A House committee's report released Friday
that exonerates the CIA, the military and Obama administration officials for their response to the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, is "full of crap," South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN Sunday.
The latest findings come from a declassified two-year investigation by the House Intelligence Committee, which looked at all sides of the incident, including claims that the White House cooked up phony talking points for then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice.
"I'm saying the House Intelligence Committee is doing a lousy job policing their own," Graham told CNN correspondent Gloria Borger on the "State of the Union" program.
"I'm saying that anybody who has followed Benghazi at all knows that the [former] CIA deputy director [Mike Morell] did not come forward to tell Congress what role he played in changing the talking points and the only way we knew he was involved is when he told a representative at the White House, I'm going to do a hard review of this, a hard rewrite," said Graham.
Further, he said, while Morell had initially said the FBI changed the talking points on what had been said about the attacks, a lawsuit later revealed that Morell was more involved than he had admitted.
"Who told [National Security Advisor] Susan Rice that the compound consulate was substantially strong and significantly secured?" Graham said. "That wasn't in the talking points, but she said that."
Graham said there are still too many questions remaining about who was responsible for "the version most politically beneficial to the administration," to accept the report that was released Friday.
In a joint statement accompanying the release of the report, Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, Md., said its probe was extensive.
But Graham countered that the document is a "bunch of garbage...a complete bunch of garbage," with its claims, and that it's a "good question" why Rogers, the Republican committee chair would believe statements to the contrary.
Further, Graham pointed out reports of an email
from earlier this year that showed White House White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes advising Rice to focus on a YouTube video as the cause of a spontaneous protest when she hit the talk show circuit the Sunday after the attacks.
"When Susan Rice was on television after the attack, she said on three different occasions the consulate was strongly, substantially and significantly secure," said Graham Sunday. "She gave an impression to the American people that these folks were well taken care of when it was in fact a death trap."
The report also said there is no evidence there was a stand-down order when it came to security for the Benghazi facility, an other point Graham denied Sunday.
"I can tell you that three contractors working for the agency said that they were told to wait for 20 minutes," said Graham. "This report puts all the blame on the State Department and absolves the Intelligence Committee. When the Department of Defense Committee has looked at it, the Department of Defense was held blameless."
And as a result, Graham said, "everybody is pointing fingers to everybody else," but when the report that came out Friday said here was "no manipulating of the American people, that is absolute garbage."
And when the report said there is no evidence that CIA personnel misled Congress, Graham said, "I don't buy the idea that the agency did not mislead Congress because I was there when they misled me."
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