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Bridget Johnson

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November 25, 2012 - 10:43 am

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said today he doesn’t believe UN Ambassador Susan Rice’s claim that she was just using the intelligence available at the time when saying days after the Benghazi attack that it was most likely the result of protests over an anti-Muhammad video.

“I don’t believe that the best and current intelligence assessment on 16 September was that there was a spontaneous event in Benghazi based on a video that led to a mob that became a riot. The CIA station chief on the day of the attack reported in real time, ‘We’re under attack by al-Qaeda affiliates.’ The president in Libya said on the day of the attack — excuse me, on 16 September — al-Qaeda was involved,” Graham said today on ABC’s This Week.

“We’ve got drones. Release the video. We all know what a mob looks like in the Mideast,” he added.

Rice made the first comments about her post-Benghazi media tour in a Wednesday press conference.

“When discussing the attacks against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers. Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available,” Rice said.

“I am increasingly convinced — the FBI interviewed the survivors in Ramstein, Germany, the day after. I’m increasingly convinced that the best and current intelligence assessment on 16 September went against the video. The video was a political smokescreen,” Graham said. “The actual facts were this was a coordinated, pre-planned terrorist attack. When the president said on Letterman we think the video caused this, when he said to the U.N. that we’re not going to let some hateful video turn the Mideast into a bad spot, that they’re not relying on the best and current intelligence assessment, they’re pushing a political story.”

“All the evidence is that Ambassador Rice was using the information given to her by the intelligence community,” host George Stephanopoulos told Graham.

“I don’t believe that,” the senator shot back.

“Have the intelligence community, not the deputies, the people on the ground, put in one pile all the evidence of a pre- planned, coordinated terrorist attack with al-Qaeda militia in one pot and put in the other pot the evidence that this was a spontaneous mob created by a hateful video,” Graham continued. “I’ve seen no evidence — what did the FBI get from the survivors? They said there was never a mob to begin with. There were mobs in the — riots in the Mideast, but none of them have mortars, none of them lasted for seven hours. And why for seven hours could we not help these poor people? Where was the Department of Defense?”

“And when you look at the history of Benghazi, George, August 16th, there was a report coming out of Benghazi saying there are 10 al-Qaeda militias roaming around Benghazi, we cannot withstand a coordinated attack. This is on 16 August. The British closed their consulate in Benghazi. The Red Cross left. We kept our consulate open, unreinforced. There was an al-Qaeda storm brewing for months. I blame the president above all others.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) retorted that Rice “dutifully reported” the intelligence report, “just exactly what we expect her to do.”

“They had decided not to include the al-Qaeda reference so we wouldn’t compromise our sources in Benghazi and in Libya,” Durbin claimed. “…This has just been a dance-fest to go after Ambassador Rice. That should come to an end.”

 

Bridget Johnson is a career 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 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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