The response to the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 was marred by an inability to properly process and report intelligence information, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) tells NewsmaxTV.
In addition to the major issue of how agencies deliver information in a timely fashion, the White House’s claim that it was receiving conflicting intelligence and was unsure of what was happening on the ground raises significant concerns, Rubio said in an exclusive interview.
The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a closed-door hearing to examine the intelligence delivered to administration officials, how it was reviewed, and why inaccurate information was passed along to the media and American people by the president and his surrogates.
From the start, Rubio said, it was clear that this was not a spontaneous uprising about an anti-Muslim video because of how well-armed the terrorists were and the attack’s multiple waves.
The rising GOP star, who was among Mitt Romney's top choices as a vice presidential pick, also talked at length with Newsmax about how Romney is winning the Latino vote in Florida and how the Republican nominee is gaining on President Barack Obama by clarifying his positions ona number of issues.
But on the Libya controversy, Rubio is quick to point out that America needs answers about what happened.
“Let’s figure out what that conflicting intelligence was and figure out why it was conflicting,” he said. “Let’s first determine what the White House knew and why they kept saying what they said. I don’t think it made any sense...Apart from that, I’m concerned about the quality of the intelligence that was being delivered and the way the agencies were interacting with each other to deliver it.”
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In the days after the U.S. consulate was attacked and burned by terrorists, and Ambassador Chris Stevens murdered, administration officials continued to speculate that the video had caused the uprising, even as intelligence increasingly showed an organized attack had taken place.
Some of the information breakdown could be emerging proof of rivalry and conflict among agencies, and it is interfering with the delivery of intelligence, Rubio said.
Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice shared that concern in an earlier interview with Newsmax, based on her experience handling intelligence after the Sept. 11 attacks.
"When things are unfolding very, very quickly, it's not always easy to know what is really going on on the ground. And to my mind, the really important questions here are about how information was collected," she said. "Did the various agencies really coordinate and share intelligence in the way that we had hoped, with the reforms that were made after 9/11?”
Rubio, like Rice, said that the big picture of how intelligence agencies failed before and after the Benghazi attack is the most pressing question at the moment.
“We should have had these hearings weeks ago,” he said. “There’s no information they’re going to bring to the table that they didn’t have a few weeks ago when [administration officials] were still up there. So better late than never, I guess. I really wish we would’ve gotten to the bottom of this earlier.”
Several media outlets have reported that there were emails and social media posts connected to the Muslim extremist group Ansar al-Sharia, which took credit for the attack, Rubio said.
While he is hesitant to say that the administration was lying, he questions why U.N. ambassador Susan Rice continued to make statements about an uprising connected to the video. Rubio believes that many statements were not reflective of confusing or erratic reporting on what was happening.
The facts that Rubio has seen, both as a member of the Senate and in media reports, run counter to the narrative pushed by both the White House and Obama re-election campaign.
He hopes that the administration is cooperative and forthcoming with information so that the intelligence breakdown — before and after the attack — can be prevented in the future.
“Given the information they already had on their hands, they should’ve said, ‘Look, we don’t know if this was a terrorist attack or a spontaneous uprising, and that’s one of things that we’re trying to determine,’” Rubio said. “At a minimum, they should have said that. The question now is why didn’t they do that? What was their motivation? That’s going to come out of these hearings.”
Rubio also told Newsmax in the interview that:
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