Sen. Lindsey Graham sought Wednesday to increase the pressure on President Barack Obama by suggesting he should have known the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was "a death trap" before the Sept. 11 attack that left four Americans dead.
Graham, who wrote a letter to Obama on Tuesday demanding information about two previous attacks on the consulate, told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren the president should have known "that Benghazi was deteriorating over time" and was "a death trap for Americans" before U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed.
"We were really the last flag flying in Benghazi. It was almost inevitable the consulate would be attacked. Everybody else had left," the South Carolina Republican said, referring to the Red Cross pulling out and the British consulate closing because it had been attacked once before.
Graham said he could understand the president not being informed about requests for additional security personnel in Libya made through the State Department prior to the attack that killed Stevens. But he said he holds the president accountable when it comes to having an overall grasp of what the real security situation was in Benghazi leading up to that deadly assault.
"I hold the president accountable for that. And I want to know, Mr. President, were you doing your job?" Graham asked. "Were you following the deteriorating situation in Benghazi? Did you know that the [U.S.] Libyan consulate in Benghazi, the last flag standing, was a death trap for Americans? If you didn't, why?"
Graham also addressed the administration's changing accounts of the attack, including the initial claim that it grew out of a demonstration in protest of an American-made, anti-Muslim YouTube video.
"The video had nothing to do with this because there was never a mob. It's pretty hard to have a riot by a mob that never existed," Graham said, adding: "They were trying to spin a version that would make them less culpable."
But Graham said the real story has come out, that the attack was carried out by a terrorist group with possible ties to al-Qaida.
"It's a story about al-Qaida coming back, Libya going south, and it destroys the [Obama campaign] narrative that by killing [Osama] bin Laden, al-Qaida's been dismantled," Graham said. "And it also destroys the narrative you can lead from behind in Libya and everything's fine. I hold the president personally accountable for knowing the security situation in the world."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made a similar point in an appearance Wednesday on Fox News's Sean Hannity show.
Despite Obama's claim of responsibility for the security failure in Benghazi, which came during his debate Tuesday night with Mitt Romney, Gingrich said the president still has an "inability . . . to come to grips with the fact that we are at war with an extremist movement on a worldwide basis that wants to kill us."
Gingrich said the larger problem is, "You have a president of the United States, who as commander in chief, will not be honest with himself about the problem of radical Islam, will not be honest with the world about it."
Gingrich also commented on a Gallup poll taken before the debate and released this morning that shows Romney with a 51 percent to 45 percent lead nationwide over the president. He said he believes that margin will widen in Romney's favor in the final days leading up to the Nov. 6 election.
"This is the beginning of the collapse of Obama," Gingrich said."I think facts are going to weigh him down and he's going to lose this election by a surprising margin."
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