people deserve a full accounting of what happened in Benghazi where four brave Americans were murdered.”

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