GOP Senators Send Letter to Obama Demanding Benghazi Explanation

Image: GOP Senators Send Letter to Obama Demanding Benghazi Explanation From left: Sens. John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham

Thursday, 06 Feb 2014 10:01 PM

By Greg Richter

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Three Republican senators have sent a letter to President Barack Obama demanding answers to questions his interview with Bill O'Reilly raised about the Benghazi attack.

In the letter, Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and John McCain of Arizona tell Obama that his interview "raises more questions than it answers," and lay out some of the issues they want clarified.

The letter notes that Obama told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly in the interview broadcast in two parts on Sunday and Monday that what  "became clear was that the security was lax, that not all the precautions that needed to be taken were taken."

The bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report concluded that the intelligence community provided "ample strategic warning" that Americans in Benghazi were at risk, the lawmakers wrote, yet Obama's State Department ignored those warnings and failed to either increase security sufficiently or close the diplomatic facility.

The lawmakers also asked why then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on all five Sunday talk shows and said the United States had a strong security presence that was both "substantial" and "significant."

The letter goes on to ask Obama why he told O'Reilly that the initial blame was placed on an anti-Muslim video when his Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, has stated "there was no question in my mind it was a terrorist attack."

The lawmakers also point out that Obama promised to bring the perpetrators to justice in a Rose Garden speech the day after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that left four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, dead.

"Yet, in almost 17 months, none of the terrorists have been brought to justice," the letter said. "We appreciate that the situation in Libya presents some unique challenges. But if our nation can find Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, we are confident that we can find terror suspects giving interviews in Libya."

CNN and other news organizations have interviewed the top suspect in the attack, Ahmed Abu Khattala, the head of Ansar al-Sharia in Libya.

Appearing on Fox News Channel's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" Thursday, McCain called Benghazi a "massive cover-up."

O'Reilly had asked Obama if politics played any role in initially denying the attack was pre-planned terrorism. Obama was in the middle of a tough re-election campaign and had bragged that Osama bin Laden was dead and al-Qaida was on the run.

Obama denied any such intentions. But McCain was skeptical.

"If this attack on our consulate was then carried out in a planned terrorist attack, then that blows a hole a mile wide in the theme of the campaign" that the terrorists were losing, McCain told Van Susteren.

McCain acknowledged that Obama will not answer the letter, but promised, "we will keep the pressure on until we know for the benefit of those four families exactly what happened."

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