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Lindsey Graham Labors to Keep Benghazi Alive, Get Answers

And wins U.S. access to a suspect being held in Tunisia. Does he really deserve conservatives' scorn?

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

November 2, 2012 - 3:09 pm
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“I have visited your country on several occasions and through my role as the Ranking Member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State and Foreign Operations, we have included multiple forms of assistance during the crucial new beginning of Tunisia,” Graham (R-S.C.) told Tunisia’s charge d’ affaires. “However, if these reports are true, our partnership could be in serious jeopardy.”

Graham encouraged the envoy to get the wheels of cooperation rolling between the Tunisian and Libyan governments, and U.S. intelligence services and law enforcement.

Two days later, the Tunisian government today granted American investigators in-person access to the suspect.

“It is unfortunate it has taken this long to get an in-person interview as time is of the essence in cases like this. We hope our interview of Ali Ani al Harzi will bear fruit and we can bring to justice those responsible for killing Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans,” said Graham and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who met with the FBI last week to press the case.

Basically, Graham stepped in to do the administration’s job to force a deal on an interrogation.

Graham also has more of a national ear than some lawmakers as a frequent guest on the Sunday network news shows and cable news.

Thus, he’s gotten the Benghazi story out on networks not exactly covering the story.

“There was no video inspiring the June attack. Benghazi was in the hands of al-Qaeda between April and September in larger measure,” Graham said late last month on MSNBC. “The reports coming out of Benghazi was that the security footprints deteriorating, the British left, the Red Cross left. They didn’t leave because of a video. They left because of insurgents and militia taking over Benghazi.”

He’s also been a frequent guest on Fox News to keep viewers apprised of the developments in the Benghazi probe.

“President Obama was AWOL when it comes to protecting our folks in Libya. This is a massive failure of national security by the Obama administration. It makes me sad. It makes me angry,” he said yesterday.

“Libya is exhibit A in the fact that al-Qaeda is regrouping, counter-attacking and the wars are not receding. And what happened in Libya was a failure of leadership by the president. He should have closed this consulate after the attacks in June or heavily reinforced it. It became a death trap, and the people were denied security assistance because we wanted to normalize relationship with a nonexistent government.”

And like the conservative grass-roots, the senator has also been using Twitter on a daily basis to keep the story alive.

“It’s wrong for President Obama to repeatedly refuse to answer even the most basic questions about the deaths of Americans killed in Benghazi,” Graham tweeted today. “Mr. President, you need to address the American people and account for your leadership in the attack on our Consulate in #Benghazi, Libya.”

Graham, along with longtime friends and allies Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), has been a stalwart watchdog against creeping isolationism in the GOP that he believes will make the country less safe and deny Reaganesqe aid and comfort to human beings fighting for democracy and freedom around the globe. And he demands attention be paid to a War on Terror that’s far from over.

The Benghazi scandal has made clearly evident who will round out that trio once Lieberman retires at the end of this term: Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).

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Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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